Donald Trump

The Neoliberal Era Is Over

Donald Trump's pro-tariff action yesterday underlines a reality long in the making: The post-Cold War neoliberal triumphalism is dead in the West.

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Yesterday brought three bits of trade-related news from President-elect Donald Trump. The first was that he has nominated as the next United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who has long railed against what he calls "the utopian dreams of free traders." The second was, obviously, a tweet:

And third was the announcement from Ford Motor Co. that it is cancelling a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico while launching a $700 million factory in Michigan, which Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. told Trump himself in a phone call.

We've already seen this cycle play out before—five weeks ago, over the span of a few days, the president-elect vowed to enact a 35 percent border tax, slammed an Indiana ball-bearings plant for moving its factory to Mexico, then declared victory after intervening in another manufacturer's siting decision. But coupled with recent political and societal developments in the increasingly morose continent of Europe, this latest bout of Trumpism spray-paints an exclamation point on a 2017 reality many are still slow to acknowledge: The post-Cold War age of ever-increasing trade, immigration, multilateral integration, and technocratic celebrations thereof, is in the rearview mirror. Once-dominant neoliberalism—I'm using the term here as it is deployed these days by its critics, rather than how it was used by its more domestically inclined originators—is on life support in the democratic West. And this deterioration long predates Donald Trump.

Suck. On. This. ||| CNN
CNN

Start with trade. After the destruction of World War II and the post-war European incursions by the Soviet Union, tariff reductions and free-trade zones have been understood in Paris, Bonn, London, and Washington as the best available tool to cement peace and stave off authoritarianism. American presidents from both major political parties—sporadic rhetorical spasms notwithstanding—have without exception assumed their role as the world's lead trade negotiator. Dwight Eisenhower, in the teeth of the Cold War, bucked nearly a century of Republican protectionism. Bill Clinton and Al Gore, after the collapse of communism, shouted down giant sucking sounds from all over the political spectrum. Even Barack Obama, who campaigned more vociferously against trade pacts than any postwar president, predictably reneged on his promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and appointed as his second-term Trade Representative a guy whose resume—Council on Foreign Relations, Citigroup, chief of staff in Robert Rubin's Treasury Department—couldn't be more neoliberal if it was cooked up in a laboratory.

Compare that to the mercantilist economic views of Trump's pick, as expressed in a 2008 New York Times op-ed headlined "Grand Old Protectionists":

Modern free traders […] embrace their ideal with a passion that makes Robespierre seem prudent. They allow no room for practicality, nuance or flexibility. They embrace unbridled free trade, even as it helps China become a superpower. They see only bright lines, even when it means bowing to the whims of anti-American bureaucrats at the World Trade Organization. They oppose any trade limitations, even if we must depend on foreign countries to feed ourselves or equip our military. They see nothing but dogma—no matter how many jobs are lost, how high the trade deficit rises or how low the dollar falls.

While the Trump administration's pivot on trade will feel abrupt, the politics behind it have been percolating for more than a decade. Free-trade Democrats, once a common sight on Capitol Hill, became all but extinct after the party re-took Congress in 2006 on a more economically populist platform. Hillary Clinton twice ran for president by campaigning against her husband's trade deals (even while bragging on his economic successes), yet in both instances found herself yanked sharply to the left by competitors who successfully questioned her sincerity. Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist and longtime independent, received more than 13 million votes in the Democratic presidential primary, in part by claiming—ludicrously!—that international trade is a "global race to the bottom."

Meanwhile, Republicans haven't been as pro-trade as you might think. Two of the GOP's top four presidential finishers in both 2008 and 2012 campaigned against free-trade agreements—Ron Paul over issues of sovereignty and crony capitalism, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum for reasons that would soon be echoed by Trump. The president-elect may be jerking public opinion toward his P.O.V., but even before Inauguration Day, 70 percent of conservatives support "imposing stiff tariffs or other taxes on U.S. companies that relocate jobs." Free trade right now just ain't popular.

The same is true in Europe, as pro-trade Euroskeptics such as Daniel Hannan are coming to find out in a post-Brexit universe. While Brits have surely reclaimed sovereignty by swapping Eurocrats for homegrown busybodies, it may take as long as a decade to negotiate a new trade deal just with the European Union, let alone stitch together scores of other new bilateral pacts. And there's no indication that voters who rejected Brussels will turn around and support reductions in tariffs with other foreign capitals. As Johan Norberg pointed out in these pages back in July, the pro-Brexit leadership sounded some downright Trumpian notes about state intervention into markets:

The future. ||| ITV.com
ITV.com

[L]eading free-market Tories Boris Johnson and Michael Gove drove around in a campaign bus emblazoned with the message that government health care will get another £350 million a week outside of the E.U. The Leave campaign also promised more tax money to universities, scientists, and distressed regions.

When a steel plant in Wales foundered, Boris Johnson abandoned all free-market pretense and explained that the problem is that the E.U. stops the British government from introducing tariffs: "When we want to change tack on tariffs, we can't—because we have given up control." Gove complained that the E.U. has "rules that prevent us providing that emergency support and assistance" and that after Brexit "we would be able to support industries that were going through difficult times."

Railing against the sovereignty-busting whims of overseas elites isn't just effective politics, it's also often right. The E.U. project has been liberating when it comes to free trade, privatization, and the movement of humans within its borders, but planners weren't content to stop there. They insisted on eradicating monetary sovereignty as well, implausibly lashing together the central banks of Germany and Greece, a system that leaves all participants perpetually (and rightfully) disgruntled. And the downside to pooling and outsourcing immigration policy has been all too clear these past few years, as locals have found some of their cities swollen with hard-to-assimilate migrants and refugees from war-torn Muslim regions of the Middle East and North Africa, without feeling like they had any say in the matter. Throw in what has become almost monthly acts of deadly Islamic terrorism on the continent, and the nationalist political reactions write themselves.

Buh-bye! ||| Press Association
Press Association

There is zero juice left in the West for Bill Clinton or Tony Blair-style Third Way politics, nor much for the managerial conservatism of Jacques Chirac and George W. Bush. And yes, the military interventionism that each in their way championed contributed to the discrediting of their ideological brands. As former New Republic owner and editor Marty Peretz reminisced in the Wall Street Journal a few years back, "We were for the Contras in Nicaragua; wary of affirmative action….For military intervention in Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur; alarmed about the decline of the family. The New Republic was also an early proponent of gay rights. We were neoliberals."

In the post-neoliberal era, parties of the left are going hard democrat-socialist (think Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn), while parties of the right increasingly adopt the welfare-state nationalism of Donald Trump, Viktor Orban, and France's ever-advancing Le Pen family. The areas around the center are as dead as the political careers of, well, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. Voters everywhere are drifting toward candidates and parties whose incorrectness (as perceived by elites) in manner, policy ideas, and rhetoric offer hope that they, at long last, won't be like all the others. I was struck during a Christmas visit to France at how genuinely intrigued people I spoke to were about Donald Trump, often in a hopeful way. I almost never heard such generous assessments of the likes of George W. Bush.

The potential magnitude of this Transatlantic political realignment is one of the reasons Team Trump has such a spring in its step. For those who are more anxious about the rise in mercantilism and decline of multilateralism, it will do no real good to merely point at the highlight reel of the recent past. That place was more flawed and corrupted than its managers were willing to admit, and in any event is no longer the reality we live in.

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  1. I almost feel bad for people who invest their hopes in DC politicians somehow rolling back the odometer on globalization and automation.

    1. What is even more hilarious is how professed conservatives become apologists for a guy who saying, verbatim, what a lot of other socialist, statists, union protecting dipshits spout. Those dipshits sound just as idiotic.

      Protectionism is actually the only way to fly in America.

      1. Making Americans pay more again!

        1. Making americans think politicians are capable of fixing markets again!

          1. Politicians are certainly capable of fixing markets, if by “fixing” you mean “rigging” rather than “repairing.”

            1. I hope this doesn’t turn into another debate about what “rigging” means…

              1. It has to do with Russian youth who are into American gangsta rap. Do try to keep up.

                1. Damn! Here I was thinking it meant specializing in vehicle and robot control.

                  1. It’s not about yachting? Egads!…

        2. As if Chevy was gonna sell a lot of Cruzes anyhow…

          1. Those cars are bad ass. Four cylinder power and grace.

            1. One more than the Sprint

          2. They’ll probably change the name to Lyin Ted Cruze

          3. They sell a lot of the sedans here. Just not hatchbacks. Americans don’t buy hatchbacks at near the the rate of Europe and other markets.

