The Capitalist Comeback by Andrew Puzder

Today’s guest is Andrew Puzder, former CEO of CKE Restaurants, Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s, and former nominee for Secretary of Labor under President Trump. Jason and Andrew share their thoughts on the pandemic and whether it is an opportunity to remake America. They also talk about the regulation challenges with business and Andrew’s explanation for moving his company from Southern California to Tennessee.

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Jason Hartman 0:29
It’s my pleasure to welcome Andrew puster to the show. He is the former CEO of ck restaurants if you are not familiar with him. They they are the parent company for Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. Certainly are familiar with those big brands. He’s the former nominee for Secretary of Labor under President Trump. The number one bestselling author of job creation, how it really works and why government doesn’t understand it. And the capitalist comeback, the Trump boom and the left’s plot to stop it. Getting America back to work. And it’s time to let America work again. Andy, welcome. How are you? Great, Jason. Good to be here. Thank you. It’s good to have you and you’re coming to us from your your summer location, which is Northern Michigan, right?

Andrew Puzder 1:14
up in northern Michigan up on traverse Bay off of Lake Michigan.

Jason Hartman 1:18
Yeah, Yeah. cool in the summer, beautiful area for sure. Beautiful area. Well, hey, you know, there has been much talk and it’s become an obvious political football, these quarantines and lockdowns and it seems like everything is a political football nowadays even you know if someone tells me whether or not they believe in hydroxychloroquine I can tell you who they’re gonna vote for. Absolutely. In almost ridiculous world we’re living in, isn’t it? Yes. Talk to us about the thesis of your short and easy to get through book about getting America back to work or letting America go back to work.

Andrew Puzder 1:57
Yeah, it’s a it’s a pamphlet and kind of books called some broadsides, which it’ll it lays out the arguments for why we should let Americans get back to work, we should start getting life back to normal, where the democrats if they’d been very open about this, they said from the beginning they viewed pandemic as a means to enact their agenda. Even Joe Biden made a comment this is a an opportunity to remake America Whoa, well, we really don’t need to remake America, we’ve come through the worst of the pandemic. In fact, there was a declaration is called the bearington declaration came out by it was written by three neurologists. So virus experts, one from Harvard, one from Stanford, one from Oxford, and it’s been signed on to by over 6600 medical professionals and over 14,000 medical practitioners. And it says, Look, these lockdowns are a bad idea. They hurt people, they earn poor people, they cause more harm than they do good. The World Health Organization just came out last week and said the same things don’t lock your economies down. We’re creating started nation across the world, we’re really doing great harm to people. This is not helping people aren’t getting the medical care that they need. And you know, the CDC came out about two weeks ago and said survivability rates. Yeah, I’ll tell you quickly, I don’t want to bury in numbers. But if you’re from birth to 19, your chances of surviving COVID, if you get it are 99.997%. If you’re between the ages of 20 and 49, it’s 99.8%. And if you’re between 40 and 69, it’s 99.5%. It only drops to 94.6%. If you’re over 70, right, so the survivability rate on this is very high, we didn’t lock the economy down to prevent people from getting sick, we locked it down to prevent people from dying. And with the therapeutics we’ve got as President Trump demonstrated,

Jason Hartman 3:45
it’s time to let people get back out there. And not only that, it’s also about the health of the patient. And if they have co morbidity factors and all kinds of things. I mean, there are so many ways to lie with statistics. And you know, this is being used is just such a such a football to enact all sorts of agendas. But I’ll tell you, you alluded to it and you know, various people in the media and then Trump has alluded to it too. Of course, they don’t seem to be doing a great job of really explaining. You know, I like to talk handy a lot on the show about how you can’t hear the dogs that don’t bark. And you know, you may flatten the curve with a lockdown or maybe that’s debatable, but let’s not even debate that. You know, there are other problems created by lockdowns, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, all sorts of domestic violence issues. People should not be locked down for many reasons, not just it would it would be very myopic to simply look at the COVID infection rate. Because there are all these knock on problems that occur with these lockdowns aren’t there?

