The Great American Economy

Episode #5  |  October 14, 2020
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The Great American Economy
Episode #5
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In This Episode:

Strong economic data, coupled with a new Gallup poll showing the majority of Americans consider themselves better off than they did four years ago, shows that the Trump economic team is doing something very right. So, what happens if there’s a change in leadership and a shift in economic policy? Famed economist Art Laffer walks us through that scenario. Plus, Raj Bhakta, an American entrepreneur, explains his newest venture—redefining a college education. For more from Trish Regan follow her on twitter @trish_regan & visit AmericanConsequences.com.

Guests:

Art Laffer

Art Laffer

Economist and author

Art Laffer is an American economist and author who first gained prominence during the Reagan administration as a member of Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board (1981-89). Laffer is best known for the Laffer curve, an illustration of the concept that there exists some tax rate between 0% and 100% that will result in maximum tax revenue for the government. In certain circumstances, this would allow governments to cut taxes, and simultaneously increase revenue and economic growth.

Laffer was an economic advisor to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. On June 19, 2019, President Donald Trump awarded Laffer with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions in the field of economics.

Raj Bhakta

Raj Bhakta

Entrepreneur and political candidate

Raj Bhakta is an American entrepreneur, political candidate, and former reality show contestant. In 2004, Bhakta was a contestant on the second season of the reality show The Apprentice. He is also the founder of WhistlePig whiskey, one of the most successful premium whiskey companies in the United States. In 2006, he campaigned for a seat in the United States House of Representatives from Pennsylvania's 13th district as a Republican.

Transcript:

Announcer:                 This is Trish Regan’s American Consequences, a view of things you won’t get anywhere else. Trish talks about the Fed, the White House, and the world like no one. The biggest guests and best analysis starts right now. Here’s Trish Regan.

 

Trish Regan:               A lot of good things in the economy right now. We’re looking at GDP growth that could be as high as 33%. We’re looking at unemployment of 7.9%. We are looking at Americans who feel better now about the economy than they did four years ago. That’s according to a recent Gallup poll, which shows more than half of Americans feel better, so what better indicator is there than that? But will it continue? Will it continue if there’s a shift in economic policy? I’m so excited right now to be joined here on American Consequences With Trish Regan by my most favorite economist ever, the incredible Art Laffer. He is really – he’s the guy that you read about in the economics textbooks, right, because the Art Laffer curve, the Laffer curve which shows the distinct correlation between taxes and revenue that a government can bring in. This is one brilliant man, and I’m so excited to have him on the show here today. Art, welcome.

 

Art Laffer:                  Thank you very much, Trish. It’s really lovely to be on the show with you. I’ve missed you.

 

Trish Regan:               [Laughs] Oh, I’ve missed you. I’ve missed you, and I want to also congratulate you. I know that I was there the day that it happened, and I loved the ceremony and I loved watching it. You also were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for all of your tremendous contributions in the field of economics, so that was really a wonderful thing to see, and I don’t think there’s anyone more deserving.

 

Art Laffer:                  Well, thank you very much. It was quite a day for me, too. I don’t think I remember a moment of it. I was smiling and so happy, but it was just fun.

 

Trish Regan:               Well, you really tapped into something. You were able to chart it out with that now famous Laffer curve that you wrote on a napkin. But walk us through sort of what your overall thesis is and how this is administration has been able to implement that in ways that have been meaningful for our economy, Art.

 

Art Laffer:                  Yeah, well, economics, Trish, is all about incentives, and people respond to incentives. I mean, for example, if you make an activity less attractive, people will do less of it. If you make it more attractive, people will do more of it. And taxes and subsidies make activities more and less attractive. It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that if you tax people who work and you pay people who don’t work, you’re going to get more people not working. That’s just very simply the supply side economics motto is “People respond to incentives,” and what this administration has done is it cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. At 35%, we were the highest corporate tax rate in the OECD. By bringing it down to 21%, we’re in the middle of the pack, a little bit above the middle, but we’re still in the middle of the pack – enormous improvement. We’ve done all sorts of things in the Tax Act.