            1. That’s cause they quit making the Gremlin

            2. Tell that to owners of Prii and Prius-V’s… 😀

        3. Hey! We’re The Wealthiest Nation On Earth?!

    2. Automation would be hard to be rolled back (not that it should be) since it affords so much convenience to people and is so diffuse, but globalization will be rather easy to roll back, as it rests in large parts on multinational trade and treaties, which have long been the purview of government. Treaties are entirely a creation of government, and therefor exist at their whim, and most international trade already passes through government controlled points of entry (there will always be smuggling, and while it would increase with tariffs it will never provide as great a service in volume as a free market in trade), so don’t be too confident on globalization being immune from the government.

    3. rolling back the odometer on globalization

      Globalization under neo-“liberals” wasn’t liberal at all; it was a set of trade deals that amounted to policy laundering, protectionism, and rent seeking.

      Actual free trade can be accomplished by unilaterally dropping import duties. Neither candidate was going to do that, but at least Trump isn’t falsely labeling his crappy trade policy as “free”.

  2. All of this economic and debt talk is so boring. What’s more important is that its getting hot outside. For that, we must shut down the economy completely

    1. What’s more important is that its getting hot outside. For that, we must shut down the economy completely

      Still too boring! What we really need to focus on is if that you’re using the wrong bathroom and whether or not we should force conservative pizzerias to cater to you while you’re in there.

      1. Actually the burning topic of the day for citizens of the world is whether or not Mariah Kerry was sabotaged. And that Alan Thick died.

        1. And that Alan Thick died.

          Which is astounding relative to Carrie Fisher, IMO.

    2. My ass. Seven degrees in Denver today.

  3. It was never alive anywhere but the US. Strong arming companies into producing products domestically is what governments do and always have done. We can debate whether that is a good or a bad thing but there is no point in pretending there was ever a moment where most or any of the world’s governments outside the US ever refrained from doing so in some neoliberal moment.

    1. Well it happened all through the 70s, 80, and 90s when corporations began outsourcing labor and operations to get costs down because of the American labor force’s incessant demand for higher wages and benefits in the face of declining profit margins. The result was massive mergers, automation, and the destruction of the rust belt.
      Of course that is viewed as terrible when in fact is was simply progress.

      Progress that benefited the world over through cheaper, more competitive, and better products which contributed to a much higher standard of living the world over.

      1. Wages stagnated in the 1970s. Companies moved abroad because the US government made it profitable to do so because of regulations and tax policies. It might make people feel good to think the American worker got what was coming to him but it is not the truth.

        1. It’s obviously a combination of both. Of course the US could make it easier for companies to stay in the country and produce products by slashing taxes and regulations but at the same time there is no way in Hell anyone is going to be buying an electronic consumer good like an iPhone or a laptop that was made in America and the idea of slapping tariffs on them is economically retarded.

          So yes, I really hope Trump and the Republicans encourage businesses to stay by getting the government off their backs but at the same time it’s clear there is also this deranged economic jingoism that hates the fact that American companies and consumers are benefitting from certain products being made in China.

        2. It might make people feel good to think the American worker got what was coming to him but it is not the truth.

          There has never been “the American worker”. There has been, at the very least, the American union worker and the American non-union worker and even those distinctions hide many important differences (large-scale union vs. small-scale union, large corp. employee vs. small business employee, etc.). Saying the Teamsters or the UAW have gotten what they deserved seems entirely fair to me.

        3. Regulation and taxes played a part, but are you seriously denying that labor cost differentials between the US and, say, India were the primary driver?

        4. The northeastern unions got exactly what was coming to them.

          And there are a host of reasons why outsourcing became popular and necessary, of which are tax policies, higher domestic wages and benefits, cheaper land costs, expanded hub and spoke networks, growing markets, etc… i.e. smart business decisions. Why should politicians have any influence over a company’s decision to make money where ver they want? So why defend trump for sounding exactly like Bernie sanders? Or karl marx for that matter?

          Wage stagnation has nothing to do with the fact that unions always demand more. A few examples of the wage argument and companies dramatically shifting business practices:
          Yellow Roadway Corp., GM, Dodge, Ford, US Steel, Stevedores, Hostess/Twinkie, among many others.

          Not to mention all of the companies that moved to right-to-work states to get out from under the yoke.

          1. Wage stagnation

            is almost entirely a product of inflationary monetary policy. People whine about “wages stagnating” but never bother to explain how a company is supposed to manufacture new money out of thin air just because the Federal Reserve has decided to inflate the money supply. Yes, a dollar is worth less than it was ten years ago; that doesn’t mean employers found magic money trees from which they can pay higher wages.

          2. Why should politicians have any influence over a company’s decision to make money where ver they want?

            *** scratches head ***

            Because the electorate enables it?

          3. So why defend trump for sounding exactly like Bernie sanders? Or karl marx for that matter?

            Wait, I know this one. It’s, “Because he pisses off all the right people.” Right?

            1. You’re forgetting that Hillary Clinton sounded even more like Bernie Sanders.

    2. It’s like GATT and the WTO and scads of freer trade agreements never existed in your world.

      Also amazing how you respond to any criticism of your new mancrush’s anti-liberty behavior and policies by trashing what little progress toward liberty has been made over the last century. Just like you responded to criticism of his corrupt eminent domain abuse by claiming the US is rife with corruption and that’s just the way it is.

    3. I think that’s pretty accurate John, although for a time Germany and maybe Japan shared our attitude. But one could argue they were coerced into sharing it. Once the EU became a thing, its unstated purpose was protectionism more than anything else. Just enact asinine regulations and companies are restricted in what they can do where – and we should stop pretending that most US states don’t do the exact same thing.

      The main thing to lament is the free movement of people. But it was bound to happen simply because free movement of people is the antithesis of a welfare state. People had the choice between capitalistic freedom and welfare socialism and we’ve known for decades (if not centuries).what the booboisie would choose.

      A society in debt is a society that is not free.

      1. The EU has been decidedly less protectionist and more neoliberal for much of its life than have many of its constituent states.

        1. The EU allows moderately free trade internally, but largely protected by intangible trade barriers of culture and language.

          Externally, the EU is fiercely protectionist, as you can see from the current Brexit negotiations.

  4. All this commie protectionist baloney means that a Trump Administration will have a little something for everyone. Making America great again means, among other things, that we can never price ourselves out of the job market.

  5. Obama wouldn’t let Boeing build a plant in a Right to Work State, let alone out of the country. Have things really changed that much?

    1. Seriously!
      He sounds like all of the rest of them so far.

      What is far more dangerous is having congress and the executive branch all under one party.

      History has proven one thing in this scenario with immutable clarity.

      Control of Washington by one party only means the growth of the federal government.

      1. As opposed to control of Washington by two parties, which only means… wait.

      2. Control of Washington by either or both parties means the growth of the federal government. The republicans and democrats are two different wings of the beltway party.

  6. While I’m a proponent of free trade, the problem is when we freely trade with countries that don’t have the same economic regulations in place (environmental, safety, etc), or that don’t enforce business rights, especially IP, we’re not trading on equal footing. On some level I would prefer only having free trade with countries that agree to enforce certain regulation. Unfortunately things are never that easy. Having universal regulations is one of the things that made free trade in the EU feasible, but over regulation appears to be the thing that will lead to it’s dissolution.

    1. So you’re not a proponent of free trade then.

      1. They’re right up there with the “I’m all for freedom of speech, but…” crowd.

        1. A lot of people confuse “free” with “fair”.

          1. You’re never truly free as long the other guy gets a better deal than you.

          2. *rummages through bin of ‘Fair Trade” coffee*

            Huh…?

            1. +$9 for a $4 bag of beans

      2. Not to mention that nothing says, “I believe in libertarianism.” like the idea of, “Technically, I [should] own your ideas [because I filed first].”

        Especially when applied overseas and through any/all language cultural barriers.