Andrew Puzder 4:56
Yes, there are there actually were two medical foundations that came out as early as May and said we’re dealing with an epidemic within the pandemic. And the epidemic was suicides, drug addiction, alcoholism, as you said domestic abuse real problems people not getting the medical care they need, right mammograms, people aren’t going to getting mammograms. It’s just going to lead to breast cancer and women. So there’s a lot of contra veiling factors here and lockdowns are not the answer they do. You do level the curve. But I think what we’re finding is that once you if you don’t let the thing run its course as they did in Sweden, it has happened in New York. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect the vulnerable. Look me I don’t mean to demean anybody’s loss of life or their suffering. But we got to protect the people that are vulnerable. But if you look at New York and Sweden, you know, there’s really nobody dying from this disease. They’re very, very few people. They’ve gotten this kind of under control and they didn’t do the lockdowns and this is why the World Health Organization and virologists and the CDC, have all come up with evidence showing that these lockdowns really are not good, long term solutions to this problem. And I guarantee you even if you look, you just look at the unemployment rate. We’ve talked about it being political. So we had in August, which is the most recent month for which we have the state unemployment rates. There were 10 states that had 6%, or lower unemployment. nine of them were Republican governors, and one of them will have a democratic governor that was Montana, which is a conservative state. If you look at the worst unemployment rates, there were 10 states that had over 10% unemployment, I including New York, California, our old home, tell him to home states, Illinois and New Jersey, they are a nine of those had Democratic governors, the one that didn’t have a democratic governor was very liberal Massachusetts. Obviously, this is very political, this is very political, we’re not doing what we should do to address the disease. of the arguments for what we should do are in the are in the booklet, it’s time to let America work. Again, we’re putting politics where we shouldn’t put it.

Jason Hartman 6:56
Now let’s say it’s not about people’s health and caring. And it’s amazing how the script has has flipped. I look at that on the left side of the spectrum. And if Trump does one thing or says one thing, they’re all upset about it, oh, people are gonna die, blah, blah, blah. And then if he does the opposite thing later and changes his mind, they’re all upset about that. It’s like, how can you when you cannot?

Andrew Puzder 7:19
Well, opening schools is a perfect example for that everybody was for opening schools. So you know, the left leaning states, I’m ready to start, but we have to open schools, Trump came out and said, you know, we should open the schools and all of a sudden, all the democrats were afraid that kids were going to die, you know, we’re going to, they’re going to be lined up like cordwood in the halls. But the fact of the matter is that this disease really doesn’t affect kids. Very, very rare. Well, they’re better. They’ll suffer serious consequences from the disease of the president’s son Baron just had this disease and recovered from it. Yeah. Now they do, there is a danger with big families that will infect older members of the family. And again, we do have to protect those people, right. But the risk to children from going to the big risk is that they don’t go to school, not that they do go to school.

Jason Hartman 8:01
It’s just like anything else in life, we protect the vulnerable because we’re good society. It doesn’t mean you make this blanket rule. I mean, you know, it’s the idea of you help an old lady across the street because she’s vulnerable. So yeah, no one’s saying we shouldn’t help the vulnerable. But it doesn’t mean it should be this, this blanket solution, if you will, you know, I’d like to ask you a little bit about some of your other work and your experience, you know, running ck, and so forth. If we could touch on that for just a moment. Sure. One of the things I did not know until we talk just before we started recording today, is that you moved the company out of Southern California, we both are, you know, lived in Southern California. And, you know, Ck was based in Anaheim. I was in Irvine Newport Beach, I you probably lived in the same areas, I’m guessing. And I remember Carl Carter used to dine at the Pacific club. I was a member there years ago. And and you would go there too. And I did not know you move the company to Tennessee in 2016. Tell us about that.

