Free Trade

The Candidates' Public Disservice on Trade

Major party candidates doing their best to get Americans to oppose free trade, despite its role in increasing prosperity.

|

Almost three-fifths of Americans recognize that international trade offers the country an opportunity to expand the economy; only 34 percent see it as a threat. Unfortunately, the leading presidential contenders are doing their best to change that.

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been spouting a stream of nonsense remarkable even by campaign-season standards. Sanders, for instance, blames the decline of Detroit and Flint, Mich., on "Hillary Clinton's free-trade policies." But as Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune points out, GM shut down its Flint plant six years before NAFTA took effect. Other factors—such as automation—have done most of the damage to auto-industry employment.

Anyway, the decline of U.S. manufacturing is wildly overstated. Manufacturing in the U.S. now produces six times the value in real terms of what it did half a century ago. In fact, as former deputy U.S. trade representative Miriam Sapiro noted recently in The New York Times, "excluding oil, the United States actually has a trade surplus in manufactured goods (you read that right) with the 20 countries with which it has trade agreements (although that does not include China)…The Department of Commerce estimates that every increase of $1 billion in exports sustains nearly 6,000 jobs."

But didn't the U.S. lose millions of jobs in the years after NAFTA? Of course. The U.S. would have lost millions of jobs anyway, because the labor market is in a state of constant churn. In the second quarter of last year, for instance, the economy enjoyed a net job increase of 800,000 positions. But that obscures the broader picture, which shows that while 7.5 million jobs were added, 6.7 million jobs were lost.

Overall, Sapiro notes, in the seven years after NAFTA passed "nearly 17 million jobs were added in this country and unemployment fell to 4.0 percent." Figures like that help explain why 93 percent of the nation's leading economists agree that trade pacts benefit the U.S.—and the other 7 percent just aren't sure.

But isn't the U.S., as Trump says, getting "crushed" by other countries because of the trade deficit? Nope. As a Cato Institute paper some years ago explained, the notion is based on an outdated fallacy: "The mercantilist approach to trade that dominated thinking in the 17th and 18th centuries stressed the need for nations to accumulate gold. By exporting more than they imported, nations could hoard the excess money… generated by the trade surplus… The more metallic money a state possessed, the more able it would be to wage war if necessary."

That might be swell for kings who want to expand empires, but it isn't so great for the public. The goal of economic activity is not production, but consumption: to improve your standard of living. A country that exported everything it produced would have a giant trade surplus, but its people would starve to death. The U.S. trade deficit reflects the fact that Americans are rich enough not only to provide for themselves but also to buy products they want from other countries.

And other states. If workers actually gained when trade between nations is restricted, then they would gain even more if trade between states and cities were restricted. Imagine how much employment in Detroit would rise if the residents could not buy anything made outside of Michigan, or Detroit itself. But nobody measures the trade deficits among U.S. states, because it bears no relation to how well people actually live.

If free trade is bad, then the ideal situation is no trade at all—with each person growing his own food, making his own clothes, and so on. That would lead to full employment. But it would make everyone vastly worse off. Why? Milton Friedman explained why in a single sentence: "The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit."

Granted, if Smith buys widgets from Jones, that's not so good for Jones' competitor Brown. This brings up a moral issue. If Smith and Jones agree to trade with each other, what right does Brown have to stop them?

And what right does a fourth party—say, the federal government—have to step in on Brown's behalf, prohibiting Smith from trading with Jones? None whatsoever.

Questions like that get muddied by discussions about "international trade," because the truth is that nations do not trade with one another. People and companies do.

Yet in a recent interview, Trump griped that "our companies are moving into Mexico more than almost any other place right now. We are losing our industry. We're losing our business to Mexico."

"Our"? Unless Trump owns one of those companies, then it isn't his. It belongs to the proprietor or the stockholders—not to politicians, or to the country as a whole. Which is why companies have every right to exchange goods and services across political boundaries, or even move across them—despite what the candidates say.

This column originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

NEXT: New York Is the Last State to End Ban on MMA Fighting Events

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I have a trade deficit with the grocery store! They never buy anything from me! All they do is sell me food! Something must be done about this terrible injustice!

    1. I’m assuming your employer or customers have a trade deficit with you as well.

      1. That’s their problem. But my deficit with the grocery store is just awful. They’ve never bought anything from me. I hope President Sanders will fix it.

        1. He’d introduce the Venezuelan model. You wouldn’t have any trade deficit with your grocery story.

          1. Social justice! Woo hoo!

            1. Wiping your ass with dollar bills! Woo hoo!

  2. Trump donors being tracked down and asked to explain themselves:

    I’ve talked to almost every single person in Seattle who’s donated money to Donald Trump.

    Don’t be too impressed. There were only six of them.

    I managed to get four on the phone. Two of them said they wished they hadn’t given.