      3. Depends on how strictly you define free trade. Technically if you’re against trading with countries that we are currently at war with you don’t support free trade, and most people would agree with that limitation. Requiring basic agreements with countries that we trade with, like that they enforce our IP laws or don’t allow for defacto slavery, is not a significant deviation from the principle of free trade.

        1. enforce our IP laws

          What if our IP laws are part of the problem for our own economy? Imposing them on foreign countries doesn’t advantage anyone except a handful of IP powerhouses.

          don’t allow for defacto slavery

          What is “de facto” slavery, exactly?

          1. I personally view IP on the same level as land ownership rights. If you develop a system you should have the right to profit from developing that system. There are problems that occur with it, and I think there should be limits,

            De facto slavery is a term that has been used to represent a number of systems in which people are technically free but are essentially placed in a system in which they cannot leave. The Chinese Hukou system where you legally cannot migrate out of your province is a good example.

            1. While equating IP to land is less bad than comparing it to movable property, it is still an inapt comparison. Land is rivalrous, ideas not so much. Some protection of IP might be justified on “foster innovation” grounds, but that criterion was sufficiently met by the simple IP protections adopted early in this country’s history, not the “forever and a day” copyright scheme of today, or the “there’s no such thing as obviousness or originality” patent system.

              Encouraging greater freedom in foreign countries is an admirable aim but the lack of freedom abroad doesn’t inherently justify one’s own government restricting its own citizens.

            2. I personally view IP on the same level as land ownership rights. If you develop a system you should have the right to profit from developing that system.

              You’re stealing lots of bases with some false notions and associations here. Owning property (intellectual or physical) isn’t a guarantee of profits and that’s not really consistent with libertarianism and/or anarcho-capitalism. There is no right to profit.

              Once you acknowledge the blatantly obvious fact that n people can have the same idea independently throughout time, the idea of IP everywhere and in any real manner of perpetuity becomes obviously and hilariously farcical.

              Pretty much the only way the government should be involved in IP is in counteracting foreign governments literal and direct facilitation data/information theft and the best way to do that is to rigorously enforce property and/or free speech rights.

              1. There is no right to profit.

                There is no *positive* right to profit.

                1. There is no *positive* right to profit.

                  Distinguishing this seems difficult for a lot of people. I have a right to keep my home, to improve the land, to exclude others from its use, etc. That doesn’t mean I have the right to inflate the assessed and/or salable value of my home through government land and zoning policies.

              2. If IP is not enforced at the most basic level then you would shred significant portions of the economy. The ability for a foreign company to produce a generic knockoff after a pharma company has gone through years of research and spent hundreds of millions of dollars on stage trials is one of the many things that is crippling the industry. If developing a system requires a huge amount of investment, and you don’t have the principle rights to production or use of that system after it has been created no one will bother putting in the investment to begin with.

                1. Even if patents ceased to be, which few are arguing for, there would still be trade secrets. Moreover, the long-term purpose of a patent is to put information in the public sphere, not to protect a producer’s monopoly. That is the short-term compensation offered in exchange for disclosure.

                  1. Then what you’re arguing for is IP by trade secret rather than IP by patent. The problem with trade secrets is that in larger endeavors all it takes is one person in the group to run off with the secret sauce and your investment is lost. In many respects the patent systems make more sense in that it allows a timeframe of exclusive rights followed by unlimited access afterwords as opposed to trade secrets which provide unlimited protection as long as no one betrays you. I understand why that might work if you’re trying to protect the Colonel’s secret blend of spices. In situations like pharma where hundreds, if not thousands of people are involved, many of whom you don’t directly employ (like government regulators), I would prefer a greater level of protection on my billion dollar investment.

                    1. You might prefer it, and it might be justified in the aggregate, but that doesn’t necessarily make it in anyone else’s best interests to give it to you. That having been said, the issue I take with patents is not their existence or duration per se* but the lack of sufficient standards in what can and cannot be patented.

                      * = 20 years might be appropriate for pharma but it’s not necessarily appropriate everywhere else

                    2. I absolutely agree with the your problems with scope and time frame. The case with Apple suing Samsung over the shape of their smartphone is a good example of how ridiculous these things can be. However, just because some patents or what IPs can be enforced is damaging doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect people who have valid claims, especially in cases where there is a significant burden to obtain the initial concept/product.

                    3. However, just because some patents or what IPs can be enforced is damaging doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect people who have valid claims, especially in cases where there is a significant burden to obtain the initial concept/product.

                      There are no valid claims aside from what can/could be covered redundantly by crimes associated with ‘actual property’ such as fraud, invasion of privacy, theft, etc., etc. Even ceding claims exist, they are clearly civil matters not exactly to be decided by criminality and/or blanket regulation.

                      If you discover how to make a microgram of penicillin and I beat you to kilogram scale production who’s done more innovation? Even if somebody straight up ripped off the formula, from a consumer perspective why should I care? If my order is $1000 for a kilo at a given level of purity and not a penny or a microgram less IP one way or the other because someone discovered it first is simply fucking with the market.

                      Moreover, you assume no externalities on any/all original onerous regulation and/or that they cannot compound. That is to say, *FDA clearance* rather than IP is known to be excessively burdensome and cause price gouging entirely without innovation and/or trade. Some even argue that it’s gotten to the point where it affects science and innovation itself, that the precautionary principle and credentialism prevents actual drugs from being produced and used.

                    4. invasion of privacy

                      This is key, IMO.

                      If it can’t be shown that I hacked your computers or otherwise stole your files, formulas, or property, then it’s pretty firmly established (not disproven, w/e) that we came up with the idea(s) independently.

                      Assuming we came up with the idea that the same time, giving you preferential treatment because you went to your attourney and the patent office and I went to the production line and the FDA is, IMO, a distinctly pro-Government, anti-industry, anti-capitalism/free market, bias. Moreover, assuming that because you *must* go to the PTO in your country first I *must* go to the PTO in my country first as well is pretty onerous and can be just as inhumane as well.

                2. Nonsense, Linux, nonsense. The FDA and exhausting biologically active chemicals have far more to do with the decline in new drugs than lack of IP protection abroad.

                  In my industry (electronics), sending your product to China for manufacture is synonymous with that product being cloned and appearing (in violation of any IP) on the Chinese market. And it is still sufficiently profitable to do this that most companies do.

                  This destroys your entire argument, if that wasn’t clear.

        2. Technically if you’re against trading with countries that we are currently at war with you don’t support free trade

          What if you’re against being at war with other countries in the first place?

          1. Not the point. Also are you against fighting wars against a country that invades us? If not I guess you’re not totally against being at war with other countries.

      4. It’s a fair argument, I think, to mentally tie free trade agreements with the equally-recognized rule of law (looking back to natural law or historic norms arguments) ? that’s basically the (neo)classical political economy argument that defines neoliberalism in the actual term, vs. ordoliberalism’s open trade coupled with each nation interpreting legalities by different interests. The major stumbling block in the NAFTA/WTO era has been nations parsing the legal agreements differently (the perfect example being China’s very different take on copyright). There’s a certain peril in confusing terms (like Welch advocates here) since that brings in related issues like globalist technocracy that don’t actual stem from the same roots as neoliberalism properly understood (even if they’ve become the method of choice to try and mitigate distinctions in ordoliberalism).

        1. Thanks for your comment. Your point of rule of law is really what I’m getting at and it’s one of the issues that’s bothered me most. For example I know of a few instances where people with smaller companies have tried to start some manufacturing in China and have literally had their material stolen and then used to produce a “counterfeit” product and China has no interest in dealing with types of issues especially if you’re not significant enough to be worth their time.

      5. I’m in favor of free markets, more or less, so I’m necessarily against free trade.

      6. I put “free trade” right in there with unicorns and elves.

        So no, I am not a proponent of INTERNATIONAL free trade.

        I AM a proponent of free trade between the states.

        Guess that makes me almost like a founding father or something! LOL

      7. There is no such thing as ‘free trade’ when currency itself is both fiat and floating. And for the country whose currency is the reserve currency – ALL trade agreements are financial protectionism (which apparently doesn’t make it into econ textbooks as protectionism)

    2. “Unilateral Free Trade”
      […]
      “The Only International Economic Policy That a Country Needs: “Mind Your Own Business and Set a Good Example.””
      https://mises.org/library/unilateral-free-trade

      If the Chinese gov’t wants to pay half of what my tablet costs, why should I gripe?

