Do you just whine about problems, or do you try to solve them? For decades, many people complained and demanded that the government do something about automobile air pollution. Those in government had no clue on how to create a nonpolluting car, but they could pass rules and laws requiring others to do what they did not know how to do. These same politicians and bureaucrats could then say to the public “I voted to get rid of air pollution,” as if childish wishful thinking were a substitute for reality.

Fortunately, the world also contains many doers and problem-solvers who indeed make the world better. Science fiction writers could portray a world of electric cars and reusable rockets that would land on their tails. Rather than wait for someone else to solve the problems, a brilliant and hardworking young man named Elon Musk conceived solutions, raised the capital, and put together design, manufacturing and marketing teams that gave us the world’s most valuable automobile company — Tesla — and the world’s most successful space company — SpaceX. Along the way, he made himself the world’s richest man (off and on). He also set the record for the most taxes paid by any individual in one year. Yet Mr. Musk doesn’t seem to have making money as his primary goal.

While he may be the world’s primary doer, the title of greatest whiner could go to Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Ms. Warren specializes in grievance. She seems to resent the success of others, no matter how much good they have done. Being a White woman of privilege, she created a phony American Indian heritage for herself so she could identify with people she considered oppressed and take advantage of set-asides for minorities. Grievance advocacy pays well. Despite spending her life trying to regulate and tax the job-creating, productive individuals and businesses (thus reducing national income), she is reported to be a multimillionaire.

Many of us have been known to whine about the left-leaning bias of the mainstream or legacy media. But the problem is solvable and not as big as often portrayed. Cable news has many more liberal talking heads than conservative ones, but by far and away the most watched news channel is right-leaning Fox News, which frequently has more viewers than its competitors CNN, MSNBC, etc., combined. One fun irony is that over the years, the late-night comedy shows on the big networks evolved into political advocacy shows largely supporting Democrats. Then along came Greg Gutfeld on Fox News, who is funnier than the other late-night comedians and a conservative/libertarian. Fox News not only has to compete with all of the legacy media but also with conservative startups such as Newsmax, founded by entrepreneur Chris Ruddy.

Print media is considered to be overwhelmingly in the pocket of the Democrats, but the nation’s biggest newspaper is The Wall Street Journal, which leans Republican and has far and away the most influential editorial page in the country and perhaps the best straight news coverage. The New York Times, a Democratic house organ, greatly influences smaller newspapers as to what should be or not be covered. Both the Democratic-leaning Washington Post and the Republican-leaning New York Post influence the national dialogue, but the New York paper has a bigger circulation and the most quoted headlines. Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post for a reported $250 million — chump change in relation to the estimated $44 billion that Elon Musk paid for Twitter, which he later renamed X. The speculation is that Mr. Bezos bought The Washington Post as a comparatively inexpensive way of influencing the Washington establishment to support or kill issues that he has a particular interest in.

Print media have been losing circulation for decades as readers and advertisers have moved to various forms of electronic media. The country’s fifth-largest newspaper, USA Today, and its newspaper holding parent company, Gannett, has a market cap of only about $500 million (far less than former President Donald Trump’s startup message company, Truth Social). Right- or Republican-leaning billionaires or investment groups might find buying up newspaper chains or individual newspapers an inexpensive way of spreading their message.

Traditionally, most big-audience radio talk shows have had right-leaning hosts — the late Rush Limbaugh being the most influential. The exception has been NPR, which has been a bulletin board for the Democrats for decades. It receives a good share of its funding from taxpayers and thus should be very balanced — but the Republicans have always been weak-kneed when overseeing NPR. Because of the recent NPR scandal, the Republicans are holding hearings, but whether they will do anything more than continue to whine remains to be seen.

The new media — social media platforms such as Facebook, message boards like X, and podcasts like “The Joe Rogan Experience” — are vying for listeners and viewers. The Democrats had a big social media advantage, but that appears to be waning. It is not clear which political party and ideas will have the “new media” advantage, broadly defined in the coming years. What is clear is victory will go to the team with more doers and fewer whiners.

• Richard W. Rahn is chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth and MCon LLC.

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