Andrew Puzder 9:05
Well, when when Jerry Jerry Broderick rent won his second term, we knew the taxes were going up, we knew that they were going to be these horrific regulatory burdens that they were putting on people. And I think I should point out the important thing with respect to California was it was meaningful that we move the corporate headquarters and that’s about 150 jobs. But the fact of the matter is that five years before that we stopped building restaurants in California. And that’s where you really create a lot of jobs. I mean, at one point in California, we had 20,000 employees between the company and our franchisees, but as a company we stopped building other franchisees kept building restaurants, right but as a company, we owned about half of them we stopped because the regulatory burdens when it came to building restaurants were so horrific, it just didn’t make any sense. We ended up moving the whole company out of the state I it’s funny when Jerry Brown was elected I called the executives or my executive team in which was about eight, nine pages. And I said, Look, ladies and gentlemen, I think we need to move I think we need to get out of California and I expected everybody to go you know, we lived that. Yep, I had moved the company, the headquarters from from Anaheim to Carpinteria, California, which is right outside of Santa Barbara. You know, we all lived in Santa Barbara. I lived in Montecito, which is, you know, just a beautiful place to live your lives there. I think it just Yeah, it’s a wonderful place. Yep. But I call it everybody. And I thought they were gonna go nuts that everybody every except for one guy, everybody said, we’re in, let’s go, when do we leave? Right?

Jason Hartman 10:34
Because they experienced the same thing you did at a corporate level, it’s c, k e, they experienced that same thing at a household, a family level and an individual level. What I noticed in California, and I really wanted to move for about 15 years, probably from 1995, until I finally left in 2011. And what I realized is that you just don’t want to live under a government that is desperate and broke, because they become predatory on their citizens. And so all kinds of little ways that you know, people don’t really talk much about it never makes it to the media, you know, the cost of a parking ticket, the cost of a speeding ticket, you know, the cost of your car registration, all of these just just, you know, you got to do the smog check on your car every two years. And you know, it’s like I got a brand new car under a lease, why do I do a smog check? I have a modified it. You know, it’s like these absurd rules, you know, and they just, they just wear on people. They just cost the money, money money all the time. I’ll give

Andrew Puzder 11:43
you some examples in the business sector it during my time at ck, we had restaurants in about 45 states and 40 foreign countries, as foreign countries included Russia and China, how many

Jason Hartman 11:53
units altogether between Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. around about

Andrew Puzder 11:57
3800 units worldwide. Okay. And it was easier to build an open a new restaurant in Novus suburb, which is in Siberia than it was to open one in Los Angeles. It was easier to open in Shanghai, China than it was to open in Los Angeles or San Francisco

Jason Hartman 12:15
and you think China, a communist country would be more difficult, but it’s actually easier? No, it’s,

Andrew Puzder 12:20
I used to we used to be an investor calls and and I, you know, I I’d be the one speaking investors would ask, Why are your costs so high in California? I always say, Well, welcome to the socialist state of California. I mean, that that was where we were living. I find me when people ask me, why’d you move? I tell them, I’m not a socialist. I couldn’t live in a socialist state. I mean, one more Bernie Sanders bumper sticker. And I think I was gonna have a heart attack. Yeah, yeah, it was

Jason Hartman 12:43
it. This was politically It was not a fun place to live. Right. Right. Yeah. But it’s just the the burden becomes just incredible. You know, can you cite any of those regulations? I mean, I can certainly give you examples. But like, why was it so difficult to just open a new restaurant? You know, what, how did they make it difficult? Like any specifics about that you can share?

Andrew Puzder 13:05
Well, most of the the initial difficulties in opening would be zoning requirements, you know, before you got a permit to build, they’d want you to put in a streetlight two blocks away that had nothing to do with your restaurant. I mean, this, the cities and state and counties in the state are so starved for cash, because all of the money goes into public employee pension fund benefits. So you’ve got, you know, you’ve got a very small percentage of the tax dollars that are collected that actually go to anything other than salaries and benefits for the teachers and firemen and policemen. And you know, God bless firemen and policemen. But the teachers union controls the state.