      1. Because it’s your duty as an American to financially support other Americans in a lifestyle to which they’ve been accustomed.

      2. This is stupid.

        In a state run economy (like China), much of this surplus money from the trade imbalance is used to purchase raw materials in the USA. So, after they own all the stuff here and maintain a policy of making everything there, what exactly do you expect to live on?

        They are not interested in your high flung trade ideas, and not interested in using YOU for anything other than coolie labor to get the raw materials on the boat. You are now broke, no resources, not welcome to move to other countries (who control their borders). This is not a great strategy.

        1. There is no “trade imbalance”, more or less axiomatically, and so the rest of your fantasy is mathematically impossible.

        2. You should study economics; it might prevent you from positing irrational situations and promoting bad policy as a result.

    3. Having universal regulations is one of the things that made free trade in the EU feasible, but over regulation appears to be the thing that will lead to it’s dissolution.

      How bout we try universal under-regulation?

      1. I’m fine with that. The issue I have is that a regulated market trading with an unregulated market in inherently not free trade to begin with. However I do believe in certain regulations that defend certain rights/principles, like laws against slavery and laws that protect ownership and IP rights.

        1. The issue I have is that a regulated market trading with an unregulated market [is] inherently not free trade to begin with.

          That’s just begging the question. Free means free, not fair.

          1. Who fucking cares? It’s a valid point. When an American company has to pay the costs of safely disposing its waste, while a foreign competitor just dumps it in the nearest river, the higher costs of the American company’s product is a more true indication of the cost of production, and the foreign polluter is being subsidized by corruption and bad business practices.

            1. And that begs the question of the definitions of subsidy and corruption.

              But let’s set that aside for the moment. Who owns the river? Who is entrusted with protecting it? In the U.S., for reasons largely irrational, the answer is, generally, the U.S. Government via the EPA, the Corps of Engineers, etc. Fine. Why does the answer to that question in a foreign country have to be that country’s central/national government?

              Moreover, let us define a perfect regulation as one which shifts the cost of an externality entirely from unrelated third parties to the producer of that externality. Such a thing does not truly exist but let us accept it for the sake of argument. It is entirely possible and indeed plausible that a perfect regulation, in the context of the greater economic environment, results in lower employment. So somebody is left with no job but a river goes unpolluted. Who are you or I to say that that is the right choice for the man with no job? What if that becomes a significant number of people?

              1. Really, dude, you could have just called me stupid and waved your magic hands. It would have been quicker to type.

                1. What? If I wanted to insult you, I would have. That I presented an intellectual rejoinder meant to contribute to further discussion is not an insult. I don’t expect you to respond, but if you are going to respond, at least do so on substance.

                  1. Substance. Throwing shade on perfectly understandable vocabulary, asking theoretical questions about what-if is substance. Pointing out the current state of regulation disparity and its real-world effects is being obtuse and fogging up the thread with will-o-the-wisps.

                    Sure. We’ll go with that.

                    1. Given your past commenting history, I would think you are capable of understanding nuance. But if you insist on concrete instead of abstract, then be specific about the line between the regulations that are acceptable to be imposed as part of trade agreements and those that aren’t. Or maybe there is no line, either for you or the original arguer, and thus my “will-o-the-wisps” are a little more tangible than you admit.

                    2. So now the probem is that I wasn’t specific enough. Well, it’s good that we’re all still certain I’m the problem.

                      Look, I get that you don’t like tariffs, you just aren’t doing a very good job of explaining why, specifically, tariffs for pollution-abatement are bad, other than because they just are and we want to be free! ATTICA ATTICA ATTICA.

                    3. And you haven’t explained why they’re good, either. A tariff doesn’t make foreign pollution go away. Maybe it is a justified imposition of government, but that argument requires justification against counterarguments, such as those I’ve presented. You say pollution is bad, and I don’t disagree, but some people might find a certain level of pollution acceptable if it keeps them employed. You have made many bald-faced assertions but have offered little of substance to support them.

                    4. And you haven’t explained why they’re good, either. A tariff doesn’t make foreign pollution go away.

                      “I don’t know where Hamster’s getting this notion that I think she’s stupid.”

                      Hey, here’s an idea. Let’s assume I could give a rat’s ass if the locals can drink from the Yangtze, and ask ourselves if there might be another interpretation, other than Hamster thinks pollution could be made to disappear with the right law. Since, you know, my faith in the effectiveness of laws is so well-known and shit.

                    5. I’m not calling you stupid. I don’t think you’re stupid. Not in the slightest. But I will call you disingenuous and say you’ve done a fine job of dodging the point of my rejoinders, going on several replies now.

                    6. Odd, since that’s been my objection to you from the start.

                      Clearly, though, it must’ve been me and not you.

                    7. Odd, since that’s been my objection to you from the start.

                      Grounded in what? That I quibbled–briefly and insubstantially–over the meaning of the words “subsidy” and “corruption”? Or that I haven’t acknowledged some point that wasn’t clear to me and still isn’t since you seem far more interested in addressing alleged personal motivations than in making arguments?

                    8. In this case, yes, it’s you, Hamster. kbolino’s rebuttals have been substantive throughout. Methinks you might be missing a point or two.

                    9. Well, ideally voluntary compliance with US standards of production (including federal minimum wage) would merit an exemption from tariffs. If foreign producers would rather pay the tax, it at least lets anti-regulatory people put a floor on the price of US regulation which might help to spur reforms.

                    10. The tariff doesn’t eliminate the pollution, but it eliminates the competitive advantage of being in a place with weaker environmental standards. You may say the resulting higher prices are bad, and I don’t disagree, but some people might find a higher cost acceptable if it keeps their fellow countrymen employed while keeping the environment they inhabit cleaner. It’s certainly no more ridiculous than thinking your fellow countrymen should be put out of work so that you can have both a clean environment and cheap products at no extra cost to yourself or your comforts.

                    11. It is not necessary to specify each and every externality and the disparate treatment and economic impact. It is only necessary to demonstrate they exist and are, or can be significant.

                      Your response to Hamster is nothing more than an attempt to suggest that unless every detail is identified (changing a general argument to a specific one), it is not valid. It is a smoke screen intended to complicate the discussion so much you obscure Hamster’s entirely valid point.

                    12. Trying to divine the “true” cost of production is not waving your magic hands or engaging in specious theory, apparently.

                    13. When you put your “sewer bill” in air quotes that means you don’t have to pay it. But does it work with the “electric bill”?

            2. When an American company has to pay the costs of safely disposing its waste, while a foreign competitor just dumps it in the nearest river, the higher costs of the American company’s product is a more true indication of the cost of production, and the foreign polluter is being subsidized by corruption and bad business practices.

              I’m not sure how not being bound to onerous environmental regulations is a “subsidy”.

              1. It is also worth noting that, while pollution of rivers, groundwater, etc. with chemicals that are provably toxic to humans at levels that are demonstrably harmful is one thing, many regulations are not grounded in such obviously objectionable scenarios.

                1. It is also worth noting that, while pollution of rivers, groundwater, etc. with chemicals that are provably toxic to humans at levels that are demonstrably harmful is one thing, many regulations are not grounded in such obviously objectionable scenarios.

                  Oh, so that’s all right then.

                  *waves magic hands*

                  1. Oh, so that’s all right then.

                    No, but you’ve presented a fine false dichotomy.

              2. I’m not sure how not being bound to onerous environmental regulations is a “subsidy”.

                It’s a handy way to quibble over my word choice rather than face the meat of my argument.

                1. the meat of my argument

                  … which I responded to on its merits, yet you dismissed my response with a red herring about insults.

                  1. … which I responded to on its merits…

                    You didn’t address what I said, you complained about vocab, said, “Well, some regulations aren’t very good” and tried to change the conversation to theory.

                    1. I presume all actions meant in earnest are backed by “theoretical” reasoning. The original context is that of a uniform regulatory framework. If that is not the argument being presented, then elucidate the argument that is being presented and justify it.

                2. No, Hamster, it goes right to the heart of your argument. You’re claiming the absence of enforcement as, somehow, favorable government interference in the marketplace. It’s an odd tack to take against free trade.

                  I also don’t understand why you’re taking such a uncongenial tone. I don’t see how anything I’ve written to you in this exchange is worthy of such salt from your end.