    One is a 70-year-old Belltown woman who wrote Trump a check for $200. Several days later she changed her mind and asked for her money back.

    […]

    A Broadmoor businessman gave Trump’s campaign $1,000 last August. But like the Belltown woman, he is embarrassed now and would only talk if his name wasn’t used, even though it’s in the public record.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/na…..they-gave/

    1. In tomorrow’s paper:

      “I track down every single person in Seattle who’s donated to Hillary Clinton and ask them to explain themselves.”

      1. That could actually work because Seattle is solid Bernie country.

    2. Almost every single person (in a city of 600K+) = 6. < 0.001% of the population. That’s some deep digging right there.

    3. Gallagher, who calls himself a libertarian and a progressive, has also sent donations to Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders ? making him one of just 12 people in the U.S. who have shelled out at least $200 to both Trump and Sanders, according to my analysis.

      You know who else called themselves a libertarian and a progressive?

      1. AIDS denier Terry Michael?

        1. :lights Epi signal:

          1. “You are just a garden variety idiot. It is stunning how disgusting you are, whoever you are, hiding behind your cloak of anonymity.” – Terry Michael

            1. Well maybe I shouldn’t have shared this so many times.

              1. There is a lesson here about not feeding trolls that Terry Michaels could stand to learn.

          2. “You are just a garden variety idiot. It is stunning how disgusting you are, whoever you are, hiding behind your cloak of anonymity.”

            (wipes tear from eye)

    4. His editor should ask to see the notes and interviews for this article. Because it sounds made up.

    5. Public shaming of private citizens for political donations is despicable.

      1. The tolerant and loving left!

      2. True, but then so is giving money to political campaigns.

  3. I said earlier at one of the debates Ted Cruz should have just announced that Donald Trump had offered backstage to give him a blowjob if he’d drop out of the race. Nobody gives a shit about truth or logic or coherence any more, just say whatever you want and move on with no arguments, no apologies, no explanations.

    1. That’s a big mouth to fill.

    2. If there’s one thing the broken trail of losers in this campaigns wake have taught us, it’s that you can’t out-Trump Trump. Other people feel a sense of shame about telling obvious and pointless lies, even if they can suppress that shame. But for Trump there is no distinction between true and false.

      1. Jerry, just remember. It’s not a lie… if you believe it.

    3. Did Donald Trump really offer Ted Cruz a blowjob to drop out of the race?

      Look, I’ve said this before – and let me be very clear, I’m speaking honestly and openly here – that many people have, and I mean a lot of people, have said to me – and it really shouldn’t surprise you to learn this but the media have been strangely silent on the issue because we all know how the media are, right? – but it’s like I’ve said many, many times before, and I think even Donald Trump would agree with me here, because even though we have our differences there are some things we can agree we have the same similarities with each other on together, that this has always been the case, so if you want to know the answer to your question then I think you really have to examine the premise of that question, because it’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to anyone else who might perhaps be asked that question, by you or by anyone else who might be asking it, as to why if this question were being asked then why hasn’t anybody else said that the question was being asked and I think it really is not fair of you but, frankly, I wouldn’t expect you to understand that.

        1. Needs more “loser” worked in, though.

  4. “Almost three-fifths…”

    Way to start the article with a trigger you racist sonuvabitch.

  5. I read economics in one lesson yesterday. I enjoyed it. Any of you economics wonks have an opinion about the book or would recommend another?

    1. I’ve got that one on my shelf. It is really good. Don’t have any book suggestions, but if you’ve never visited Don’s blog you should.

    2. Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics.

    3. Eat the Rich by P. J. O’Rourke

  6. “If free trade is bad, then the ideal situation is no trade at all.”

    Nah. If you presented that line to a Sanders or Trump supporter, they’d say “no, keep on trading. I’m in favor of fair trade!”

    Fair trade, as best I understand it, means trade, plus whatever statist restrictions you can slap on to selectively dick over anyone who’s not union (for Sanders) or blue-collar high school dropout (Trump).

    1. “Fair trade” is the excuse they use for wanting the United States government to put it’s thumb on the scale to favor themselves or somebody else that they would prefer being favored rather than the United States government staying out of it altogether.

      Apparently if any other country has some sort of policy that favors certain domestic industries that people in this country do business with, then the United States government must intervene because it’s not “fair” that citizen A can buy that product from somebody in the other country cheaper that citizen B can produce it here. They cannot explain why citizen A “owes” to citizen B to buy from him to begin with or why it’s any business of the federal government to interfere with him acting in his own best interest by buying from whoever he wants where ever he wants.

  7. Someone please explain it to me, how can a group that is on agreggate constantly hemorraging cash continue to do so indefinately and call it “good”?

