Washington, DC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 12/20/2016 --DAWN BENNETT: According to global entrepreneur and political author Dick Sim, we need fewer laws, less regulation and stronger cultural norms. Sim, who has spent the last three decades traveling the world overseeing global industrial operations as CEO and chairman of two New York Stock Exchange traded public companies, is addressing all of this and more in his new book Freedom To Argue: We the People Versus They the Government. Sims has intimate knowledge of global capitalism, cultures and the role that technology plays in transforming the society. I think Dick is the perfect person to discuss with us this coming clash that we're going to have between the U.S., the European Union, the Middle East and Africa and how these disparities are fueling geopolitical changes. And this is where I want to start. Dick, welcome to Financial Myth Busting.
DICK SIM: My pleasure, Dawn.
BENNETT: Dick, I believe the reality today is America's fighting for its life. Most Americans don't seem to understand the gravity of the challenges we're facing. In fact, it seems to us the U.S. is fighting for its existence on three fronts: economic, cultural and physical. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on each one of those. For example, on the economic front. My personal goal, and I think yours is the same, is the government's got to get out of the way. But where would you go with that?
SIM: Well, I think the government is a part of the problem, particularly for certain segments of our society. I mean, the United States economy for up to 50 years, 1950-2000, GDP grew, welfare state grew, everyone was sort of dumb and happy. But lately, the last decade or so, economic growth has been weak and there's large segments of our society, the bulk of them the working people, who are really suffering. We still have a bunch of people that do really well: the big business people, the big politicians, the think tanks, those people that are surrounded and interact with them they are doing very well. So, we have a sort of fragmented society and that's part of what we saw with the Trump force. So we're sinking the bottom of our society, economically, but that's connected to cultural issues, it's also linked, I think, culturally. And then I think we're facing issues in the world and some of our political elites have been very enamored over the last decade or so with the idea of global government but they should put that in their back pocket right now. There is no global consensus as to how we should behave. Other countries are pursuing their what I would call 'naked self-interest'. And certain parts of the world that are really in deep trouble – I would say Africa is a continent that is really in bad shape: very, very poor, still a very growing population, the governments are generally corrupt and don't work, and none of us want to talk about it and one reason we don't want to talk about this is political correctness and that's because a lot of these countries were colonies back in the 40s and 50s and if we talk about it then you get back to being called a racist, a bigot. So we have a whole continent that's failing and because it's failing the people want to get out. I don't blame them but if we let all these people arrive in Europe and in the U.S., which they're increasingly doing, it's a disaster, I think, for them and for us.
BENNETT: But what about this mass exodus out of the Middle East, for example? I understand both sides of the argument. You don't want to drown your country with refugees who don't fit in and don't contribute but you also don't want to sit there as thousands of migrants drown while trying to escape oppression by fleeing across the Mediterranean. Is there any historical precedent that might offer some clues as to how to handle this moral quandary we're in?
SIM: It is a moral quandary, but Australia has been dealing with the same issue in terms of people trying to come across from Indonesia in boats and basically they solved it by picking up the boats and taking them back to camps there, not letting them come to Australia. That's what they've done. And right now if you look at Italy, which is a country that I know very, very well and I've spent a lot of time there. What happens there is people smuggle people in big rubber boats that take them out of the Mediterranean towards Italy and abandon them and then other boats pick them up and bring them to Italy. What we need to do is be able to pick them up and take them back to Africa. Of course, unfortunately Libya right now is an unstable environment with its issues there, but bringing them all across doesn't make any sense. And if people want a moral justification for doing this, and I'm all focused on the United States, then we need to say 'Well, don't we have an obligation to help all these people around the world?' Yes, we do. And we should help them over there. But the biggest contribution America makes to the world today is, if you look at practically all the new technology that's been industrialized since the Second World War that came out of the U.S., it has immense implications in terms of the wealth of the United States but also throughout the world in terms of relieving global poverty and suffering. So it's very important that the U.S. continue to perform this vibrant, high added value, technical, innovative work. We need immigration policies that support that, and it's very important we continue to do that. So that's our moral justification for saying 'We need to be selective about who we bring over here.' We can't help everyone and we need to keep doing what we do because the world needs what the U.S. does in terms of inventing new technology in agriculture, computers, software, medical technology. You can go across the board in terms of these. And we have a particular way our society is organized structurally but also culturally that does that. We don't often talk about that and we don't teach it to our children. It's a very precious reality that we need to care more about and protect more.
BENNETT: In regards to the core values that made America strong or Europe strong, I think that many are worried about the clash of values, about when migrants come over will there be a real assimilation into Europe or even America or would that almost be impossible because of differences in cultural values. I just wonder if this continued migrant crisis is going to impact the politics and the economy in America, for example?