                  1. You’re claiming the absence of enforcement as, somehow, favorable government interference in the marketplace.

                    Frankly, I don’t get how we can understand that law for thee but not for me is a market distortion for everything but an actual global marketplace.

                    Y’all find the word “subsidy” objectionable, so feel free to insert vocabulary of your own choice to describe uneven enforcement of regulation whereby business costs are paid by the business, and foreign competitors’ costs can be paid by everyone else. Business costs paid for by everyone else is totes not a subsidy.

                    I don’t see how anything I’ve written to you in this exchange is worthy of such salt from your end.

                    I’m surprised you think this is me being salty to you. Kbolino, sure. “Word choice, let’s talk hypotheticals instead, you’re not specific enough” is annoying.

                    Shall we start arguing whether I used “corruption” correctly now?

                    1. I have specifically and twice now cited the concrete example of lost jobs. You have dodged this point and said all I want to do is winge about the meaning of words. Even though that was quite literally one throw-away sentence immaterial to everything else I said.

                    2. Frankly, I don’t get how we can understand that law for thee but not for me is a market distortion for everything but an actual global marketplace.

                      Well, for one, the topic of discussion is the confusion between free trade and free market. Secondly, as Welch’s article, as well as other commenter’s examples, have demonstrated there is no such thing as a global marketplace. For such an animal to exist, there would have to be an agreed upon global set of market norms. Instead, we have around 180 or so individual markets that interact with one another in varying degrees. Free trade just means the ability of products to move between these individual markets without undue barriers. But import and export of goods alone does not a market make.

                      I’m surprised you think this is me being salty to you. …

                      Shall we start arguing whether I used “corruption” correctly now?

                      You’re having a hard time separating how you’re choosing to respond to me and to kb, and frankly, that’s annoying. When you’re ready to talk to me as me, either here or somewhere else, I’ll be happy to continue this conversation.

                      Until then, it’s to be continued .

                    3. I’m not entirely clear on what I’ve done to merit such salt being thrown in my direction, frankly. I engaged the argument sincerely and don’t appreciate the ongoing assumption that I must have an ulterior motive or something.

                  2. Can we please not grant the idiots among us the concession that “salt” means annoyed or angry, because it doesn’t, and even assuming living language it’s a retarded use.

                    1. “Salty” already means “seasoned” or “experienced” when referring to a person.

                  3. It’s not favorable government interference, but it does give one firm a competitive advantage over another on price. And this competitive advantage is due not to the laws of nature or physics, but due to the laws of men imposing higher costs on one producer than another. And once one company is rendered uncompetitive relative to another because of government action then free trade is out the window. At that point, levying the tariff is a case of hoping two wrongs will make a right. I’m dubious, but if you’re talking about what’s fair for the two competitors (as opposed to consumers), there’s a case to be made there.

            3. When an American company has to pay the costs of safely disposing its waste, while a foreign competitor just dumps it in the nearest river, the higher costs of the American company’s product is a more true indication of the cost of production, and the foreign polluter is being subsidized by corruption and bad business practices.

              The obvious solution is to compell Americans to pay more for goods and services. American companies are not known for innovation, after all, and have no capacity to overcome such a disadvantage.

              1. The obvious solution is to compell Americans to pay more for goods and services. American companies are not known for innovation, after all, and have no capacity to overcome such a disadvantage.

                Silly rabbit. The obvious innovation is what generally happened: American companies relocated their factories to places that didn’t care if they polluted, and the EPA dumped millions of gallons of toxic sludge into a Colorado river.

                1. I thought they moved due to labor costs. You utopian protectionists need to get your story straight.

                  1. Oh, really now.

                    I think the point at which I’m implied to have environmentalist sentiments, faith in laws and belief in protectionist markets is the point where we realize none of you have any idea what I said. It can’t be heard over the deafening sound of the re-interpretations needed to maintain confirmation bias.

                    Dude. Any time you have to accuse Agile of sobriety, Unciv of hedonism, or Hamster of progressive pro-government leanings, it ought to damned well be time you ask yourself if your logic has gone badly wrong somewhere.

                    1. none of you have any idea what I said

                      Which may just as well be an indicator that you did not say what you thought you said so well as you thought you said it. I never imputed any motive to you, yet you have not made it any clearer what your argument actually is.

                    2. It’s already been demonstrated that the wild anarchist can say wot she likes and people will read into it as they please. I recall, CZMacure I think it was, going round and round and round on a thread together. On that thread I repeatedly stated police racism wasn’t a factor (something something, not looking it up for exact wording and you shall have to deal with it), and the guy responded with, “But assuming police racism is a factor, as you claim…”

                      I damned near had to go back and re-quote every time I’d said the opposite within the hour before it occurred to him that he’d read into my words interpretations that were not there.

                      How may times have I said that I’m a capitalist? I believe I often add “rabid” as a modifier. Kindest thing I’ve said about Bernie Sanders is “bless his heart”. Often post about what a shithow Venezuela is. Doesn’t stop people from calling me a socialist. Hey, I’m a chick and I went to Occupy, clearly further thought is not necessary.

                      Confirmation bias. If you could see yourself imputing motives I do not possess, you wouldn’t do it. And yet here we are, once again thinking the most logical read is that I am pro-government and progressive. That my concern is stopping pollution, for Christ’s sake.

                    3. I do it too. I fucking despise nonsense corrections. It seems logical that I saw a nonsense correction that didn’t affect the argument presented, thought, “Asshole”, and read the rest accordingly. I also know, in theory, that I have Resting Bitch Voice. If I’m not making a significant effort to control it, I sound hissier than I am.

                      So. Let’s go with we both did it. I can, in fact, state in clear terms exactly what I think* and people will filter it through the confirmation bias and thereby be convinced they know what I think. In reality, they’re not even in the right ball park, but it’s not like that’s ever stopped anyone from arguing with me what I’m really thinking.

                      Which they do. You wouldn’t think anyone would argue their superior understanding of your own thoughts. It fucking boggles, but there you are.

                      We’re all assholes, Kbolino. And we probably have no idea what the other one thinks about tariffs.

                      * And I have no idea at this point if my original statement was a clear indication of my thoughts. Maybe it wasn’t. I only know that there’s been plenty examples of when I have been quite clear, and it didn’t matter in the slightest. So your assertion that I might not have been sufficiently clear is something I can get behind, but not that being sufficiently clear is sure to resolve the issue.

                    4. Very well. I would still prefer to have a discussion about the ideas rather than one about possible beliefs.

                    5. That was quite a meta-argument. Are you guys finished?

                    6. I think the point at which I’m implied to have environmentalist sentiments, faith in laws and belief in protectionist markets

                      Well, then; the problems you described: what are your recommended solutions?

              2. The great mass of consumers has the power to fight back against overregulation, but they need to truly feel its brunt to want to do so.

          2. Yes, but by the most strict definition as long as we regulate what is being sold it’s impossible to have “free” trade since the trade is inherently regulated by being forced to meet certain requirements just to be available. Maybe I’m using the term incorrectly, but under such a strict definition the US cannot engage in free trade

            1. But that is the opposite of what you just implied. If regulation is what makes trade unfree, then expanding regulation doesn’t make it any more free.

              1. I actually made the point that expansion of regulation is what is destroying the EU. What I’m arguing is that since we’re not getting rid of our regulations anytime soon absolute free trade is impossible for us and that we are at a disadvantage trading with markets with fewer regulations just from the inherent cost of having to meet the regulatory requirements placed on operating in the US.

                1. The disadvantage exists whether or not trade is unfettered. Fettering trade doesn’t get rid of the disadvantage, it just compounds it.

        2. The issue I have is that a regulated market trading with an unregulated market in inherently not free trade to begin with.

          That is an extremely idiosyncratic definition of the term ‘free trade‘ that conflates the definition of a ‘free market’ with the mere absence of tarriffs and other restrictions on exports/imports.

        3. No need for a law against slavery in the modern economy, it simply doesn’t work economically. Hell, until the cotton gin was invented, slavery was becoming uneconomical even in the agricultural South of the 1830s.

          IP is not true property for a gazillion reasons. It’s supposed to be a utilitarian compromise to spur innovation, but the current laws largely do the opposite.

