Department of Commerce

Wilbur Ross, Crony Capitalist

Donald Trump's pick to run the Commerce Department loves it when the government picks winners and losers.

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Garth Williams

A great deal of the Department of Commerce is basically a machine for dispensing corporate welfare. Don't expect that to change under Donald Trump: His nominee to run the department, businessman Wilbur Ross, has a history of both advocating and profiting from federal and state interventions in the economy.

For some examples, check out Tim Carney's column about Ross in The Washington Examiner. Here's an excerpt:

"One of the problems in our country," Ross said in 2010, "is we don't have an industrial policy." By "industrial policy," Ross meant federal laws that steer resources to certain sectors for certain activities.

Ross, in a CNBC interview in the summer of 2010, expressed his admiration for China's five-year plans, the ones originated by Communist revolutionary Mao Zedong. "Is that something we should do here, Wilbur?" journalist Andy Serwer asked.

"Yes," Ross responded….Ross explained how he would use government to steer the economic ship: "We ought, as a country, to decide which industries are we going to really promote—the so-called industries of the future."

As Carney goes on to show, Ross has himself benefited from a variety of economic interventions, including steel tariffs, textile quotas, coal subsidies, and more. To read the whole thing, go here.

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  1. We very much have an “industrial policy”. All those wind and solar farms weren’t buit w/o goverment central planning.

    1. Government support for wind and solar farms is totally a central tenet of libertarianism.

    2. I’m sure that with Trump’s Top Men in charge, the central planning will be a huge success this time.

      1. At least it will be classier, with gold leaf and shit.

        1. A beautiful wind farm. Tremendous.

          1. And the best solar panels, like you wouldn’t believe. Big league.

    3. We very much have an “industrial policy”. All those wind and solar farms weren’t buit w/o goverment central planning.

      And how that excuses Trump’s pick for Commerce Secretary we will never know.

  2. I really don’t see a problem with government steering the economy toward the businesses of the future. As long as they’re careful not to steer the economy toward the businesses that turn out not to be the businesses of the future. They should only invest in businesses that are going to be successful and not invest in ones that aren’t going to be successful. It’s really just as simple as buying stocks – only buy ones that are going to go up in price, never buy ones that are going to go down.

      1. calibrate Sarcasmometer

  3. Tom Friedman creams himself.

  4. Also, you could have used Mr. Ed.

    1. It’s talking livestock references all the way down. Which is appropriate for an ass like Ross.

    2. Also, you could have used Mr. Ed.

      That was my first thought, actually, but I thought this worked better.

      1. Sure, if you want to be provocative and risk a web with “fake news!” woven into it hanging over your publication.

  5. “We ought, as a country, to decide which industries are we going to really promote?the so-called industries of the future.”

    He doesn’t really mean that, because that would mean that individuals would be making their own decisions, which would then determine which industries succeed. That would be promoting industry as a country.

    He really means that a minority of people with the coercive apparatus of the state should decide instead of the country.

    1. +1 other name for the things we choose to do together

    2. +1 this is why I should read all the comments before commenting.

  6. Sometimes I just want to punch a little girl in the face as hard as I can.

    1. Would you settle for Wilbur Ross and for all the time?

  7. So with the alt text are you saying he is a schill for Big Pork?

  8. No one is more of a crony capitalist than a …. successful capitalist. OF course Jeffrey Immelt lobbies every administration to come into office- HE HAS A FLEET OF LAWYERS AND CAN NEGOTIATE ANY REGULATIONS THE US GOVERNMENT PUTS UP! But using those regulations to kill future competitors in the crib and pose no threat to any of GE’s industries? Well, my friends, that is priceless.
    We shouldn’t be surprised that people who are successful want to game the system and pull up the ladder after themselves. Its hard work bringing a superior product to market at a competitive price.

    In that respect, capitalism somewhat contains the seeds of its own destruction….

    1. It’s all about the power. Money follows power, always. There is no solution to crony capitalism or public corruption other than reducing the power of the government so that it cannot perform favors and punish enemies.