  8. I’m sad to say that the lovers of mercantilism are alive and well.

    There have been a number of articles over at National Review Online supporting free trade and denouncing Trump’s position and the Trump true believers come crawling out of the woodwork in the comments section of every one of them to denounce it.

    1. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be in a comments section infested with Trumpers.

      1. I’m just glad we’ve got a place with so many actual anti-statists and anti-slavers to frequent, Hugh. Imagine if it were otherwise.

      2. That’s because you don’t have to imagine; you have first-hand empirical observation.

      3. National Review Online is about even.
        If you want to see rabid Trump chumps, got to Breitbart.
        You’ll get unreasonable Trump love coupled with ridiculously untrue Cruz accusations, especially about his “globalist” wife, who you are expected to believe will control his every action.

  9. There’s no thing as an “American job”, only a “job in America”. Likewise, there’s no thing as an “American company” either. I wonder what trade restrictionists hate more: an international company with manufacturing in America, or an American company with manufacturing internationally. The former is taking “our profits”, while the latter is taking “our jobs”.

    Nationalists are just socialists with a looser grip. Instead of getting people jobs, the government forces companies through policies and regulation to get them jobs. It lets emasculated men feel like they aren’t taking a government handout. I’m convinced a good part of Trump’s support comes from emasculated men, as in Michael Brendan Dougherty’s spot-on characterization of them as “capitalism’s losers”. Look how quickly they integrated the word “cuckold” into their go-to insult, “cuckservative”. The kind of person who considers getting cheated upon as an insult it the kind of person who feels cheated upon.

    1. The Toyota Camry is the #1 car manufactured in the United States, yet we’re supposed to worry about GM failing, for some reason.

      1. I don’t care about Government Motors failing, and I’m not going to buy a Toyota. You’re ‘supposed to care’ just because the UAW doesn’t want to lose it’s emaciated host.

        As far as I can tell my car was made in mexico.

        1. Both of our cars rolled off a boat from Japan. Not one single dime was spent making them in America, although they probably have some American parts.

          This . . . makes me happy. Just as I won’t spend money that will enrich the Castros, I won’t spend money that enriches the UAW and the American crony capitalists.

          And yes, I know Toyota is a Japanese crony capitalist firm. That’s their problem. The American cronies and parasites are mine.

          1. My (used) Korean motor carriage, the rattle-prone plastic interior notwithstanding, is quite serviceable. There was no moral consideration about it though. It was just the best vehicle in my price range. And that’s really the nut of the issue right there.

            1. It was just the best vehicle in my price range. And that’s really the nut of the issue right there.

              But, but, but… MERCA!

        2. My Outback has a sticker on one of the windows that says “Team crafted in Indiana.”

      2. In 2008, the good, honest, salt of the earth yeomen of the auto industry got a bailout of 33 billion because ‘America’. Yet, we have to put up with daily screeds on here about how these good, honest, salt of the earth manual tradesmen are the most demonized and marginalized group in the country.

        1. Look, HM, you have to pay them off and tell them they’re pretty.

          1. Sometimes, nikki, I hate the player and the game.

        2. Remember the day when MNG argued that there was no difference between an unsecured loan and secured loan?

          Pepperidge Farm remembers…

          1. Ah man, J sub D

            :’-(

        3. Like I said yesterday, learning a new (and marketable) skill is only for women and fagz with liberal arts degrees.

          1. “Leave room for cream?”

        4. Reminds me of the TV ad the character played by Dan Akroyd had in the move Tommy Boy: “Made in America by Americans for Americans”.

          That was fiction, too.

    2. I wonder what trade restrictionists hate more: an international company with manufacturing in America, or an American company with manufacturing internationally. The former is taking “our profits”, while the latter is taking “our jobs”.

      And of course, the latter group is also failing to repatriate “our profits.”

    3. There’s no thing as an “American job”, only a “job in America”. Likewise, there’s no thing as an “American company” either. I wonder what trade restrictionists hate more: an international company with manufacturing in America, or an American company with manufacturing internationally. The former is taking “our profits”, while the latter is taking “our jobs”.

      That was…brilliant…

      I’m saving this.

    4. I’m convinced a good part of Trump’s support comes from emasculated men, as in Michael Brendan Dougherty’s spot-on characterization of them as “capitalism’s losers”. Look how quickly they integrated the word “cuckold” into their go-to insult, “cuckservative”. The kind of person who considers getting cheated upon as an insult it the kind of person who feels cheated upon.

      It is interesting to draw the parallels between their economic thought and their social thought. Remember, a large portion of these men believe that women of the same ethnicity as them collectively belong to them, and that women who date or marry outside of their ethnicity are performing “racial cuckoldry“. The reason these spiritual eunuchs are enraged that a woman they’ve never met deigned not to be with someone who looks vaguely like them is because the fallacious view the marketplace of social relationships as a zero-sum game. In their minds, each exogamous relationship lowers the probability of them finding a mate (Because it’s not the autism, morbid obesity, body odor of stale Mountain Dew, and fedora wearing that lowers the probability), as such, they feel “cheated” and wish to rig the market in their favor.