 

One of the things that I think the president has done that’s just astoundingly wonderful is transparency in health care. I mean, no one knows what their health care costs and they don’t know the quality of the health care they're getting. They're buying a product. They don’t know what it costs. They don’t know what it does, and they have to pay for it later after other people decide what it is. It’s a tragedy, and the president has required that all health care providers provide the cost, transactions costs of the products, and also quality information about those products. And what more can you ever do for 17%, 18% of the U.S. economy than that? There are lots of others he’s done with regard to energy and all this, but this administration has really employed supply side economics to make things better.

 

Trish Regan:               Well, let’s talk about that because I think they have done so really brilliantly and, as a result of that, we are looking now at a V-shaped recovery, which a lot of people didn’t think was possible. But sometimes, I guess, if you can just get out of the way and let people do what they know how to do, that seems to be the best course of action. But now we’re looking at Joe Biden’s policies, and he’s talking about a 28% tax at the corporate level and on small business. He’s talking about nearly 40% in capital gains taxes. Walk me through those policies, how they compare and contrast with Donald Trump’s and what your concern is for the overall economy if those were to come to fruition.

 

Art Laffer:                  Joe Biden is the least bad of the Democrats. I was very, very pleased to see that he was the Democratic Party’s nominee because his proposals are much more moderate than Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or some of these other people, which were just crazy. But nonetheless, he’s going to raise tax rates on companies. He’s going to raise tax rates on capital gains. He’s going to raise tax rates across the board on incomes. He’s going to raise it back up to 43%, I think, and all of these things which he’s promised... they will have a very deleterious effect on the economy.

 

                                    Now, we’re bouncing back from the bottom of the coronavirus depression really, bouncing back very, very quickly. This will impede that bounce-back, and it will lead to lower growth over the long term, Trish. It really will, and it’s very sad because this country doesn’t need slower growth. This country needs to accelerate its growth and bring back equality through employment, not through income redistribution.

 

Trish Regan:               Yeah, no, listen, I couldn’t agree with you more. You’re preaching to the choir on this, but they really think that somehow you’re going to solve this inequality issue by redistributing wealth, right? And I just think that there’s got to be a smarter way to do this, Art. I mean if you think about the policies themselves, I mean, these poor kids in these inner cities, right, that can’t go to school right now? These are the very kids that they say that they so badly want to help, and there’s so many more innovative ways to look at it whether it be school vouchers, for example. If there’s a private school around the corner that’s open, maybe if you had a voucher, you could go there. But you just don’t have any optionality in Chicago, inner city of Chicago, D.C., L.A., New York right now. And so I’m troubled by it because... look, the handouts, they're temporary solutions, right, sir? You get a handout for a little bit, but it’s not fixing the crux of the problem or the heart of the issue.

 

Art Laffer:                  You’re exactly correct. I mean, handouts do not engender pride. When you’re given a handout, you know you’re given a handout for something you don’t deserve and you feel bad about it. Of course, it’s always better to create jobs, output, and employment, where people feel proud of what they're doing. Now, I wrote something back in the mid-1970s, Trish, which is called Enterprise Zones. As you may know, I was on the faculty at the University of Chicago and I lived on the South Side there at 68th and Euclid and South Shore. I wrote Enterprise Zones with specific purpose in hand of how can you help the inner cities? And if you do it by handouts, once the people make a little bit of income, they lose their handouts. They lose their welfare. They lose their transfer payments, and it’s a welfare trap. It’s a poverty trap, and it’s just devastating.

 

                                    A single woman today in Philadelphia raising a child... if she earns $29,000, you can calculate what her total after-tax income will be. You can calculate what all of the benefits that she would get, welfare benefits from all the 13 or 15 programs she eligible for, and if you can get the total spending power she would have. If she then had the gumption and real drive and "go get ’em" and earned income went from $29,000 to $58,000 income, doubled her pay because of her hard work, if you went and recalculated all the after-tax income she’d have and all the new benefits, which would be much, much lower because of these tests, the income tests and welfare tests, she would actually be worse off earning $58,000 than she would $29,000. That would constitute a marginal tax rate of over 100%, Trish. And you wonder this is a poverty trap. Aid for dependent children – if a father in the inner city leaves his family, they get more money, which means that so many of these families are raised without a father around, which is just devastating. Well, you know what I’m talking about, and that’s why I wrote Enterprise Zones long ago.

 

Trish Regan:               It really crystallizes it, and this is something that the president has really started to make hay with, too, with the enterprise zones and we’ve seen then in areas like Detroit, right?

