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Oren Cass On Curbing The Free Market

Oren Cass On Curbing The Free Market

The conservative wonk urges the GOP to tack left on economics.

Oren is a writer and policy advisor. In 2012, he was the domestic policy director for Romney’s presidential campaign, and in 2018 he wrote The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America. In 2020, he founded the think tank American Compass, where he serves as executive director. He’s also a contributing opinion writer for the Financial Times.

You can listen right away in the audio player above (or on the right side of the player, click “Listen On” to add the Dishcast feed to your favorite podcast app). For two clips of our convo — on how China cheats at free trade, and the possibility of Trumpism without Trump — pop over to our YouTube page.

Other topics: growing up in a stable family in suburban Mass; both American parents grew up in Israel; Oren’s progressive charter school; turning to conservatism at his very liberal college; studying political economy; working at Bain; the gap between wealth and happiness; the stagnant protectionist UK before Thatcher; Brexit; how London is almost unrecognizable to older Brits; Adam Smith and David Ricardo; how no one predicted the fall of the Soviet Union; Tiananmen Square; neoliberalism’s obsession with GDP growth; NAFTA and the WTO; the China Shock; how the success of the free market swung the pendulum too far; the meaning of populism; Oren working for the Romney campaign after the Great Recession; the growing trade deficit; Biden following the Trump playbook on tariffs and industrial policy; semiconductors in Taiwan; the CHIPS Act; the left’s disdain for patriotism; the cheap labor of open borders; E-Verify; how the college-for-all model is a “toxic disaster”; Biden’s loan forgiveness; Trump’s advantage in the 2024 election; his growing multi-racial coalition; his tax cuts and their looming expiration; Republicans rethinking labor unions; reformicons like Reihan and Ross; and me calling out Yglesias for never paying for The Weekly Dish. (Subscribe!)

Browse the Dishcast archive for an episode you might enjoy (the first 102 are free in their entirety — subscribe to get everything else). Coming up: Nellie Bowles on the woke revolution, Noah Smith on the economy, Bill Maher on everything, George Will on Trump and conservatism, Lionel Shriver on her new novel, Elizabeth Corey on Oakeshott, and the great Van Jones! Send any guest recs, dissents, and other comments to

From a fan of last week’s episode with Adam Moss:

I didn’t think I liked Moss, but turns out that I do. And in describing his early days in journalism, he brought back fond memories of my salad days.

Another fan:

I really enjoyed your conversation with Adam Moss and the trip down memory lane, reminiscing about the great era of magazines in the ‘80s, especially Esquire. I loved, loved, loved Esquire. I still have two papers torn from its pages. One is an article by Anthony Brandt, “Living with the Past,” and one by Bob Greene, “The Cut.” The first is Brandt’s account of reaching forgiveness with his mother; the other is about the pain that boys experience being cut from a sports team. So many of the articles were deeply psychological and well-written that they stand the test of time. I can’t think of any magazine or journal today of its caliber. God bless Adam Moss for his contribution to a great magazine and all the pleasure it brought its readers.

Another writes simply, “Grady West is a mad genius” — the genius behind Dina Martina:

Another elaborates:

Dina Martina is the greatest, most under-appreciated character since at least the 1980s. I will never understand how Dina never really exploded in popularity in the Internet Age the way Pee Wee Herman or Elvira did during the latter years of television. For those who don’t know, Dina is an absolutely genius performer who can make so much humor in a few sentences: the mannerisms, the mispronounced words, the inappropriate word substitution (because she’s always trying to sound more profound than her vocabulary will allow), and generally misreading the room, then being an unreliable narrator of her experiences.

There is so little of Dina on YouTube, and even then the view counts are appallingly low relative to the amount of pure talent on display.

The very first time I saw a Dina Show, I said I had no idea why she wasn’t at Carnegie Hall and I couldn’t get in. Here’s a clip on YouTube where Dina took questions from Daily Dish readers — and another clip, and another:

Here’s a listener on one of the most popular Dishcasts lately:

Quick note to concur with the praise of the Johann Hari episode! Kudos, particularly when you told him to “carry on with your Protestant bigotry.” What a line! 