      1. Similarly, in their fallacious zero-sum world view, any and all jobs within what they view as “their nation” are viewed to collectively belong to them. As such, when a company based in America chooses to outsource its labor or to close up shop and relocate completely, even if it is in an industry they have no skill to work in or are interested in working in, these eunuchs feel cheated by “economic cuckoldry”.

        It is a cringing, pathetic, and overall lurid phenomenon. Yet, this is what America has wrought.

        1. Entitlement is a helluva drug.

      2. the autism, morbid obesity, body odor of stale Mountain Dew, and fedora wearing

        *frantic applause*

        “Hey, this Axe Body Spray will cover that right up!”

  10. Free trade is an unqualified good for moral reasons alone even if it provided no utilitarian advantage (which it also does). But that having been said, it can lead to economic realignment that disrupts the expectations and lifestyles of certain people, and that’s obviously not going to make them very happy. NAFTA probably led to net job creation in the states, but for the people who lost jobs, many will never recover their prior standard of living – particularly auto workers. This can be chalked up to “shit happens”, of course. Buggy whip makers lost their livelihood as well. Even if NAFTA never passed, those jobs were going elsewhere anyway. But it’s unsurprising that those people weren’t pleased and that the aggregate job creation and GDP numbers didn’t soothe them much. They’ve been looking for a politician to tell them what they want to hear about the evils of free trade since Perot.

    1. And this is the problem with Libertarian thought. It deals too much with “Unseen Costs” and it is difficult to show these people what was unseen while they are paying a real cost right now.

      1. The inability of many people to imagine the unseen is a problem of small minds, not libertarian thought.

        1. Agreed, but it is also a problem with getting people to adopt libertarian thought.

          1. Libertarian thought is hard. Sadly, most people would rather emote.

            1. My feelz feelz bad.

        2. Exactly. There are a bunch of guys on the shop floor who rail against NAFTA, China, and are pro-Trump.
          Yet 30% of the company’s revenue comes from exports of our finished product at prices that are only made possible by low raw material prices from China and Canada. What do they think will happen to 1/3 of there jobs if our export sales dry up?

    2. Problem is the jobs and industry left overnight. Much of my family once paid their bills from Pecan farming, NAFTA destroyed that income in a matter of months. Where my family was required to submit to all sorts of Gov’t Regs, Mexican farmers were Free move into our markets without the same.

      Yes shit happens, but when you hold your Domestic industries to higher standards, many of which if not most are arbitrary, and hold our Foreign competitors to little or none, you create a huge disparity between what it costs to create locally vs foreign.

      It is not MORAL to create such a big disadvantage.

      1. What you describe is a problem created by government regulation, not free trade.

        Yeah it sucks for your family, but what about the millions of Americans who benefited from cheaper pecans? Would they be better off if pecans were more expensive? Tariffs do not punish foreign producers. They only punish domestic consumers.

        1. Yes, but what many are seeing is that overseas commerce involving our businesses, saddled with overburdening regulation, in competition with foreign ones, who have no such constraints, are looked on as “free trade”.
          IOW, our regulatory state isn’t factored in as part of the trade equation, putting our businesses at a disadvantage, before the trading begins.
          To the statists, these regulations are so necessary and required that they are the normal way things are and shouldn’t play a role, but the bottom line is, they do.
          Trump is tapping in to those who are at that bottom line, and feel that “free trade” agreements are nothing of the sort.

      2. You are correct. The government is not moral. It is also not moral to force other US citizens to pay more for your product so that you can meet stupid government regulations.

      3. I agree, buying pecans at a highly inflated and government subsidized price is totally immoral. I’m glad that I can now buy cheap pecans from Mexico, while also helping lift the much poorer Mexican pecan farmer out of poverty. NAFTA and free trade FTW.

  11. One huge factor in Detroit’s decline was the UAW, of course. Clinton and Sanders (and maybe not even Trump) will admit that.

      1. Detroit is a story of people enshrining themselves legal privilege and then finding out (but rarely admitting) that the laws of men cannot change reality. Over and over again, with different groups of people each time.

        1. the laws of men cannot change reality

          All we need to do to fix the obesity problem in this country is to have Congress repeal the law of gravity!

          1. No, no, gravity is fine, it’s convervation of energy and mass that needs to go.

            1. Easiest answer, change the BMI scale.

              5’8″ 250 lbs is merely ‘husky’.

      2. True, the riot (really only one, in 1967) hurt. Then later, Detroit had a very afro-centric black Democrat governance under Coleman Young, with predictable economic and social results.