          1. Then the problem is the IP laws, not the idea that IP has value.

            1. But IP doesn’t have value, because it’s entirely fictitious.

          2. Hell, until the cotton gin was invented, slavery was becoming uneconomical even in the agricultural South of the 1830s.

            And, by the same token (to the man even), industrialization and mass production was effectively ending this issue well before the end of the 19th century. It was pretty clear from a global perspective that slavery (as the seizing of 3rd-worlders and shipping them around various empires for labor) was on its way out.

            1. Because slaves can’t work in factories? Someone should have told the Axis that.

              1. Because slaves can’t work in factories?

                You’re/we’re blurring/slurring the distinction between a slave and a political prisoner/refugee and/or the distinction between slavery and genocide.

                Southern (North American) slave owners were actually unique from slave owners in the rest of the world in that slave families and reproduction were seen as good things or, at least, better tolerated. If your goal is to enslave a race and use it for industrial power (or even more as live stock), starving, gassing, and mass executions is kind of antithetic and vice versa if your goal is to exterminate a race/people.

                Maybe a bit of ‘conspicuously ignoring whether all boats rise equally’ vs. ‘actively sinking ships’ but still.

    4. Saying that every country we trade with must have the same regulations in place undermines the purpose of free trade, which is to exploit division of labor. Of course, you might argue that regulatory disparities create artificial divisions of labor, to which I would agree and rejoin that that generally makes an excellent case for repealing, not expanding the geographic scope of, regulations that create a competitive advantage for countries that don’t have them.

      1. No kidding. I’m fine with exporting smog to the PRC while we enjoy clean air in the US.

        1. Smog in the PRC doesn’t stay in the PRC, just like the smoke from my tire fire doesn’t stay in my back yard.

          1. Actually, it does. Carbon is a global greenhouse gas, but smog is a local pollutant. Just ask LA.

      2. Actually no, the whole premise of why free trade is good is because it allows each country to focus on their comparative advantage – places with a ton of sunshine grow oranges, and places with a ton of water grow rice (econ 102ish).

        What you and others here are describing is simply regulatory arbitrage, which has very little to do comparative advantage and by definition is not Pareto optimal – this is *exactly* why you see exploding growth in places like China and negative income growth for most in the US. If this was just division of labor per comparative advantage, the outcome would be Pareto optimal and we wouldn’t be having this conversation to begin with.

        1. Economics is not a zero-sum game, and therefore it’s a bare assertion that regulatory arbitrage is a distinctly non-“Pareto optimal” type of comparative advantage.

          Incidentally, comparative advantage certainly factors culture, and culture has a great influence on law and regulation, so it’s specious to separate “regulatory arbitrage” from comparative advantage in the first place.

    5. Kick ourselves in the shins because another country is kicking themselves in the shins.

    6. While I’m a proponent of free trade, the problem is when we freely trade with countries that don’t have the same economic regulations in place (environmental, safety, etc), or that don’t enforce business rights, especially IP, we’re not trading on equal footing.

      What’s problematic about that?

      1. Exactly. We’re not trading on equal footing with a tropical country, say, which has a lot more sunshine and heat to produce bananas. No trade is on equal footing in any manner whatsoever. All this sophistry hides the real question: whether to allow or prohibit private citizens from trading with other private citizens in those countries. I thought the libertarian position was pretty clear on this…

    7. …we’re not trading on equal footing.

      Well?

      Does an American owe his business to other Americans, or can he seek the best use of the product of his labor regardless of whom he trades with?

  7. The post-Cold War age of ever-increasing trade, immigration, multilateral integration, and technocratic celebrations thereof, is in the rearview mirror.

    One might ask why.

    Perhaps this ever-increasing trade, etc. eroded the well-being, prosperity, and social cohesion of a significant cohort of people who, as it turns out, vote. One doesn’t have to look too deeply into economic and other data to discover that yes, there does seem to be a chunk of the population who is not benefitting in any perceptible way with a trade, etc. regime that seems designed by elites for the benefit of elites.

    Railing against the sovereignty-busting whims of overseas elites isn’t just effective politics, it’s also often right.

    Thank you for that.

    Is good old fashioned mercantilism the best response? Probably not, but what else is on offer to this cohort?

    1. Getting rid of overregulation at home is the best answer. Not perfect though — there are always going to be losers in the market game. If you spent 40 years becoming an expert textiles maker in North Carolina, and then the plant closes to be replaced by one in Egypt — yeah, you’re not going to just switch to being a computer programmer the next week.

      We have to stop pretending there’s a perfect solution to every problem. I know that answer doesn’t sell well, but it is what it is.

    2. That’s how it looks, at least. I’m not sure that even without liberalized trade US manufacturing could have continued as it was in the mid 20th century. There were a lot of other things going on too that affect. And unions would have shot themselves in the foot in any case.

      1. It’s almost like the head start you get when the rest of the developed world bombs itself into oblivion doesn’t last forever.

        That’s all the 1950s were — a head start — and they’re held up as the standard of how things are supposed to be.

        1. That’s not the entirety of it, though. The U.S. was, in the 1950s, despite a more punitive tax structure and stricter immigration control, a lot less regulated and safety-netted than it is today. The industrial head start helped, but not for very long.

    3. Neoliberalism is like neoconservatism – fraudulent titles to dress up the same old same old as something new. As long as there is taxation and regulation, trade is restricted rather than free. And despite the surface appearances of liberalism, taxation and regulation have been expanding at a rapid pace since the end of the Cold War except for some spots in Asia. And one would have to be delusional to think that present-day Japan and India are doing anything but slamming the doors of free trade (internally if not externally).

      A more accurate phrase from Mr. Welch would be “The Quasiliberal era is over.” The only capitalism in a welfare state is crony capitalism. Until government spending is cut the restriction of freedom will continue.

    4. There will always be boats capsized by creative destruction, but it’s facile to suggest that there wasn’t an economic rising tide thanks to “neoliberalization”. Not that it matters much, but the progressive left were the first folks I heard criticize “neoliberalism”, also on predictably specious grounds.

  8. Yes protectionism will help save jobs at the low end. But it is expensive because he is giving those companies generous tax breaks and therefore ultimately the jobs will be paid for by the workers’ own children. And lots of other economic arguments suggest the long term futility of such strategies. However the bigger problem is that the Trumpkins aren’t interested in jobs. They want blood – war against Muslims, deporting illegals, etc. They may have to settle for a war on abortion and an embarrassment of choice in menial jobs. Whether they can be mollified with these sops remains to be seen.

    1. Welcome to Retardation: A Celebration. Now, hopefully, I’m gonna dispel a few myths, a few rumors. First off, the retarded don’t rule the night. They don’t rule it. Nobody does. And they don’t run in packs. And while they may not be as strong as apes, don’t lock eyes with ’em, don’t do it. Puts ’em on edge. They might go into berzerker mode; come at you like a whirling dervish, all fists and elbows. You might be screaming “No, no, no” and all they hear is “Who wants cake?” Let me tell you something: They all do. They all want cake.

      1. “They all want cake.”
        Pretty sure cockroaches eat most anything.

        1. First they compare you to insects. Then everyone stands around and says nothing. Then they:

          1. You truly are an insect among gods.

      2. Has anyone, to the knowledge of anyone here, written more to it than that passage, authorized or unauthorized? Like maybe some lines of script that got cut? It could be a lot of fun to continue from there & flesh out a book.

  9. You’re seriously wasting your time examining the two-line tweets of a troll for substantive meaning? He’s a fucking troll, dingus. He just unhinges his jaw and excretes whatever nasty shit’s floating around in the old medulla oblongata, it’s a primitive reflex action with absolutely no forethought or significance. He waggles his twitter around just to see what sort of foolish prey snaps up the bait, and here you are. He’s accomplished everything he’s intended to accomplish – if you’d just make some sort of perfunctory comment that “Trump said some shit, if it turns out to have any meaning we’ll let you know” and leave it at that, you’d be trolling the troll.

    1. So, let’s see. The word ‘tweet’ occurs once in the entire article. The tweet itself was about General Motors. The words ‘General Motors’ occur once in the article, in the tweet. Clearly, Welch is the one obsessed with Trump’s tweets.

      1. That’s one for me, zero for you. You’re not very good at the trolling game, are you?

        Or wait….shit. Did you post that reply just to see if I’d respond? Am I trolling you or are you trolling me?