 

Art Laffer:                  True, and I wrote that long ago. You know, it’s you want to balance up, not down. The dream in America is not to make the rich poorer. The dream is to make the poor richer, to provide them with opportunities so they can do it on their own and be proud and have the incomes they need and reduce income inequality by making the poor richer rather than by the rich poorer, and it’s just so bad that they use the negative strategies to do this. It’s just very sad –

 

Trish Regan:               Class warfare, or just negative strategies meaning...

 

Art Laffer:                  Paying people not to work. I mean that’s exactly what they're doing. They're paying people not to work. They're paying this mother in Philadelphia with one child. They're paying her not to get a better-paying job because she loses money if she get a better-paying job and, by the way, this has been true for a long time. When I lived in L.A. when I was a professor at USC, they’d have the same income trap. If the person goes from $100 a month income to $1,000 a month, a family of four – now this is a number of years ago – they're literally worse off earning $1,000 a month than they are earning nothing a month. It’s very sad. It’s been here a long time, and it’s created a whole culture in the inner cities of lack of incentives, lack of success. They’ve held people down in the poorest of our society. It’s very sad.

 

                                    When Reagan came in – not your Regan but my Reagan, Ronnie Reagan – there were two places in the tax codes where the rates were the highest. The very rich... we had it going up to 70% was the tax rate on the rich, but also on the very poorest where tax rates were upwards of 90%, 95%, 100% because of the withdrawal of welfare if you made more money. So we tried to cut both of those:  one with enterprise zones and the other with tax cuts, and it really worked with Reagan.

 

Trish Regan:               Let me ask you then your thoughts on the coronavirus stimulus package because it’s getting the back-and-forth. It’s getting stuck in Washington, typical Washington-ness, and they can’t seem to come to some kind of agreement. But I’m looking at the numbers, Art, and I’m like 33% growth? That’s remarkable. 7.9% unemployment. I mean I know people are hurting. I just wish in some ways maybe this could be a little bit more targeted. My fear is if you interfere too much in this when things are just started to get good, do you run the risk of derailing any of it?

 

Art Laffer:                  Let me just say I agree with your strong statement that you didn’t make. We do not need another stimulus package, period. And we do not need $3.6 trillion worth of additional debt, which we had in the CARES Act. That’s just the wrong thing to do. Now, medical spending and subsidizing the development of vaccines and antibodies and all this remedial stuff – that’s wonderful! And there’s clearly a need for some PPE and some sort of protection for the poor, the minority, the disenfranchised. But frankly, $3.6 trillion is more than – do you know how many zeros are in $1 trillion? Twelve!

 

Trish Regan:               [Laughs]

 

Art Laffer:                  I mean you got GDP of $20 trillion. What in the heck are these people thinking? They, yeah, they're just out having a spree on our tax credit card, as Ronald Reagan used to say, and they take that spending card, the taxpayer spending card, with them anywhere they go. We don’t need any of this stuff. It would’ve been better had we... you know, we could’ve done... the CARES Act should’ve been $600 billion. That’s it, and we would’ve had plenty of money to bring this economy back even faster.

 

Trish Regan:               So what is the concern? If we keep up this coronavirus stimulus with the checks in the mail and that kind of thing, does it disincentivize people from actually going back to work? We hear cases – right, Art – of the dishwasher who said, “Wait a second, I’m making much more from my federal check than I ever made as a dishwasher,” So then suddenly the restaurants that were trying to reopen couldn’t hire the dishwasher back.

 

Art Laffer:                  It surely has that effect. It also has an effect of people cheating and becoming scofflaws and becoming cheats on their taxes. If I don’t tell anyone about this, then I can do it and I’ll still get my unemployment benefits and the $600. It incentivizes people not working. It incentivizes people lying and cheating on their tax codes. It incentivizes all sorts of things. What amazes me is that in spite of all of this stuff, people are going back to work as soon as they can because they have pride in their own selves in wanting to work.

 

                                    The only thing that’s not happing yet is there are a number of states that still have a lockdown. And you can’t go to work if it’s illegal to get a job and in a number of states that’s happening. If we remove those lockdowns, Trish, this economy would grow a lot faster than 32% or 33% or 35%, which the Georgia Fed says.