    1. Yeah, the Japanese manufacturers were opening plants in the South even as the big three were closing them in Michigan.

      Fuck the UAW. They revealed themselves as evil when they turned to the President and TARP to seize control of GM using working class Americans’ future paychecks–just so they could protect the UAW’s outrageously bloated compensation and benefits from any reasonable bankruptcy judge.

      1. outrageously bloated

        You mean like the Camaro?

        *ducks*

  12. Parallel moments are called dreams, man.

    1. I always thought they were called concurrancy.

  13. Here’s the problem with so-called ‘Free Trade’. The costs of doing business in China, Mexico, and a host of other countries that we trade with is far below the costs that the US imposes on local manufacturers and service providers. The US imposes countless Taxes, Fees, Licenses, Regulation Costs (OSHA, EPA, etc), and Fines on our Local Businesses that their Foreign competitors are not exposed to.

    Adam Smith was exclusively against Tariffs except in 2 cases. The 1st was for the Defense Industry. He advised a Tariff for Defense goods and services that would make it too expensive to rely on Foreigners for our Defense. No need to outlaw buying goods and services tied to defense, but in order to maintain sovereignty it is necessary to rely on Domestic sources. The other was a Tariff to place on foreign goods and services to ‘match’ internal taxes etc that our gov’t places on Domestic Industries in order to level the playing field.

    What is mind boggling to me is that so many ‘libertarians’ are vehemently against Tariffs, but they are willing to put up with High Domestic Taxes, Fees, Fines, Regulatory Costs, etc so long as our Foreign competitors’ prices are not affected by the same rules. What they are saying that the Consumer is far more important than the Producer. I disagree, we need to have healthy and happy Consumers and Producers in the US, not just Consumers.

    1. “The other was a Tariff to place on foreign goods and services to ‘match’ internal taxes etc that our gov’t places on Domestic Industries in order to level the playing field.”

      This is a ridiculously bad argument. So we should implement tariffs to drive up the cost of foreign goods to the same cost that we’ve driven up domestic goods through dumbass regulatory schemes? Why not just cut taxes and make less ridiculous regulations so there isn’t such a large, artificial gap between domestic and foreign costs?

      “What is mind boggling to me is that so many ‘libertarians’ are vehemently against Tariffs, but they are willing to put up with High Domestic Taxes, Fees, Fines, Regulatory Costs, etc so long as our Foreign competitors’ prices are not affected by the same rules. ”

      Where are these libertarians who believe this and can you name some of them?

      1. Where are these libertarians who believe this and can you name some of them?

        I was thinking the same thing.

      2. You are one of them!

        Very easy for you to talk how ridiculous or moronic it is to place the same constraints on Foreigners so long as your job, business, or consumption is not impeded, right?

        Why not reduce Domestic Taxes? You tell me. How?

        1. “Why not reduce Domestic Taxes? You tell me. How?”

          I would love to reduce domestic taxes, you fucking idiot. Which means that I am not ‘one of’ the mythical libertarians who don’t want lower domestic taxes.

          You’re not very smart.

          1. You’re not very smart.

            An understatement.

      3. This is Bastiat’s negative railroad.

    2. so many ‘libertarians’ are vehemently against Tariffs, but they are willing to put up with High Domestic Taxes, Fees, Fines, Regulatory Costs

      Those bastards! I know exactly who they are too! These guys!

      1. I hate Illinois Libertarians!

      2. Your link just got me a discrimination web block logged on my work profile, thanks. My boss is building quite the file on me from Reason links. *reminds self to hover not click

    3. Where does the money come from to pay for these tariffs?

      This is the problem with your proposal. You say you are equalizing the playing field, or some such, but your equalization comes out of other peoples’ pockets.

      There may be a boon to local production, at the expense of standards of living, but there may just as well be a deepening of the ongoing recession. Consumer preferences may shift as a result of changing prices in such a way that favors domestic employment, but savings are already at all-time lows.

      If you can muster the political will to impose tariffs, then why don’t you muster it to oppose the “countless Taxes, Fees, Licenses, Regulation Costs (OSHA, EPA, etc), and Fines on our Local Businesses” imposed by the US and state governments?

      If anything, it is you whose preferences favor things which aren’t libertarian. Libertarians “put up with” taxes, regulations, etc. the same way we “put up with” everything else; we don’t want to go to jail any more than anyone else does and we only have a small share of the vote.

      1. Where does the money come from that pays for Domestic costs that hinder local businesses?

        1. The same place the tariffs are paid from.

          You are saying the US government is unfairly taking X dollars out of my wallet, so the solution is to take 2X out of my wallet.

    4. What is mind boggling to me is that so many ‘libertarians’ are vehemently against Tariffs, but they are willing to put up with High Domestic Taxes, Fees, Fines, Regulatory Costs, etc so long as our Foreign competitors’ prices are not affected by the same rules.