Jason Hartman 13:41
Yeah, well, so you’ve got on a national level, the NEA. I call it the national extortion Association. I mean, it’s unbelievable that they couldn’t care less about education. In fact, there is that infamous speech of the president of the NEA years ago, and it’s recorded, it’s on video. And maybe you can find it online. If Google hasn’t suppressed it, like they do, where they literally he or she, I can’t even remember it was years ago, was standing up at a podium at one of their conferences, saying we don’t care about children. We don’t care about education. We care about ourselves. That was a you know, unbelievable, you know,

Andrew Puzder 14:16
well, they’re they’re no raising the, you know, they passed Proposition 13 years ago, so you couldn’t increase taxes once you bought a piece of property, which, by

Jason Hartman 14:24
the way, when Howard Jarvis did that in 1978, that was one of the things I’ve always theorized that really allowed California’s property market to keep booming all those years. Yes, you take away prop 13. And the real estate market is going to suffer greatly in California, beyond all of the other problems it has, but go ahead with what you’re saying.

Andrew Puzder 14:47
And so this year, they’ve got on the ballot, they’re going to do it to remove the proposition 13 limit on commercial property. And the teachers have come out and said, they’ve been very clear about this. This is this is where they’re going to get the money to continue to increase their salaries and their benefits. I mean, they’re just going to tax that state to death. So you’ve so you’ve got real problems opened up when you open California, for example, you’re probably used to the 40 Hour Workweek you work 40 hours. If you work 41 hours, you get an hour of overtime with time and a half. In California, they don’t have a 40 Hour Work Week, they have an eight hour work day. If you work eight hours on Monday and you work one hour on Tuesday, you get overtime for the one hour you worked on Tuesday. I mean, it’s they have risk, but you have to take we had a ton of lawsuits all over the state, not just our company, but every company right? If you don’t give your employees a rest break at certain times, they they can sue and then you know, if you’ve got a business like a restaurant, you know, maybe a bus with 60 retired people pulls up at two o’clock we’ll have three employees run resprayed, or your general managers at rest break, your restaurants screwed and the you know, the people coming in aren’t going to get the service tickets, it just was almost impossible to operate a business in California got more and more difficult. And now Uber and Lyft are having a problem with they want to turn their employees into their independent contractors into employees, I mean, everything they can do to make it hard to operate a business and will do and interestingly, the Lyft and Uber drivers say they don’t want to be employees, they don’t want to be cut out have the opportunity to go drive their cars and have flex time and do whatever they want make their own hours. You know, they don’t want to be employees, they you know, the state is supposedly doing it for their good, but it’s not for their good at all. john stossel did a great piece on that he’s

Jason Hartman 16:35
been on the show before. And you know, something else. You’ll relate to this, Andy, I had a labor attorney that I hired years ago, when I lived in Orange County, her name was Nancy. And she said that her colleagues that work in Los Angeles, when they take an employer to court in LA, they call it the bank. That’s what they call the courthouse in LA, they say, I’m going to the bank, because they know that the judges all view the companies as just evil, big, terrible companies. And they will always lose and the employee will always win no matter how right or wrong anybody is. It’s just the predisposition of the judges, that they just are driving business away. And so they all ultimately Cause you know, unemployment was so counterproductive.

Andrew Puzder 17:27
It wasn’t just I wasn’t just a job. I was an attorney in California, before I became CEO of this company, I was called Carter’s attorney, he was the founder. But the it’s also the juries, you go to Los Angeles County, and you’re trying a lawsuit, you’re trying it to a bunch of juries who have been convinced that every business is bad. Every business wants to take advantage of people, every business is evil. And it’s very difficult to get a fair hearing for a business. So you end up settling a lot of cases you wouldn’t otherwise settle. Right? That’s your cost of doing business. When you’re a gal. It’s extortion, basically,

Jason Hartman 17:59
you know, it’s basically extortion. So, um, anything you want to say, Andy about job creation, the capitalist comeback, your other two books, you know, thank you for sharing that about because that’s, you know, like inside information that people don’t often hear what you just shared. So thank you for that. But anything else you want to tell listeners about the other two books or these are all such important topics?