        1. Or wait….shit. Did you post that reply just to see if I’d respond? Am I trolling you or are you trolling me?

          Do you think PTDSSD will be covered once they replace the ACA?

    2. That was absolutely true before he became president.

      You’re a fool if you think he’s not going to use his new power.

  10. One would think on a libertarian website there would be consensus that the more government involves itself in a thing the more likely it is to fuck it up.

    And tariffs are exactly that, government sticking its hand in the economy to try to influence an outcome favorable to a rent-seeking group. This seems like a pretty simple, slam dunk issue for libertarians to hit economically illiterate Trumpkins over.

    1. Too bad half this website is Trumpkins.

    2. We can’t enjoy free markets in the U.S. while China practices virtual slavery.

      1. Perhaps not, but we can certainly benefit from free trade.

    3. Tariffs are the government sticking their hands in the economy, but the reason there is not as much consensus about tariffs as you would expect from this definition is because looking at tariffs is only looking at half the picture. International trade involves two (or more) governments (assuming the trade is legal, not smuggling), and to only look at how one of the governments is meddling misses the point. If government A meddles while government B does not, then the citizens of government B may be harmed by the government meddling while the citizens of government A benefit (since, as you say, this meddling is rent-seeking, often intended on behalf of the citizens of the country that does the meddling). Now, gov B meddling to try to counteract gov A meddling may not be the right solution (it often isn’t), but since people generally want a level playing field in their business dealings it is understandable why such actions are popular.

      1. What people really want is for the government to take care of their every need.

  11. I don’t think that Trump pandering to blue collar, swing voters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin necessarily means that the end is nigh–but I don’t want to see a 35% tariff.

    On some of these other things, I’m not sure some realignment isn’t a good thing.

    On multilateral integration, the EU may have been intended as a common market without tariffs, but it’s also an unaccountable bureaucratic mess. Sometimes it seems to have worked to stop countries like Ireland from slashing their internal tax rates too low–not very neo-liberal.

    On immigration, America’s legal immigration policies are apparently less strict than what you see in Europe–or anywhere else. I know someone who wanted to open a an office outside of London and hire 150 people–getting her a work visa to go there for six months was a nightmare. How many stories have you heard about tourists being rejected at the UKs border because they were judged to have insufficient funds to support themselves while they were there?

    Asylum seekers may have an easier go, but that’s a separate issue. There are very few places anywhere in the world that accept illegal immigration as a fact of life the way Americans do. I’m all for making legal immigration as easy as our reasonable security precautions can possibly allow, but neo-liberalism isn’t necessarily about supporting black markets in labor. It’s about bringing things out of the black market and into the light.

    1. The US is a common market without tariffs, with no internal migration controls and no overarching control of state tax rates. And it seems to work OK most of the time.

      1. I’m not against markets without tariffs, internal migration controls, or federalism, but judging the EU by its original intentions is a mistake.

        Not having internal migration controls is fine, but what about external immigration controls? The EU makes it hard for people to enter the EU for work purposes.

        Asylum seekers are a separate issue.

        Meanwhile, if the EU is clamping down on Ireland because it set its corporate tax rate too low, then what does that say about the EU and federalism?

        http://www.independent.ie/busi…..61614.html

      2. Now if we could only pimp slap some sense into California about their regulations…

        1. Also pimp slap the FDA and the DEA and the USDA and the DOE and the Educrats and the FBI and the KGB & the Gestapo while you are at it, please!

      3. The US is a common market without tariffs, with no internal migration controls and no overarching control of state tax rates. And it seems to work OK most of the time.

        You of course realize that the US was founded and grew under circumstances and a set of initial rules far different from the EU over a much longer time. Do you not?

  12. I’m using the term here as it is deployed these days by its critics

    It’s all so confusing.

    Neoliberalism = Hitler

    Trump = Hitler

    How can Trump kill neoliberalism? It would be like committing suicide.

  13. Oh wait, is there e is that pesky “other shoe.”

    TRUMP, TEH LIBERTARIAN CHOICE!

  14. My darling Trumpelstiltskins – how many days have I left to guess thy name?

    1. I for one, resemble that remark; some of us are NOT “darling Trumpelstiltskins”?
      But now in all honesty, will ye NOT admit that anyone? ANYONE with even the tiniest modicum of good taste? Would not admit that there’s ONE clear place where “The Donald” quite brightly outshines “The Hillary”? ? Imagine with me, for just one moment, that the topless “Donald” behind the topless “Putin” here, in this image?

      https://reason.com/blog/2017/01…..-this-is-n

      ? Was replaced by a topless Hillary? You SEE now, why “The Donald” is better, in at least one way?

    2. Your name is Victoria Terpsichore.

  15. We have to stop pretending there’s a perfect solution to every problem.

    We have to stop pretending there’s a simple answer to every complicated question.

    1. We have to stop thinking that “we” means anything.

        1. “Oui” and “we” are not homophones, unfortunately. Something about diphthongs….

      1. Very good.

        Nations don’t trade; people do. If one does not see the advantage for himself in a proposed trade, he does not do the trade.

        1. If one sees an advantage in a trade and does not see a disadvantage for someone else in the trade he still does the trade but should be circumspect about telling the disadvantaged to “shut up because muh principles”.

          1. “Disadvantage for someone else?”

            Someone else? Do you mean some third party not involved in the trade?

        2. And if Government Almighty has jacked up my prices with 35% import tariffs, yeah, man, I might not do the trade, which I otherwise would… THANK YOU, Government Almighty, for PROTECTING me from affordable goods!

          Scienfoology Song? GAWD = Government Almighty’s Wrath Delivers

          Government loves me, This I know,
          For the Government tells me so,
          Little ones to GAWD belong,
          We are weak, but GAWD is strong!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          My Nannies tell me so!

          GAWD does love me, yes indeed,
          Keeps me safe, and gives me feed,
          Shelters me from bad drugs and weed,
          And gives me all that I might need!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          My Nannies tell me so!

          DEA, CIA, KGB,
          Our protectors, they will be,
          FBI, TSA, and FDA,
          With us, astride us, in every way!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
          My Nannies tell me so!

  16. Gee, sounds like Matt Welch doesn’t believe in free trade. And it also sounds like he’s crushin’ on the Donald. Is it rude to point out that Hillary Clinton, aka “the Human Punching Bag”, got 3 million more votes than Trump?

    1. Presidential Elections: Where the winner must get more popular votes than the other guy.

    2. Not rude but certainly beside the point, An Anal Maven.

        1. Well, at least I don’t live in the Janitor Gang’s tomb.

    3. Gee, Alan, is your ass still sore two months later?
      Grow up, twit.

      1. His pussy took a poundin’, that’s for sure.

    4. Trump has 6.7 million more Twitter followers.

      Boom.

    5. We really ought to give Hillary credit for playing Risk on the Monopoly board.

        1. “You know what Illinois Avenue is? It’s a sitting duck. A road apple, Newman. Illinois Avenue is weak. It’s feeble. I think it’s time to put the hurt on Illinois Avenue.”

          1. “I’M FROM ILLINOIS AVENUE!!!”

    6. Yeah, she really won the hell out of California and New York.

      1. It’s pretty common knowledge that if California didn’t exist, Trump wins the popular vote. Also, if California AND Texas (Trump’s biggest state win by total votes) didn’t exist, Trump still wins the popular vote.

        1. We should force both CA and TX from the Union.

          1. Then TX can take the territory of Mexico, while CA takes all the displaced Mexicans.

    7. And five million of those votes were illegals, the graveyard, fraudulent repeat votes, and the state penitentiary.

  17. Is it rude to point out that Hillary Clinton, aka “the Human Punching Bag”, got 3 million more votes than Trump?

    No more ruder (or annoyingly pointless) than whining about Wyoming’s “disproportionate” representation in the Senate.

  18. OT, but along the lines of Piers Morgan’s column:

    “The Latest: Obama argues for preserving health care law”
    […]
    “New York Rep. Louise Slaughter says Obama focused on how well the law is working,…”
    http://www.sfgate.com/news/pol…..834390.php

    It takes years of practice to make comments like Slaughter’s without collapsing in laughter.
    Nothing on what Obo actually said, but I’m guessing ‘It’s a major fuck-up, but it MY major-fuckup!’

