Always Seeking

The Far Middle episode 106 release date of May 31 coincides with the anniversary of artist Louise Bourgeois’ 2010 passing, as well as the 80th birthday of football great and pop culture icon, Joe Namath. Nick looks back on Broadway Joe’s western Pennsylvania roots, college and pro football accomplishments, and post-football showbiz career as the Super Bowl III MVP is featured for this installment’s dedication.

As the episode’s connections begin, Nick explores a recent column on America’s minimum wage by Duke University Professor Michael Munger. Munger puts into surprising context the percentage of U.S. workers who earn the minimum wage and where that puts them in the world income distribution. “Most Americans including myself, are a bit clueless on fundamental, economic matters,” says Nick after learning that fewer than 2 percent of U.S. workers earn the minimum wage, which places them in the top 15 of the world income distribution.

After discussing the clear benefits of capitalism and a free market versus those systems that focus on value re-appropriation, Nick connects economic power and strength to the economic, military, and geopolitical rivalry between America and China. Specifically, Nick analyzes a speech from April by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on the U.S. – China economic relationship.

“Any interconnections economically between ‘us and them,’ to quote a Pink Floyd song, should not be given the benefit of the doubt and instead should undergo a thorough analysis and diligence to pass muster under the lens of national security interests,” says Nick. “And if we perform such an analysis, guess what? Most, much of those economic ties between China and the United States, they would be viewed as destructive to U.S. interests and would need to go.

“What I see is that a drastic lessening of current economic ties between the West and China would not be disastrous for the West and the United States as Dr. Yellen indicates, but it would be advantageous and helpful to our interests. It would make the West stronger, and this is coming from a free trade and capitalism advocate.”

Continuing off Secretary Yellen’s remarks, Nick revisits a frequent Far Middle theme: how Western climate change policies strengthen China, and work against America’s economic, military, and geopolitical interests. Nick then takes the conversation into the European/U.S. trade war over subsidies for wind, solar, and electric vehicles. “Expect the EU to double down on their level of subsidy in the energy transition, if they can afford it,” says Nick.

Staying on the energy transition, Nick lays out the big three math problems with EV mandates and subsidy. “Climate change policies are being exposed as the commandments of an ideological religion that rejects science.”

In closing, Nick reflects on the career of jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, a Pittsburgh native and “one of the pioneers of the cool jazz movement.” While we lost Ahmad this past April, his work and inspiration live on. Add At the Pershing to your Spotify playlist and continue seeking.