 

Trish Regan:               Yeah, it’s pretty incredible because if everybody can go back to work and government’s not obstructing that in any way, then wow, we really I think would come back in a massive, epic way. I mean 33% is great. Just think of what it could be if everybody was open. Let me ask you a little bit again about tax incentives because you and I have talked in the past about New Hampshire – good old "Live Free or Die" country where there is no income tax as well as Texas no income tax, Nevada. There’s a lot of good places, Florida. It seems like a lot of people in California – I’m going to play you some sound from none other than Bill Maher, who’s confronting Adam Schiff about this mass exodus out of California. A lot of places are seeing a mass exodus away from these very high-tax areas. Here we go. I’m going to play the sound for you.

 

Bill Maher:                 California businesses are leaving the state in droves. In just 2018 and 2019, which were economic boom years, 765 commercial facilities left; 13,000 businesses left between 2009 and 2016. I feel like I’m living in Italy in the ‘70s or something. Super high taxes, potholes in the road. I don't know what I’m getting for my super high taxes. What do you say about that as the California representative?

 

Adam Schiff:               Well, I think we have to make every effort to make this a more business-friendly state. And I don’t think there’s anything incompatible with being progressive and also wanting to make sure that this is a place that businesses can survive and thrive.

 

Trish Regan:               Well, if businesses are going to survive and thrive, how are you going to do that with a progressive code of taxation, I would just ask, Art.

 

Art Laffer:                  In a portion of it, they're going to split level Prop 13. They're going to try to in this election in November. They’ve got another tax bill raising the rates above 13.3%. They are doing nothing of what Adam Schiff says. You cannot have a progressive fair society with tax rates at those levels. It’s just not going to happen. You, ultimately, as Phil Graham said, I’ve never been hired by a poor man. And if you get all those businesses leaving, how in the heck are the poor going to get jobs and get incomes?

 

                                    One of the most immobile factors of all time are the poor people living in the inner cities. And if all their jobs leave, they're just ruined. It’s very, very sad, and that’s what I wrote about. I was very involved in Prop 13 in California when I lived there and was a professor at USC. And Prop 13’s biggest benefit, we cut property tax rates by 60% from 2.7% of market value to 1% of market value. Is that a good enough cut for you? And the biggest beneficiaries were homeowners and the poor in the inner cities because all of the sudden all these shops flowed back into California, and we grew by a San Francisco a year. And over the decade from 1978 to 1988, we grew by a Massachusetts. By the way, that’s when Massachusetts was a lot bigger. It worked then and it works now. And to hear Adam Schiff say this stuff is just platitudinous nonsense. You got to cut taxes and make a low rate broad based flat tax and let’s get going and let’s get the machine going.

 

Trish Regan:               Okay, so then walk me through again what happens. You said Joe Biden is not as bad as he could be, right, when you see some of these candidates out there. Bernie Sanders comes to mind, of course. It could’ve been a whole lot worse. But nonetheless, you see increasingly the influence of the extremism from the Left even on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. So knowing that, how do you think Wall Street should interpret this right now? How should investors think about it because I just – I don't know. I’m a simple girl from New Hampshire, right. I’m like wait a second, they want to tax capital gains that much? That’s going to act as a drag on investment. I mean if I’m an investor, I’d be like, “Okay, let me take all my money out right before he gets this thing through because if I’m in, I can’t really get out if he’s raising taxes that much on the investment.” So I would think it would have a very negative effect and, yet, Wall Street seems to be kind of brushing it off and thinking, well, we’ll get enough coronavirus stimulus and other kinds of stimulus that we’ll be okay.

 

Art Laffer:                  I don’t think – I think – I don’t think the market sees them as bad as you and I do. They saw Obama very clearly. As Obama’s probability of winning the Democratic nomination was rising, the stock market was crashing. And by the time it came in, there was a huge crash, the 2008 to 2009 crash in the market. Nothing like that is happening now, Trish. I think markets do not see Biden and Kamala Harris nearly as bad as they did see Barack Obama and maybe they're right. I mean when I look at Kamala Harris, I don’t see a freak. I don’t see a weirdo. I see a very normal person who loves life. With Biden, I don’t see someone with a chip on his shoulder hating things. I just don’t see that. Yet, with all the other candidates, Democratic candidates, that’s all I saw were people with chips on their shoulder, people who had bad senior years in high school and they want to get even with the world.