Andrew Puzder 18:22
I think that the five The main thing right now with the election coming up is people should focus on where they want this economy to go. If you want to see the kind of year we hit in 2019, where we had the lowest poverty rate going back 60 years, that’s 10.5%. That’s the lowest since 1959, when they started tracking the data, and the largest single year drop in the poverty rate, and the highest increase in median family income. So family income went up more than it ever had gone up to a new record high of $68,700. If you want to get back to those days, you really need to vote for Donald Trump, who will cut taxes continue to reduce regulation focus on domestic energy, I will start operating under those renegotiated fairer trade or trade agreements. If you vote for Joe Biden understand and go to his website, you don’t have to believe me on this. Every program this guy proposes everything is huge government spending nothing and there is an incentive for private sector businesses to create jobs. And if you don’t have job creation, the private sector wages don’t go up. You know, people can’t find jobs, they dropped out of the labor force, the economy stagnates as it did when Obama and Biden were in office. So it’s important that this election is very important for your economic future and for your children’s economic future. Because

Jason Hartman 19:37
if Joe Biden wins this election, I don’t know if the economy ever recovers. And we’re in such a dynamic recovery at the moment that you’d like to see that continue. And the things you didn’t mention about 2019 also, or that, you know, minorities had it great women had great. We had the lowest unemployment rate for African Americans in I believe his Since they’ve been counting, and Latinos, same thing, you know, female workers, same thing. And it was the first time during Trump’s presidency, I’m not sure exactly what year it might have been 2017 or 18. But it took 41 years for American workers to get a real dollar meaning adjusted for inflation pay raise, it took 41 years. And during Trump’s administration was the first time there was a real dollar pay raise adjusted for inflation, where Americans were actually making more money in real terms. So yeah, it’s, it’s amazing. And, and, you know, just look at the stock market. I mean, what happened? The minute the election results occurred in 2016, right, the stock market went crazy. It went through the roof, because investors and business people were optimistic about growth. And, you know, it was just, it was just a sea change, you know, Hillary Clinton, one, it would have gone the other way completely,

Andrew Puzder 21:04
would never have happened. Under President Trump. We have 24 consecutive months beginning of March of 2018, where we had more job openings and people unemployed, but it never happened since for one month since the government began, began tracking the data in 2000. Obama didn’t have one month where we had more job openings and people unemployed. And for some of those 17 of those 24 months, there were more than a million job openings more than people unemployed. And beginning in August, because there were so many jobs, employers were competing for employees, we had 20 consecutive months where wage wage growth, annual wage growth exceeded 3%. Every month, right for 20 months. Now many months there were at post recession for Obama, where wage growth exceeded 3%, zero, or none. So people begin to get people started coming out of the woodwork to take jobs, the labor force participation rate went up and went down consistently throughout the Obama administration. And as we just said, particularly for, for for blacks or Hispanics, or Asians, the poverty rate came way down to historic lows, median family income went up to historic highs, you know, it’s, we can do that, again, this will happen again, we are on track for that. But to continue it, we’ve got to reelect Donald Trump, if you elect Joe Biden, this will all come to an end.

Jason Hartman 22:23
Very interesting. Do you want to give out a website? Sure. It’s

Andrew Puzder 22:27
Andy, Andy dot puster PUZD that’s my website where everything I write then all my appearances this one will go on there too. And you can also go online at Amazon and and get the book it’s time to let America work again, are the other books you mentioned, the capitalist comeback is probably my favorite of all the books but this new one that deals with letting America get back to work again, is very topical. And I think it’ll give you the argument you need to address other people and, and to help out your community. So I’m hoping people will give it a shot. Excellent. And it’s a short, easy read to so that’s,

Jason Hartman 23:01
that’s nice for today’s busy, busy life and short attention spans. So that’s good for good for a lot of people who are very busy and you can’t add another book to their list because this is a this is a quick one. Andy, thanks so much for joining us. appreciate having Yeah, my pleasure, Jason. Good to be here. Thank you.

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