SIM: Yes, I think that you have a double-barreled issue. You have immense amount of poor people who want to get out and come and then the second part of that is many of them are Muslim and we struggle mightily with that. If the U.S. wants to understand that phenomenon they need to look at Europe because Europe has been dealing with significant Muslim immigration for 50 years. Right now, in the United States the concern understandably is terrorists coming in and that type of thing but that's really not the big issue. The big issue is the evidence in Europe is that Muslims—not all Muslims but a lot of those who come to Europe—they do not assimilate, they set up communities that are self-segregated and they continue to live by the values of conservative Islam. And these values, in terms of the treatment of women, gays—you know, you've got sexual crimes honor killings, female genital mutilation, a bunch of stuff that are unacceptable in the west but they continue in Europe. We have these issues on a much smaller scale in the United States. People might be surprised to know that the U.S. just issued a report a number of years ago. They looked at honor killings. There is likely there's something like 25 to 27 honor killings in the United States every year but it's below the radar. We don't talk about it. It's not reported. But in Europe it's a big issue right now and it's been growing and growing and growing. And right now in Europe in every country there's a political party that's organized around being anti-Muslim. And they're trying to deal with it. That's late in the day but they're trying to deal with it. Right now they are trying to confront it and it's one of the things that is tearing Europe apart and of the other things tearing Europe apart is the economic issues. The cultural issues are tearing Europe apart. The long-term issue is the lack of assimilation and the United States should learn from Europe. It's not a question of—we believe so much in freedom of religion that it's very, very difficult for Americans to say 'Well, I wish we can discriminate against Islam.' The way to think about Islam is not as a religion, but as a way of organizing a complete society. If you look specifically Islamic countries, if you go to pure Islamic countries, like Saudi Arabia does not allow any exhibits of any other religion except Islam so there's no Christian churches, there's no temples or anything like that, and the role of women, the way sharia law controls everything, the life of the family is all very defined. And that's what these people are taught to believe, and when these people come to the United States or to Europe you can't expect them to give up everything they've been taught. You just can't expect this. It's kind of like saying, 'Okay, if you're a very devout Christian and you're going to emigrate to China you have to stop being a Christian to do that.' You can't ask people to do that. People need to think about it from these practical terms. As I said, the issues are very real in Europe and they've been growing over the last 50 years and they get worse and worse and Europe is now starting to confront it. The United States is still a very small Muslim population but we have some of the same issues but they're under the radar. The newspapers don't report about them and we don't talk about them but we do need to talk about them but it's very difficult to talk about them because of the political correctness. You know, if you talk the way I'm talking right now, people start calling you names so it's hard even to have the right discussions about these things respectfully without being derailed because of political correctness.
BENNETT: I know you're from Britain, as you stated, but I recently read a story about London University students – this is all part of this – that demanded white lecturers be banned from campus and then called for a ban on major British newspapers on campus. I mean, does the millennial generation actually believe in the freedom to argue? Have we lost sight of the importance of debate and the marketplace of ideas in Europe and in America?
SIM: A certain percentage of young people at universities and colleges today, and I don't think there's a real good data in this but I put it like 25 percent of them are into this microaggression, diversity, social justice movement. Now no one's opposed to social justice but these people are too fragile for this world.
BENNETT: I agree.
SIM: And you wonder where they come from. They always say they come out of an environment in the schools today where they try to manage the environment in an excessive way and these kids grow up with ideas that America is unjust because they're taught that in school. And because they feel the America is unjust they feel their mission in life is to fix these issues. America is the most just society in the world. It's not perfect, it never will be perfect, but it's a lot better than it was 40-50 years ago. By any comparison, if you look around the world today, the United States is by far the best country in terms of the economy, standard of living and justice. To know that you have to live outside the United States and I've spent half my life living outside the United States. I've controlled businesses all over the world, I've had employees of all races and religions, and if you traveled around the world a lot you know the United States is the best place in the world. For the last 20, 30, 40 years we've had people, particularly in our universities and colleges teaching our kids the western civilization is based upon injustice and consequently there's something really bad about this society. And it's just the message that is, I think, out of context. Obviously there's all these things that are not quite right.
BENNETT: Many Americans today almost feel like we're back in the 1960s. I mean, they're angry with the government. Certainly, the government for the last 8 years here in the U.S. has interfered more with our lives, but they also blame it for not providing them with happier, prosperous life, much more what we had in the 70s and 80s and 90s. As an entrepreneur who was able to create your own happiness, what do you blame this changing cultural trend on? Or is it just the administration that we had?