 

                                    And I don’t see that in Biden and Harris, so I am not as panicked about them. You know what I mean. You can see these people. I mean, imagine Adam Schiff in his high school year, senior year in high school. Ugh! I mean he didn’t have fun his senior year. If you can imagine Jerry Nadler when he went to high school and what he was like in the senior prom. He had a, you know, he has a chip on his shoulder the size of New York City. And whenever you get angry people who are presidents, who are leaders, you’ve got a real problem. And I don’t think Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are angry, nasty people.

 

Trish Regan:               They're very, very political. I mean this business – they won’t even tell us what their plan is on the courts. They're very political people, and they may not be angry, but they need to get elected. And we’re now in a situation where it seems as though the Left and the Right have grown further and further apart, which is too bad, because as you and I have always said, Art, this doesn’t need to be political. Good, sound economics need not be political. JFK cut taxes, right? [Laughs] Yet, we’re seeing sort of the influence, if you would, of this extremism on the main part of the party. I mean you just don’t think that’s going to continue?

 

Art Laffer:                  I don’t think it will continue. I think these people just have a personal distaste for Donald Trump, and I think it’s very personal. I think it’s very visceral and once they – if they were to succeed now, I don't know that they're going to, but if they were to succeed and eliminate Donald Trump, I think then they’d have to deal with themselves, and then they would not have this unanimity whatsoever. And I think that if the market started crashing because of a tax plan, I think Kamala Harris and Joe Biden would reconsider that plan and would modify it to make things better, not worse. But the Democrats have huge differences amongst themselves.

 

Trish Regan:               Right and so that’ll be something that they have to sort out, I would think, if they get rid of Trump. And I’m not clear that they will only because I think like before, Art, I’m curious to get your thoughts on this. A lot of people are not really saying what they think. But when you look at the Gallup Poll, 56% of Americans saying they're better off now than they were four years ago, what does that tell you? Are they willing to just sort of hold their nose and vote for him anyway?

 

Art Laffer:                  Maybe vote for it. I don't know. I’m not an expert on voting so forgive me on that. And I’ll defer to greater minds than myself by a long shot, but let me just say that once they get a different president in, they will be very critical of bad policies. And I think it's just a visceral distaste for Donald Trump and, frankly, I know him personally. I think he’s just a great guy personally, but he is a very different person politically than he is in person. And he’s just done a great job on substantive matters as president. But when I saw the debate, I wasn’t proud of what happened in the debate, to be honest with you. I really wasn’t.

 

Trish Regan:               [Laughs] I figure you got to give him some credit. He was coming down with COVID-19, apparently, and he was trying to debate Chris Wallace and Joe Biden. So I look at it and I got to feel –

 

Art Laffer:                  [Crosstalk] I had to hide behind the couch to look at it, and I said oh no! And I’d hide again behind the couch. It was worse than the Al Gore/Jack Kemp debate – oh my god – which was just horrible. I love Jack Kemp, as you know, and he just – oh my god – he just did such a bad job on the debate. And I don’t think Trump did a good job on the debate, and I think that hurt him a lot. People want to like the man as well as the policies, and they just don’t like Donald Trump. And if he were to be – if we were to lose the race, I think the Democrats would then have an internal war amongst themselves.

 

Trish Regan:               Yeah, I think that’s a valid point and perhaps, as we think about our economy and our markets, that’s a helpful point because if you’re Kamala or if you’re Joe Biden, you don’t want to see the market tank. You don’t want to see GDP decline but, again, it just bothers me. Like why don’t they actually go read an Econ 101 textbook? Why don’t they sit down with you, Art, and have – you know, you could chart out the Laffer curve right there on a napkin for them. I mean this stuff, not to dismiss any of it. I mean I was going to say it’s not rocket science but, yet, in a way it is rocket science because it has such an amazing effect on all of us. But I just don’t sort of, you know, they're not willing to listen to how tax cuts could incentivize people.

 

Art Laffer:                  I think they will be. You know, right now they're in a political world, not an economic world. And once, if they get elected and they take over the White House, once they get into that Oval Office and the Roosevelt Room and they're sitting around there, it’s no longer just a political speech. It’s now something serious. And if they do something wrong seriously, they're going to bear consequences. You know, bad economic policies have consequences, and they do not want the consequences of bad economic policies. Believe me, no president – and I’ve been going to the Oval Office now, Trish, for over 50 years. I was in the White House with Nixon. I was George Schultz’s righthand person back then, and I’ve been watching it, and nothing is worse than when the economy turns south. Nothing makes the White House more unhappy than that. And these guys, I think, will take clear notice. And I think with Kamala Harris and with Joe Biden, they will have the ability to change their minds because they are not doctrinal and that’s my hope. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part. I’m an optimist all of my life. I really hope Donald Trump –

 

Trish Regan:               I know you are! It’s what I love about you, Art. [Laughs] You are an optimist.