      You must not know any libertarians.

      1. I know plenty, I used to be one and co-founded the Libertarian Party Affiliate in my county. Libertarians, at least locally, would much rather argue over the 2% where we disagreed on than pull together on the 98% where we agreed.

        Most are know it all assholes, from my experience.

        1. Most are know it all assholes, from my experience.

          While the LP can be a hive of scum and villainy, most politically active people are “know-it-all assholes”. The difference between the LP and the GOP or the Democrats is that the latter will shut up and do as the party tells them when it comes time to vote. For the most part, anyway.

          Of course, both Sanders and Trump are negative reactions to that mentality. Whether anything ultimately comes of it remains to be seen.

  14. Mr. Hinkle, that article warmed my ice-cold libertarian heart and brought a tear to my monocle covered eye.

  15. I smell a Tulpa.

    1. Either that or someone shit their pants.

      1. The way he references libertarians does smell a little Tulpa-ish. A pecan farmer would be a new sock for him, since his Illocust sock was thoroughly outed yesterday.

        1. “his Illocust sock was thoroughly outed yesterday”

          In what thread?

      2. My money is on a Trumpkin.

      3. You realize that those two aren’t mutually exclusive, right?

    2. No, he’s a self-proclaimed innovationist – Steve A. Morris

  16. This comment will be rambling, but I have a point.

    Many (but not all) of the comments in this thread remind me of a conversation I had with the Dean of Undergraduates regarding my inability to travel to find an internship (the school mandated paid interships to graduate). I’ve always been a poor debater and often have trouble properly verbalizing my points at the time of debate. I poorly phrased the problem as “not being able to afford” to go on The only thing he could say in a confused tone was “but they pay you.” The real problem was the up-front costs associated with moving to and establishing residence in a location. This was difficult for someone with zero liquid assets. (When I got a full-time job I had to take out a short-term loan for the relocation).

    Whenever disappearing jobs come up, there is a chorus of “well they should just retain and move.” It requires a special level of desperation for most people to rip up twenty years of roots and head off to points unknown with no guarantees of work. We’re talking dust bowl levels of desperation, really. Yet all I see is condescention towards the anger the problem generates. Eventually they do find some means of making ends meet (though too often these days that’s at taxpayer expense), yet the resentment at their poor fortune will remain. The reaction towards this resentment always strikes me as just as clueless as that dean when I tried to explain why I couldn’t realistically look outside of a given area.

    1. But how do you change it? Force the employers to stay in the area? Nationalize them if they don’t comply? Force a different company to move to the area and adapt to the local workforce?

      As for the anger… I can understand it but if they think the solution for their historical predicament is electing Trump or Sanders, maybe they lost their job because they were idiots.

      1. The ‘fix’ is to tie any trade agreement to a purge of domestic regulations. (Preferrably by fire)

        1. Putting a few politicians onto pikes out on the National Mall might be OK, too.

      2. the best way of changing it? Stop subsidizing the financial sector while pretending that that is a ‘free market’. The financial sector produces money – and that production in a fiat system is completely immune to any laws of economics/scarcity. All of the subsidies that are in place for credit/money – from a Federal Reserve that manipulates its price in order to keep bank balance sheets alive (here and increasingly towards other central banks too) – to direct bailouts of those balance sheets so that they can reload and lend (ie create) more money – to the propping up of all asset prices so that we can avoid a nasty deflationary reset and reallocation of capital – to ‘trade’ agreements that are designed to do nothing but protect a dollar-denominated investment moving from one third country to a different fourth country – to military intervention in the Middle East that is designed to keep oil denominated/traded in dollars. ALL of it does nothing but protect the financial sector.

        That tilting/protectionism is why the US economy is now almost completely driven by the FIRE sector and why the producing sector is dying. There is nothing ‘natural’ about this. There is nothing ‘free market’ about this. It is not some Whiggish history notion of post-industrial progress towards a service economy based on selling houses to each other while consuming cheap Chinese crap. It is protectionism of the ‘dollar as reserve currency’.

    2. So, what’s your point? An employer should be held hostage because some of employees live hand to mouth? Or are you just pontificating about our tone towards these good, honest, salt of the earth yeomen?

      1. All about the feelz, man. Words and stuff.

      2. I’m rambling about tone.

        1. Well, here’s the thing, if their situation is not desperate enough to pack everything up and move, the origin story for hundreds of millions of American families, btw, then their populist ‘anger’ is merely strident and hyperbolic.

          1. There are degrees of destitution between “Hyperbolic bitching” and “I’ll risk my life to get over there because staying here is worse than the trip”

          2. Lecturing people about the insufficiency of their desperation from the security of a tenured academic position is one of those things that really is a bit tone deaf, even if true.