    1. “If you like your bullshit, you can keep your bullshit. Period.”

  19. The grommets of Trade tug stressfully under winds billowing across vast politic prairies of discord.

    Trade has burst into Abstract. Occasional shards of which are caught only momentarily under the quillish scratching of thoughtful fellows who stare out windows past blurry foregrounds and worry.

    1. In a Zero Sum world there is a winner and loser in every trade transaction.

      In the real world there are two voluntary winners.

      1. Not by Robert Ringer’s reckoning.

  20. As a hated neoliberal globalist type I say FUCK YOU to our new GOP statist overlords.

    1. We all know you’re just in it for the lulz. I’d be surprised if you had a firm position on anything.

      1. My political philosophy is pretty clear – I am a hard line secular/atheist liberal capitalist.

        The Trumptard GOP types won’t admit that though. They have to put everyone that does not agree with them into the BernieBro Idiot camp.

        1. You’re a capitalist? Define it.

          1. All means of production is privately owned and markets are protected – (no privately owned fascism or corporate policy dictating government action (Iraq War).

            1. markets are protected

              By whom? Why?

            2. corporate policy dictating government action (Iraq War)

              I love how this is still a talking point even though it has absolutely no evidence whatsoever backing it. Iraq may have been about hubris or personal pique but it being about “corporate policy” is utter bullshit.

              1. The Treasury Secretary (O’Neal) produced a map from the Cheney Energy Commission that divided Iraq’s oil reserves up among Texaco, Exxon, BP, and Chevron.

                1. I’d expect such a devastating claim could be backed up with credible (primary) evidence.

                  The nearest I could find to such a thing was a set of now-dead-links to Judicial Watch.

                    1. So O’Neill says he saw it. That’s it.

                      Where is this map now? In what context was it presented? Did it seem like dividing up Iraq’s oilfields among U.S. corporations was the primary driver behind going to war with Saddam Hussein? Is there corroboration?

                2. 1. Citation needed
                  2. It is a fallacy to assume post hoc ergo propter hoc

                  1. On the issue of dividing up Iraq’s oilfields in the event of annexation, I can only imagine two types of entity managing and exploiting the oil resources:

                    1. A bunch of capitalists whose stated objective is to generate profits
                    2. The US Government who can’t articulate a stated objective, beneficial or otherwise.

                    Given that you don’t want to squander a valuable resource, who would be better at exploiting those reserves.

      2. Bet that plug’s firmly positioned.

      3. “If Obama does it, it’s almost certainly right” is a firm position, technically.

      4. You see where this is going right?

        Global trade and global economies are slowly being vilified under the guise that we are actually cursing globalization of power under the yoke of the main players: political establishments, federal reserve banks of all the nations, and the puppet master mega banks who control the puppets in political positions.

        It is very clever. make small government people use the term globalism to personify the united nations, WTO, World Bank, EU, etc…

        make leftists use the term globalism to mean evil global corporations and evil pollutors.

        Conflate them nicely to eventually push the meme that all globalism is really just evil money making factions, i.e. corporations.

        It is the new word for the next 3-5 years for evil.

        1. “Globalism” is a positive development to me.

          It means cooperation in free trade, currencies, labor movement, corporate governance, peace treaties, and secularist democratic open societies.

          1. A secular society and an open society are not inherently compatible, as the UK, France, and Germany are demonstrating. Sometimes you have to accept one value at the expense of the other. So which gives?

            1. Argument by anecdote, rejected.

          2. Agreed PB. My point being that the term is become so commonplace that the next step is to co-op it into whatever the Marxists fools in the press want to make it out to be.

            They have buy in from both sides of the political spectrum at this point via my arguments above. Going to be very funny.

            Who will get lynched first for being a globalist?

            my bet is that it will not a European politicians or an American cronyist, but rather a capitalist business owner.

            1. Yes, “globalism” has become a dirty word.

            2. We need to stay on message that:

              1) it’s all just more marxism.
              2) Marxism is pure evil.
              3) Marxists have no right to govern, or even exist.

              1. Playing the labels game, but ironically with more honestly than one usually encounters. I can live with it.

    2. Palin’s Buttplug|1.4.17 @ 11:22AM|#
      “As a hated…”

      Turd got that far without lying and then it all came apart.

  21. Robert Lighthizer, who has long railed against what he calls “the utopian dreams of free traders.”

    Christ, what an asshole.

  22. Finally set for a Libertarian Moment.

  23. Is anyone other than Matt surprised by these appointments and actions from Trump? He is doing what he said he would do during the campaign. Sheesh.

    1. No surprise here. Its just sad. Capitalism will take the blame.

  24. it may take as long as a decade to negotiate a new trade deal just with the European Union

    How does that work? Is there a standard tariff on each side of that, such that they need a particular deal to exempt goods coming from a particular place like the EU or UK?

  25. “Neoliberalism?” Last time I checked, “neoliberal” was a derogatory term invented by the left to describe anything they didn’t like.

    1. It is, like many political labels, a context-sensitive term. What does “socialist” mean? Ask an orthodox Marxist, and they would say that there are few, if any, socialist countries in existence right now, certainly not the market economy-cum-welfare state countries in Western Europe. Ask a “democratic socialist” and they’ll say it’s all the rage in the developed world (while conveniently discarding any non-“developed world” examples).

      Similarly, to an orthodox Marxist, “neoliberal” means everything from just shy of laissez-faire capitalism to the aforementioned democratic socialism (inclusive). Whereas a democratic socialist would say that “neoliberal” means everything from laissez-faire capitalism (inclusive), to debtor countries having to face higher interest rates, to free(er) trade, to anything short of every business being a union-run closed shop, but not their own ideology.

      In this context, “neoliberal” means the general order of regulatory-welfare statism being funded by taxes and debt, with the costs hidden through free(er) trade.

      1. In this context, “neoliberal” means the prevailing order of …

        adjusted for clarity

    2. Neoliberalism was originally used in various fields and was co-opted by the left into a derogatory term. IR classes, for example, still use neoliberal in a non-derogatory fashion.

  26. If someone like the Pauls objects to a trade agreement because it introduces crony capitalism, is correct to label it “free trade”?

    1. “Free-we Trade”, perhaps.

      The preferred policy is the unilateral elimination of the trade barriers that the FedGov has erected against the American people.

      1. “Free-er Trade”, not “Free-we Trade”.

    2. “is correct to label it “free trade”?”

      It has about as much meaning as “school choice,” another meaningless sound bite that the Reason editors relentlessly push in these pages.

      1. School choice may be vague or broad, but it’s not meaningless.

  27. So we did elect Bernie Sanders.

  28. We should dispense with the utopian dreams of the Protectionists.

    1. Who is ‘we?’ If Americans thought Free Trade was an important issue, they could have voted for Johnson, the only candidate who spoke in favour of it. Instead they went overwhelmingly for Clinton and Trump.

      1. Shush. I’m doing a thing.

        1. Don’t let my thing interfere with yours.

          1. You should utilize and coordinate your things to so you both mutually benefit. Take turns, at the same time… whatever.

  29. If the world is already ending some -15 days into the Trump presidency, then anti-protectionist political coalitions will win in the inevitable backlash that results from inevitable economic stagnation that results from inevitable protectionism.

  30. Could we please start to use the words we mean? “Liberal” lost its true meaning in the past 70 years. So, what is “neoliberal”? Is that the rebirth of true liberalism or is it another form of progressivisim?

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  33. Someone give Matt a copy of “The Liberal Party in America” by Samuel Harden Church. Liberals were the ones who wrote the wet plank to legalize beer, wine, spirits adopted by the Dems to make FDR El Presidente for Life in 1932. They also wrote planks against bigoted blue laws. God’s Own Prohibitionists, led by Herbert Hoover and Harry Anslinger were busy with the Moratorium on Brains that allowed Positive Christian National Socialist Germany to rearm from 1931 to 1933–instead of paying war reparations and repaying commercial loans taken in These States. The Methodist White Terror in 1932 began using Hitler’s pronunciation to refer to “liberals”, to the puzzlement of Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, Canucks, Indians and everyone else with any command of proper English. To this day Americans identify themselves to the civilized world by pointing at communist looters and hollering LIBRULZ! (git a rope!)

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