 

Art Laffer:                  Well, I hope Donald Trump gets reelected and he’d do a great second term. He’s just a wonderful president. But if he isn’t, I think Biden and Harris may well change their tune.

 

Trish Regan:               Okay and could surprise us, and maybe this is partly what Wall Street is coming to the realization of. I think if they think it’s not going to be that bad and then, of course, if Donald Trump continues, it will be that good. Art, thank you so much for joining me today. I so appreciate it.

 

Art Laffer:                  It is my pleasure, Trish. You are wonderful. You’re my hero in this world, and I’ve just adored you forever.

 

Trish Regan:               [Laughs] Thank you, sir.

 

[Music]

Trish Regan:               I’m so glad to have with me as my next guest Raj Bhakta. He’s an American entrepreneur, a former political candidate, even a formal reality show contestant. But this is a man who really did an amazing job as the founder of WhistlePig Whiskey, one of the most successful premium whiskey companies in the United States. Now he’s back at it again with Bhakta Brandy and, most interestingly, he just bought a college. He just bought a college in Vermont because he wants to reinvent education. Joining me right now, Raj Bhakta.

 

Raj Bhakta:                 Hey, Trish, how are you?

 

Trish Regan:               I’m very good. So you’ve had a lot of success in the spirits business, but you’re trying to transition that success into something entirely different. Tell me what you’re doing. You just went out and you bought a college.

 

Raj Bhakta:                 Bought a college, yeah, bought Green Mountain College, which is a beautiful college in Vermont, a 200-year-old nearly institution that went out of business. And I’m bringing what I’ve learned in the spirits business to the world of higher education, which you and probably all of your listeners know is very badly broken.

 

Trish Regan:               So tell me why you think it’s broken.

 

Raj Bhakta:                 Well, people are graduating with unmarketable skills. They're graduating with boatloads of debt, and they're, furthermore, graduating with I think a head full of lies about the way the world is. And as an alternate to that, as an alternative to that, if you look at even the process – and here’s where I came in – I said look at the process of making brandy, for example, which is my business. Bhakta Brandy, which we launched on the 4th of July, 10 years to the day after the launch of WhistlePig, is a 50-year-old brandy. But delve into what makes a product – how to make a product like that. You have to know farming. You have to grow grapes. You have to know about the environment. You have to know soil. You have to know business. You have to understand history. You have to have an understanding of sales and marketing, which is critical not in creating the product but in selling the product. You actually have a very broad and marketable set of skills to enter the spirits business and the beverage alcohol business, which is a trillion-dollar industry globally, and there’s nobody focused on the education of it. So the vision is to graduate students with real marketable skillsets who, hopefully, will be entrepreneurs themselves and, like me, be able to start on farms in Vermont and grow very successful enterprises out of them.

Trish Regan:               So it’s sort of a back-to-basics thing. I mean one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you at this point in time was because of what’s been going on with coronavirus and how in some ways, Raj, I think it’s helped people to sort of appreciate their lives, their surroundings, their family, right. I mean that’s sort of the if you want to look at the glass-half-full side of this, as miserable as it’s all been, we really have kind of gotten ourselves a little more inward. If you look at people in the population makeup of so many cities across America, you see increasingly people are leaving and they're leaving for the country and they're focusing more on things that really do value. And so when I was thinking about that and I was thinking about what you were doing with this education institution, it kind of reminded me in some ways of something rather similar because you’re talking about sort of getting back to our roots, our agrarian roots, while simultaneously really having an appreciation for different intellectual thought.

 

Raj Bhakta:                 Absolutely. Well, look, I think this is a tremendous opportunity. The virus is an tremendous opportunity for people to remake their lives, especially young people, for the better. You know, as an alternative to being on the screen all day, you know, at Green Mountain College at this coming year, people have an education focus on nature. For example, if you want to – and we’ll learn very simple truths, which I think we’re missing – if you want to harvest, you have to sow. You have to put work in before you see the fruits of those labors. If you want to create a barrel, for example, that you’re going to put whiskey or brandy into, you need to have planned years before in planting trees that will turn into the wood that you’re making the barrels from. Those sorts of things, which is a very grounded education in the fundamental truths, which we see in nature which are really not what kids are learning in school today.