            “Pack up and move” isn’t exactly a panacea anyway if you’re a poorly educated factory drone trained for one job. The former $85/hr union door panel bolt installer at Great American Autoworks can visit every corner of America and he simply isn’t going to find the same work at any price. Education/retraining would help a lot more than relocating. But as I said above, it’s still going to be a blow to their lifestyle. Best case scenario you, what, get certified as a dental assistant? Tax preparer? Cable installer? $10-$15/hr and Medicaid is a long way from union extortion wages and health benefits.

            Again, as I said earlier, it doesn’t mean policy should change to accommodate their lifestyle, but it’s not exactly unexpected that they don’t want to hear “The economy changed and you’re fucked: suck it up and become a migrant farm laborer like your forebears”.

            1. All I want to know is, against whom is it acceptable to be “tone deaf”?

              Because it seems like whether being “tone deaf” matters is entirely dependent upon whether or not the target of the “tone deafness” is politically favored or not by the accuser.

              What is the material difference between “suck it up ex-union worker, retrain/move, and find a new job” and “suck it up welfare queen, train/move, and find a job”?

              1. What is the material difference between “suck it up ex-union worker, retrain/move, and find a new job” and “suck it up welfare queen, train/move, and find a job”?

                There isn’t one. The latter is a bit tone deaf as well. To say that most libertarians (and conservatives, and liberals for that matter) don’t really understand the practicalities of the welfare system or the people ensnared in it would be an understatement.

                Reagan may have not lived up to his rhetoric (or may have been the literal incarnation of satan, depending on your perspective), but he deserves credit for being able to present free market concepts in a hopeful and aspirational way, I think. There’s not really a good way to tell a guy “Welp, you’re fucked, get used to it”.

              2. for some reason – ‘suck it up ex-union worker’ and ‘suck it up welfare queen’ are far more acceptable than ‘suck it up Goldman Sachs’ or ‘suck it up Warren Buffett’

    3. Anger is almost always destructive, not constructive. The most visible expression of anger in this country is the high crime rates of the inner cities. I have no doubt that people who haven’t benefited from the economic developments of the last 10-50+ years are hurt and angry. But that is not a basis for government policy.

      Where is all of this anger when it comes to repealing OSHA? Or NLRA? Or the Clean Air Act? Or the minimum wage? Or any of a host of other by-now-enshrined policies that are hurting employment?

      I have no condescension for people who spent their lives working hard to put food on the table and now have nowhere obvious to turn. But I have no easy answers for them, either. Because, ultimately, there are none. While anyone can promise to deliver them salvation, none of them can deliver, at least not in any way that doesn’t involve harming others.

      1. But I have no easy answers for them, either. Because, ultimately, there are none. While anyone can promise to deliver them salvation, none of them can deliver, at least not in any way that doesn’t involve harming others.

        This. Their jobs aren’t coming back, end of story. It’s understandable why they don’t want to hear that, and probably a little tone deaf to tell them essentially “Haha, shouldn’t have been a dropout loser then!”, but it doesn’t change reality. Unfortunately, there’s not really a good way to sell economic liberalism to them under the circumstances.

        1. I don’t disagree about salesmenship, but it seems to me like you’re articulating exactly why politicians are liars and frauds. If you start with the truth*, then you are going to lose from the outset.

          * = There is a difference between saying “that job isn’t coming back” and “that job isn’t coming back, you filthy slob”; being truthful does not mean being condescending (nobody tell Cytotoxic)

          1. it seems to me like you’re articulating exactly why politicians are liars and frauds.

            Absolutely. Sanders might be a true believer, but Trump has an economics degree from Wharton. Do you seriously think he believes what he says about free trade? Bill Clinton bucked the party line to pass NAFTA. Hillary Clinton was for TPP as little as a couple years ago. Do you seriously think she believes what she says now about free trade? They’re telling these people what they want to hear.

            The problem is, you can’t promise them much from the opposite side. Which feeds into the narrative that heartless capitalists don’t care about them. The sad part is, they’re equally boned either way. As you said, it is not within the power of any politician to save them.

            1. TPP Is NOT a free trade deal by any stretch of the imagination. Don’t lump it in with actual trade deals.

              1. There’s certainly trade components to it, although it is not exclusively trade related.

                However, it’s more an example of Clinton’s pandering than the virtue (or lack thereof) of the agreement itself. She defended NAFTA to the unions during Bill’s re-election campaign. At State, she helped push TPP. She even referred to it as the “gold standard in trade agreements” in her book. Now she gets in front of an audience in Michigan and sounds like Ralph Nader.

  17. [T]he truth is that nations do not trade with one another. People and companies do.

    If only more people understood this very basic idea. But, these are the same people who scoff when you say that corporations are just (groups of) people.

