America Cannot Become Great Again By Government “Protectionism”

George F. Will highlights two important principles on productivity and protectionism, in A plan to make America 1953 again – The Washington Post:

1. Productivity Increases Per Worker In A Particular Industry Means Lower Prices and Less Workers In That Industry

Since 1900, the portion of the U.S. workforce in agriculture has declined from 41 percent to less than 2 percent. Output per remaining farmer and per acre has soared since millions of agricultural workers made the modernization trek from farms to more productive employment in city factories. Was this trek regrettable?

[…] According to a Ball State University study, of the 5.6 million manufacturing jobs lost between 2000 and 2010, trade accounted for 13 percent of job losses and productivity improvements accounted for more than 85 percent: “Had we kept 2000-levels of productivity and applied them to 2010-levels of production, we would have required 20.9 million manufacturing workers [in 2010]. Instead, we employed only 12.1 million.” Is this regrettable? China, too, is shedding manufacturing jobs because of productivity improvements.

2. “Protecting” Particular Companies From More Efficient Producers Decreases Jobs In Unprotected Industries (Shifts Unemployment)

Levinson notes that Ronald Reagan imposed “voluntary restraints” on Japanese automobile exports, thereby creating 44,100 U.S. jobs. But the cost to consumers was $8.5 billion in higher prices, or $193,000 per job created, six times the average annual pay of a U.S. autoworker. And there were job losses in sectors of the economy into which the $8.5 billion of consumer spending could not flow.

[…] In 2012, Barack Obama boasted that “over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires.” But this cost about $900,000 per job, paid by American purchasers of vehicles and tires. And the Peterson Institute for International Economics says that this money taken from consumers reduced their spending on other retail goods, bringing the net job loss from the job-saving tire tariffs to about 2,500. And this was before China imposed retaliatory duties on U.S. chicken parts, costing the U.S. industry $1 billion in sales. Imports of low-end tires from Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico and elsewhere largely replaced Chinese imports.

In the long run, the best way to create real jobs, that raise the standard of living, is a free-market.

“Protecting” particular domestic sectors from foreign competition ends up punishing other Americans on the whole with higher prices, less jobs and a reduced standard of living.

The Syrian War Condensed

Interesting analysis: The Syrian War Condensed: A More Rigorous Way to Look at the Conflict.

The author compares the Assad Syrian Baathist regime to the alternative of the “moderate Rebel’s” anything-but-moderate Islamofascism, and wonders how the Regressive Left that is “mourning the defeat of the rebels in Aleppo” can be “that stupid?”

The Assad regime is by no means benign, but cheering the overthrow of it with something worse is no solution.

Central Dictatorship vs. Individual Planning

Brian Phillips has an excellent post on Houston’s success because of its’ lack of zoning. Writes Phillips in Planning Versus the Central Planner:

What they are really denouncing is the fact that Houston has developed without a central planner. […]Houston’s development has been guided by millions of plans and visions. Each individual has his own plan and vision. Through the lack of zoning, Houston has protected the freedom of its residents to pursue their personal plans and visions. The critics resent the fact that Houstonians have this freedom.

The entire post is worth a read.

Obama’s Autocratic Parting “Gifts” For The Trump Aministration

Writes Kimberley A. Strassel on Obama’s Midnight Regulation Express – WSJ:

1. Obama Administration is “actively working to undermine a Donald Trump presidency.”

Unnamed administration sources whisper stories about Russian hackers to delegitimize Mr. Trump’s election. […] Trump transition-team members report how Obama officials are providing them with skewed or incomplete information […] Sen. Ron Johnson recently sent a letter to President Obama voicing alarm over “burrowing,” in which political appointees, late in an administration, convert to career bureaucrats and become obstacles to the new political appointees.

2. Obama Administration is issuing a “final flurry” of midnight regulations (“one issued between Election Day and the inauguration of a new president.”)

This past week we learned of several sweeping new rules from the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, including regs on methane on public lands (cost: $2.4 billion); a new anti-coal rule related to streams ($1.2 billion) and renewable fuel standards ($1.5 billion). This follows Mr. Obama’s extraordinary announcement that he will invoke a dusty old law to place nearly all of the Arctic Ocean, and much of the Atlantic Ocean, off limits to oil or gas drilling. This follows his highly politicized move to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota. And it comes amid reports the administration is rushing to implement last-minute rules on commodities speculation, immigrant workers and for-profit colleges—among others.

3. Trump Administration should repeal every “midnight regulation.”

What Freedom Sounds Like: Pence on “Hamilton Gate”

Pence attended the hit Broadway show Hamilton on Friday. He received a mixed reception from the audience that included some booing, and during the curtain call the cast had a message for him saying, “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.” Donald Trump was upset and tweeted that the cast should apologize, but Pence told Wallace he loved the show and “wasn’t offended by what was said.” He acknowledged the booing mixed in with the cheering when he arrived, but said his reaction at the time was to tell his daughter, “That’s what freedom sounds like.”

We may not be Pence fans, and don’t agree with many of his views, but Pence acted Presidential.

Hopefully the President elect can learn from this.

Simpson: Both Left and Right Don’t Support The *Right* To Free Speech on Principle

Steve Simpson, a constitutional lawyer, and director of Legal Studies at the Ayn Rand Institute has a brilliant op-ed in TheHill on why Free speech is a right, not a political weapon.

He makes the case for why free speech “protects the right to take the actions necessary to make one’s speech heard, whether that means spending money on political ads or publishing books or newspapers free of the crushing costs of frivolous libel lawsuits.”