 

Trish Regan:               Not at all what they're learning.

 

Raj Bhakta:                 They're coming out very unhappy.

 

Trish Regan:               This is a non-profit venture for you?

 

Raj Bhakta:                 It’s totally non-profit, absolutely.

 

Trish Regan:               So you felt like you wanted to do something.

 

Raj Bhakta:                 Yeah, so I thought about what I was doing in business and in – which is really all farm-based businesses – and realized that this is something where there’s a lot of wisdom and there’s a lot of real lessons for life involved in really any farm-based business because you’re connected to nature. You’re connected to the land. You get some dirt under your fingernails, which is more, there’s blooming consumer demand for product where people know where they actually came from. I mean we’ve been in for 50 years in a craze of consumer goods, which are basically created in gigantic factories from the petrochemical industry.

 

Trish Regan:               Well, where you do you see this heading? What would be your goal with it?

 

Raj Bhakta:                 Well, the goal is revival and regeneration starting with this college. And the vision is that if you look five or 10 years down the road, we will have graduates who are successful in getting an education in the beverage alcohol business on farm-based businesses in the beverage alcohol business who are populating the town and the surrounding very fertile countryside with the best spirits, wine, and beer available and then growing out from there in different areas of agriculture where it’ll be a booming center of enterprise and entrepreneurship and the American Dream alive and well.

 

Trish Regan:               Do you think that there’s something else here, though, that other schools should take note of? Is there a philosophy in it? You started the conversation, and I agree with you, just pointing out how disastrous, right, higher education has gotten and how really you’re not allowed to have a different point of view. It’s my way or the highway, and we’ve seen story after story. Every single week there’s another example of a university professor or a university as a whole really clamping down on any diversity of thought. How do you want to change that?

 

Raj Bhakta:                 Well, look, you go back to nature, right. In nature, it’s really tough to lie, and it merely is what it is. If you want to have a product, you need to plan. If you want to have an operation which involves animals, you learn the basics of good and bad practices. If you have a cow that is not producing milk, that’s not the cow that you want to be feeding all your best grain to. It’s just simple fundamental basics that we’ve missed and you’re right. The single – and I think of my own kid. The last place if you want to raise kids who are – you want your children and kids themselves who want a real balance education who want to understand truth, the last place you want to go is Harvard or really almost any of the top American schools where they have shut down thought and truth.

 

Trish Regan:               No, yeah, it seems that there’s a need for this "back to basics" right now, and I think what you’re doing is pretty darn fascinating and we wish you all the luck. Raj Bhakta, terrific American entrepreneur. What a story you’ve had. Thank you so much for joining me today.

 

Raj Bhakta:                 It was a pleasure, Trish.

 

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Trish Regan:               These are really interesting time. There’s a lot to celebrate in our economy right now, and let’s hope we can keep on celebrating it. Art Laffer making some really insightful comments and, as always, he is glass half full. [Laughs] That’s one thing about Art, one thing I’ve always appreciated about him. He's one of the most positive people I have ever met. So he’s looking more optimistically, shall we say, at the Biden-Harris scenario than even I am, but I hope he’s right. I hope – because it’s so important that our country get this right. And Raj Bhakta, we wish him all the luck. Really interesting stuff happening there. And I’ll tell you, we really need a "back to basics" in society. We need to appreciate what we have, and we need to appreciate each other...which once again, gets back to understanding one another and being willing to listen to different sides and have some intellectual diversity. I’d love to see that on college campuses. Thanks so much, everyone, for listening to this edition of American Consequences With Trish Regan. I will see you back on my site Trishintel.com, and I’ll see you again here next week.

 

Announcer:                 Thank you for listening to this episode of Trish Regan’s American Consequences. We’d love to hear from you, too. Send Trish a note:  [email protected]. This broadcast is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered personalized investment advice. Trading stocks and all other financial instruments involves risk. You should not make an investment decision based solely on what you hear. Trish Regan’s American Consequences is produced by Stansberry Research and is copyrighted by the Stansberry Radio Network.

 

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