  18. Oh gawdalmyte. People chanting about free trade resemble religious people chanting about virgin birth.

    What we have right now is reserve dollar protectionism – not free trade. Get that thru your head. Everything about the American economy is now geared to protecting producers of dollars – ie the financial sector. A trade deficit is mere bookkeeping. It is completely offset by export of currency. And for the reserve currency country, that export of currency is what drives EVERYTHING. We are up to our eyeballs defending the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf to China because oil is the core fungible product that the reserve currency is used for. Our ‘trade’ agreements don’t have shit to do with trade anymore. They are geared entirely to protecting dollar-denominated investments.

    1. You alreaady said that, we get it.

  19. The American worker is being crushed. Workplace participation for women has declined by more than 3 percentage points since 2000. The percentage of men in their prime working years without a job has nearly tripled since the late 1960s. Median annual household incomes are down more than $4,000 from the beginning of the century. The great American middle class is disappearing. One of the factors driving this economic devastation is America’s disastrous trade policies. Throughout history, at the center of any thriving country has been a thriving manufacturing sector. But under decades of failed leadership, the United States has gone from being the globe’s manufacturing powerhouse ? the envy of the world ? through a rapid deindustrialization that has evaporated entire communities. […]
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/…../81728584/

    1. Needs to RTFA.

  20. Free trade agreements have decimated the base of American manufacturing by off-shoring jobs and factories, fueling the import of cheap foreign-made (and sometimes deadly) products. A free trade agreement is nothing more than trade heavily regulated by unaccountable regional governmental bodies that operate outside of the American judicial system. The global power elites view multilateral free trade agreements as one of their main vehicles for establishing, step by step, socialistic regional governments controlled by themselves as steppingstones toward a socialistic global government under the United Nations. Take action today to tell Congress to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
    http://www.jbs.org/issues-page…..ade-agenda

  21. Here is unReason repeating the lies originally published in the LSM. First, we don’t have free trade because our federal mafia has slanted the trade treaties toward our trading partners at the expense of American citizens. The traitors has sold our industry and our jobs to foreigners so they could line their own pockets. All one has to do is look at the decline of manufacturing jobs in the US over the “free trade” timeline. Millions of jobs shipped overseas, huge unemployment here at home. The numbers don’t lie, but unReason and Barton Hinkle do.

    http://www.unz.com/efingleton/…..s-opening/

  22. Excellent piece. But such logic (and some of the good comments here) are lost on the electorate in this day and age. I’ve never seen such a broad hostility against voluntary trading with “furiners.” Even many nominal libertarians writing here have fallen for the isolationist pitch.

    We free traders have lost. Protectionism wins. For now, at least. And into the near term future. Get used to it.

    It’s going to take some serious disruption in international trade, coupled with much higher prices, for folks to reconsider this Trump-Sanders mantra. For now, liberals and conservatives are united under the banner of economic illiteracy.

    All we can do is to continue to point out the folly of protectionism, and hope that eventually the bad consequences of such policies open people’s minds to what really makes a country prosperous.

    Of course, the risk is that — when high tariffs and trade restrictions disrupt America, our clueless leaders and the press will lead the charge to “double down,” insisting that protectionism will work of only we have MORE of it, with greater control of the economy delegated to D.C. I’m not optimistic.

  23. The article includes a point I make frequently: If protectionism and tariffs make a country more prosperous, should not we institute protectionism WITHIN America — restricting trade between states, and even cities? That way we’ll keep our production truly local, and we’ll all be better off, right?

    Somehow I can’t get anyone to defend that idea, or to explain why protectionism will work internationally but not domestically. Indeed, the idea IS indefensible. And that’s why tariffs between states is explicitly prohibited by our Constitution.

  24. We can’t grow our own food! Damn!! That would be a violation of the commerce clause according to the unpacked Supreme Court during FDR’s reign and harassment of some poor ass wheat farmer.

  25. “Buy local,” is, of course, a Communist plot to keep industry from taking over the economy and maintaining the position of the worker man/women/ child. Hooray for the Manifesto. Let’s have free trade!

  26. Tell ya what. You show me two things and I’ll agree with this article. Show me a pure consumer amd show me free trade.
    I don’t think anyone can. Therefore the model is just and only that, just like a two dimensional centerfold. You may get off on it but you’re never gonna actually ever get it. But continue your misty dream if it makes you happy.

    1. Sure, free trade is an ideal. So?

      So how much managed trade do YOU want? How high should the tariffs be? Who should decide how much you pay, and from whom you can buy — and to whom you can sell? Do you have a bottomless well of trust that the DC politicians and bureaucracy know what’s best for you, and will DO what’s best for you? REALLY?

  27. my Aunty Avery got a fantastic metallic Audi Q5 just by working online with a computer
    _+_+_+_+_+_+_+ http://www.net-jobs25.com

  28. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.selfcash10.com

  29. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.selfcash10.com

  30. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.selfcash10.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.