  9. Anybody else catch this:

    American soldiers rolled into Poland on Thursday, fulfilling a dream some Poles have had since the fall of communism in 1989 to have U.S. troops on their soil as a deterrent against Russia.

    Some people waved and held up American flags as U.S. troops in tanks and other vehicles crossed into southwestern Poland from Germany and headed toward the town of Zagan, where they will be based. Poland’s prime minister and defense minister will welcome them in an official ceremony Saturday.

    “This is the fulfilment of a dream,” said Michal Baranowski, director of the German Marshall Fund think tank in Warsaw. “And this is not just a symbolic presence but one with a real capability.”

    U.S. and other Western nations have carried out exercises on NATO’s eastern flank in past years, but the new deployment ? which includes some 3,500 U.S. troops ? marks the first-ever continuous deployment to the region by a NATO ally.

    It is part of a larger commitment by President Barack Obama to protect a region that grew deeply nervous when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and then began backing separatist rebels in Ukraine’s east.

    There are fears, however, that the enhanced security could eventually be undermined by the pro-Kremlin views of President-elect Donald Trump.

    1. Jesus. So the media is trumpeting an increased US military presence in Europe and is anxious that the new Republican president will be weak on Russia.

      Anyone else get that feeling like they recently woke up in an alternate reality where everything is opposite without realizing it?

      1. Anyone else get that feeling like they recently woke up in an alternate reality where everything is opposite without realizing it?

        Yep. Some kind of portal opened up on November 9th.

        1. A portal to 1983. Dammit, I don’t want to have to go through 9th grade again.

      2. Can one of our NYC Hit’n’Runners look and tell me what color the Statue of Liberty is?

        1. It has a goatee now

            1. But it’s always had a goatee, like all females. What are you two going on about?

              1. It looks like evil Spock now.

                1. Crap, evil Spock strikes again

                    1. Just ’cause SugarFree hasn’t been around today doesn’t mean you need to try to fill his orthopedic shoes, Lee.

      3. Its a modified Orwellian tactic instead of the government changing history we have two parties changing path otherwise people would quit voting for them. gotta keep us allarmed

        1. I’m sort of alarmed by your spelling and grammar, Ron.

    2. And still no grand strategy defining what is in the U.S. interest has been articulated by the President. I guess it’s foreign entanglement for foreign entanglement’s sake.

  10. It could be worse. Trump could have picked Leo Hindery.

    1. “It could be worse.”

      We could’a ended up with the hag.

  11. “We ought, as a country, to decide which industries are we going to really promote?the so-called industries of the future.”

    We’ve already decided. We “promote” the shit out of public employee pensions.

    This is how we should respond every time somebody starts whining about “unfunded infrastructure”.

  12. A beautiful wind farm. Tremendous.

    With putt putt golf.

  13. Can one of our NYC Hit’n’Runners look and tell me what color the Statue of Liberty is?

    Still green, but she’s up to her chin in sand.

  14. “We ought, as a country, to decide which industries are we going to really promote?the so-called industries of the future.”

    I guess only the state, and not markets, is the “country” in Ross’s eyes.

    1. Bastiat’s quote about socialists’ fundamental confusion now applies to 80%+ of the political spectrum.

  15. This is that low talking, bald nebbish that is on CNBC all the time, right?

    Bah.

  16. This is that low talking, bald nebbish that is on CNBC all the time, right?

    He shows up on Bloomberg all the time. They invariably introduce him as Billionaire Wilbur Ross, as if that’s his legal first name. Mostly puts me to sleep with his blather.

  17. It’s refreshing to hear a politician so open about his cronying. No blathering about social justice or other nonsense.

    /accentuate the positive…

  18. How are the writers at reason able to even move anymore, much less get to work, with so much shit in their pants?

  19. Props on the illustration. The jump from Wilbur to the pig from Charlotte’s Web to the particular web writing is a thing of rare beauty.

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