1. Trump Does Not View Free Speech as a Right

Trump […] doesn’t view it as a right that protects speakers regardless of their views. […] Whether Trump is opposing free speech outright or trying to bully speakers, he is no friend of free speech.

2. Trump’s Urge to Censor is No Different From Hillary Clinton

[…] Trump’s urge to censor this form of speech [flag-burning] really different from Hillary Clinton’s desire to ban the political speech at issue in Citizens United? The case, which upheld the rights of corporations to speak during elections, involved a law that prevented a nonprofit from distributing a film that criticized Clinton the last time she ran for president. During her campaign, she promised repeatedly to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn the case, calling the film it protected “a right-wing attack on me and my campaign.”

3. Campaign Finance Laws Silence Freedom of Speech

During the floor debates for McCain-Feingold, the law at issue in Citizens United, many politicians, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz., included, championed the law because it would prevent groups from funding negative political ads against them. After Citizens United was decided, Congress considered the Disclose Act, which would have forced many organizations to disclose their donors. In praising the law, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that its “deterrent effect” on corporate political speech “should not be underestimated.”

4. Politicians Attacking the Speech of Opponents is Not New

Remember the Obama administration’s attacks on Fox News as “not really a news station”? Or the FCC’s investigations of news broadcasters to determine if their coverage was “biased”? It is certainly scary for Trump to attack the media as he’s done, but it is equally scary when any president or administration does so. […] Remember Harry Reid’s sustained assault on the Koch brothers, whom he called “un-American” for having the temerity to oppose his agenda? Or the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups, which was prompted by politicians who urged the agency to investigate the groups?

5. Both Left and Right Don’t Understand or Support The *Right* To Free Speech on Principle

They treat free speech not as a principle but as a weapon to be used against their political enemies. When your enemies are in power, complain about the threats to speech you like; when you are in power, use government to intimidate and silence your critics.

Don’t for your bookshelf, his book, Defending Free Speech (ARI Press,2016).

Jacoby: Harvesting The Organs of China’s Prisoner’s of Conscience

Writes Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe:

The documentary, “Human Harvest,” won the coveted Peabody Award for its exposé of an unspeakable crime against humanity. In 1999, Chinese hospitals began performing more than 10,000 organ transplants annually, generating a vast and lucrative traffic in “transplant tourists,” who flocked to China on the assurance that they could obtain lifesaving organs without having to languish on a waiting list. China had no voluntary organ-donation system to speak of, yet suddenly it was providing tens of thousands of freshly harvested organs to patients with ready cash or high-placed connections. How was that possible?

The evidence, assembled by human-rights researchers and investigative journalists, added up to something unimaginable: China was killing enormous numbers of imprisoned men and women by strapping them down to operating tables, still conscious, and forcibly extracting their organs — and then delivering those organs to the hospital transplant centers that have become a major source of revenue. Chinese officials claim that organs come from violent criminals on death row. But “Human Harvest” makes it clear that most of those killed are peaceful citizens persecuted for their beliefs: Tibetans, Uighurs, Christians — and, above all, practitioners of Falun Gong, a Buddhist-style spiritual movement of peaceful meditation and ethical commitment.

Read the rest of In China, prisoners of conscience are literally being butchered.

See the movie trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EykFRYWl9Q

 

 

Bayer: Developing a Critical Mind for Judging The Validity of News

In the The Sniff Test – Medium philosopher Ben Bayer lists 5 important questions one should ask in judging stories we hear online:

(1) What is the source of this story and what do I know about it?
(2) How likely is the story to be true in the first place?
(3) If this were true, what else would be true?
(4) Does the story represent its own facts honestly?
(5) Why do I want to believe it is true? Why would someone else want me to believe it’s true?

Cross: Political Executions in Communist Cuba

Writes James Scott Linville on Plimpton and Hemingway in Cuba in The Paris Review:

Castro’s death has renewed an open, vibrant, and sometimes heated debate about his regime and its treatment of Cuban citizens. Twenty years ago, in the aftermath of the Cold War, much less was known in the U.S.—these were not things the American media dwelled upon. An incident while working at The Paris Review with George Plimpton in the early nineties opened my eyes, especially to Che Guevara’s supervision of the detention of political prisoners at La Cabana prison in Havana.

[…]

A sad look overtook his face, and he began to explain: “Years ago, after we’d done the interview, Papa invited me down again to visit him in Cuba.” (In the fifties, George had interviewed Hemingway for the magazine on the Art of Fiction, and now he always referred to him as Papa, as Hemingway encouraged his young friends to do.) “It was right after the revolution,” George continued. After he arrived in Havana, he settled in at a hotel room above a bar. One afternoon, at the end of the day, Hemingway told him, “There’s something you should see,” and to come by the house.

When he arrived at Hemingway’s house he saw they were preparing for some sort of expedition. Before they ventured forth, the elder writer made shakers of drinks, daiquiris or whatever, and packed them up. This group, including a few others, got in the car and drove for some time to the outside of town. Arriving at their destination, they got out, set up chairs, brought out the drinks, and arranged themselves as if they were going to watch the sunset. Soon enough, a truck came, and that, explained George to me, was what they’d been waiting for. It came, as Hemingway explained to them, the same time each day. The truck stopped and some men with guns got out of it. In back were a couple of dozen others who were tied up. Prisoners. The men with guns hustled the others out of the back of the truck and lined them up. And then they shot them. They put the bodies back in the truck and drove off.