DICK SIM: Well, it's a complicated mix of things and it's no one thing, but obviously the welfare state that we ushered in the 60s and has grown since then. It does a lot of good but also has certain destructive aspects that culturally lead to families being destroyed particularly at the lower end of our society. That's immense implications for our children. If you look at it from a pure business point of view, over the last 10 years the big business, global business continued to do very well. The small business in this country, which is the heart of our economy, has been really hammered. There was a period of years there where there were more small businesses going out of business than being created, which is very unusual for this country. So the small business component, which tends to be hidden in the society and that's created so many jobs, has really suffered over the last 8 years and that's part of the reason there is a shortage of the jobs and it's part of the reason there's shortage of growth. And again, part of that comes back to the government. Right now they take nearly 40 percent of the GDP and as they're taking 40 percent of the GDP that's less that can be used to go and invest and create jobs. So we're out of balance, I think, in terms of too big government, too expensive government, but we also have these cultural issues that have gone back over the last 40-50 years and I blame my generation for sex, drugs and rock & roll solution for happiness. It hasn't worked too well.
BENNETT: That was my generation too. Finally, I do have a question about politics here in the United States, about Donald Trump. As everybody knows, he's set to take over in January and one hope is that he'll pass major tax reform which will hopefully clean up a tax code that hasn't been significantly reformed since Reagan's tax cut packages in 1981. And Hillary, by the way, you know that she wanted to go where the money is and levy new taxes on the richest. You've written about how that makes no sense. If you were advising Trump right now, what would you suggest?
SIM: I think what he wants to do seems to be the right thing, which is to cut taxes, put more money in the pocket of people and the people that need it the most are the middle class. Hopefully he'll be able to do that. The thing that I talk about in the book is that Bernie and Hillary are competing with each other to vilify and say 'Let's tax the rich more.' Yeah, you can tax the rich more but it's not going to bring you a lot more money and the evidence for that is very clear. If you go back to 1950, the marginal tax rate in this country was 92 percent. Right now it's 39.7 percent so it's more than double. It stayed up in the 90s in the 50s and the 60s and then it dropped down eventually to about 70 percent. So we appeared to have 20 years with very, very high tax rates. And the amount of money the government brings in every year seems very steady – somewhere between 60 to 90 percent of GDP. And it's kind of a curious thing but if you raise the taxes on the very rich you bring a little more money but it doesn't solve our problems in terms of national debt. The fact we're running a big deficit can be a little bit of a contribution, but it's not the panacea that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton presented to be. So what Trump wants to do in terms of cutting taxes to help small business is particularly very important. That will create jobs, cut taxes to put a little bit of money in the pockets of the middle class, and I think what Paul Ryan wants to do – he's got a program ready, it's called 'A Better Way'. It's not very well-defined but I think the right kind of welfare reform—that's difficult to assume, but the right kind of welfare reform can be very helpful in terms of encouraging people to get jobs and have jobs and create lives around these jobs. There's a number of things they're encouraging and I think that Trump is on the right track and I think that Hillary and Bernie were just kind of mistaken.
BENNETT: Do you think that Europe is excited that Trump's becoming president?
SIM: Europe also gets off-balance, I think. They worry about Trump because they don't know. In fairness, we really don't know yet but everything is very positive. And I think Trump's got two big contributions to make: one is economically; equally important is the cultural thing. He's breaking the taboos of political correctness in terms of freedom of speech and ability just to talk to each other. Clearly, Trump is making immense changes on the cultural level and that is probably as important as any economic policy he puts into place.
BENNETT: Dick, I want to thank you so much for being on the show. Everybody, you need to get his book Freedom to Argue: We the People Versus They the Government. Thanks, Dick.
For over a quarter century, Dawn Bennett has been successfully guiding clients through the complexities of wealth management. Her unique vision and insight into market trends makes Bennett a much sought after expert resource with regular appearances on Fox News Channel, CNBC, Bloomberg TV, and MSNBC as well as being featured in Business Week, Fortune, The NY Times, The NY Sun, Washington Business Journal in addition to her highly regarded weekly talk radio program - Financial Mythbusting. Through prudent and thoughtful advice, Dawn Bennett has strived to consistently provide the highest quality of guidance.
About Dawn Bennett
Dawn Bennett is CEO and Founder of Bennett Group Financial Services. She hosts a national radio program called Financial Myth Busting http://www.financialmythbusting.com.
She discusses educational topics and events in the financial news, along with her thoughts on the economy, financial markets, investments, and more with her live guests, who have included rock legend Ted Nugent, as well as Steve Forbes and Grover Norquist. Listeners can call 855-884-DAWN a as well as take podcasts on the road and forums for interaction.
She can be reached on Twitter @DawnBennettFMB or on Facebook Financial Myth Busting with Dawn Bennett.