While I agree with some of your commentators that I don’t love when you rant and steamroll guests, and you can drift into aphorisms, it’s all vastly outweighed by your earnest and honest engagement on the most difficult of subjects. And your bravery at publishing feedback each week is remarkable — to see someone so strongly opinionated respectfully engage with equally passionate critics. So here is a vote for you to keep calm and carry on, especially with the British wit. Us Americans could stand more of it! 

In this week’s episode with Oren Cass, I talk about my experience with Ozempic after being on it for three weeks. Cartman’s story is forthcoming:

Here’s a serious correction from Johann’s book peeps:

A statement about a food critic taking Ozempic leading to a loss of joy in eating was incorrectly attributed to Jay Rayner. In fact, Mr. Rayner has never taken Ozempic and last year wrote an article explaining that he would not use the drug because it would risk him losing his pleasure in food. Mr. Hari apologizes for this error.

Another episode:

I’m not a huge podcast person. I’m a good 25 years behind the times when it comes to most technologies and media innovations, so I prefer the written word over podcasts. Still, once in a blue moon I listen to a podcast, and recently I listened to your conversation with Jonathan Freedland, mainly because I think the topic of anti-Semitism is vitally important.

What I loved about the episode was that it was a conversation in the best sense of the term. Two people — one sort of on the right, the other sort on the left, but neither dogmatically so — listening to each other, giving each other time to speak, and then offering complementary perspectives. Sometimes harsh disagreement is necessary when there are major differences, but most conversations work best when people come at issues from various perspectives that, although not the same, enrich the other person’s viewpoint. This episode was a masterclass in that sort of conversation.

Shucks. Here’s a guest rec:

Thanks as always for the Dish — I look forward to reading every Friday, and I listen to 90 percent of the episodes. Recently you were getting recommendations for guests you might disagree with, then you mentioned you may need to rethink your stance on drug legalization, at least when it comes to hard drugs. Gabor Mate might check both boxes. Most of his expertise is in trauma and addiction, but he occasionally discusses current events. He’s very “woke” but not a mean wokie at all. He worked in Vancouver with the most troubled and incorrigible addicts imaginable — street people, primarily. He’s very good at discussing the trauma that causes addiction and at helping us foster a compassionate mindset for those at rock bottom. His book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, was profoundly important to me. 

He’s not very good, however, at addressing the costs to society that arise when hard drugs are legalized or tolerated. It’s unrealistic to hope or expect people to always respond with compassion. And he might be a little kooky in the extent of his rejection of Western medicine (though I’m not in a position to know; it’s just a hunch). Some may find him a bit soporific. But I would love to hear you two in conversation. 

Another rec:

I want to suggest Padraig O'Tuama as a guest on your pod. He’s a peace activist, theologian, and gay Catholic poet, who brought together Protestant police and Catholic Irish citizens for peace and reconciliation talks during The Troubles at Corrymeela. Here’s a New Yorker piece on O’Tuama and his book Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World. He’s also a wonderful person; I took a peace-building class with him that centered on the use of poetry for bridge building.

Thanks! Will look him up. Next up, a few dissents over my column on the lawfare campaign against Trump:

As a lawyer, it doesn’t surprise me that you have gotten it wrong. The judge in NYC went out of his way on the second motion for a mistrial to put on the record that the fucking testimony by Stormy Daniels was only because Trump’s lawyers opened the door and, most importantly, because they didn’t object. Failure to object is fatal on appeal. The judge has covered his bases. NYS courts don’t dilly-dally. We’ll see how settling into a NYS prison before Labor Day works for Trump’s campaign.

We’ll see, I guess, what happens on appeal. Another dissent comes from a “retired (non-criminal) government attorney”:

Judge Cannon’s delay of the Florida case is not at all “fishy.” 

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