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Free Minds & Free Markets

Trump's 'Buy American. Hire American' Policy Is Dangerous Nonsense

In a political sense, the issue is much like fighting climate change.

"We don't have a level playing field for our workers," President Donald Trump told a group of workers in Kenosha, Wisc., on Tuesday. Truth is, if we were to ever level the playing field with countries like Mexico and China, the average American worker would be making $3 an hour and spending their pittance on third-world health care and decrepit housing. Please, don't level the playing field.

When few things are going your way in politics, though, it's customary to return to rhetoric that made you successful. So, as Republicans have been unable to push forward on health care reform or tax reform—or anything not named Neil Gorsuch, for that matter—it is unsurprising that Trump would turn to protectionism as a way to bolster his political fortunes.

On Tuesday, the president traveled to a tool manufacturing company in Wisconsin and threw some nationalistic bromides at a blue-collar crowd (none of which included the words "I'm afraid some of your jobs will be taken by robots in the future"), and then signed an executive order ordering the White House to look into ways to curb guest worker visa programs and require government agencies to buy more goods and services from American companies.

For the past two years, over 200,000 foreigners applied for open positions each year. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services holds a lottery and gives out 85,000 H-1B visas to high-skilled foreign workers. It's a program that's most popular with the tech industry, due to a shortage of Americans trained in science and engineering. I suppose it's a lot easier to stop talented immigrants from entering the country than to find ways to incentivize Americans to become math majors.

Over the past couple of decades, a high number of immigrants (which many H-1B visa holders become) have been part of innovations and start-ups that have created jobs for American workers. Now, even if you don't believe immigrants add economic value, how exactly is cutting down on high-tech visas going to help rehabilitate the economically depressed areas of the nation?

Moreover, it seems telling that many of those who are concerned about illegal immigration also seem intent on lowering numbers of legal and potentially high-achieving immigrants from entering the country. The underlying message is that there is a cultural problem, not merely an economic one. "When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think..." White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said not long ago in a jumbled explanation of economic nationalism, "a country is more than an economy. We're a civic society."

The second part of the order cuts down on waivers and exemptions to President Herbert Hoover's Buy American law. It instructs agencies to use American-made goods and services rather than saving taxpayer dollars or searching out the best deals they can. This is how we incentivize rent-seeking and cronyism. Until a couple of months ago, this is what Republicans used to call "picking winners and losers." If you thought General Motors shouldn't be bailed out because it couldn't compete in a global marketplace, why would you support a state-impelled "Buy American. Hire American" when it comes to steel, for example?

In a political sense, the idea of "Buy American. Hire American" is much like fighting climate change: a comforting government-prescribed solution that people embrace in theory but rarely in practice. In the protectionist's universe, everyone with a Samsung cellphone or a Toyota Camry (both the best-selling brands in their categories) would be a traitor to the American worker. In the real world, competition allows us to buy the best products at the cheapest prices—and then buy more things with the money we save. The rules of economics don't give us waivers for being American.

How damaging will Trump's trade agenda be? Who knows? Despite the protestations of the left—and their eight-year weakening of constitutional restrictions on executive power—Trump's power has always been curbed by the realities of the job. But protectionism is one area where he could find willing partners in both parties.

Protectionism, after all, is where Trump is most comfortable and effective. It's the issue that made him, the issue he is most coherent about and the issue with which he has shown the most ideological affinity. Because of its political potency, it has also seen converts, not only among blue-collar Americans but also one-time free-market conservatives.

"Buy American," an appealing and patriotic-sounding solution, is popular across ideological lines. The protectionist impulses of the progressive left—the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wing—closely align with Trump once the cultural aspects are stripped away. In American politics, both parties seem to have warmed to the idea that we can regulate the country into economic growth. The biggest risk is that protectionist rhetoric will be normalized within the GOP, which means there will be two parties with significant factions embracing mercantilism. How long will it be before that kind of support manifests in truly destructive legislation?

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  • buybuydandavis||

    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services holds a lottery and gives out 85,000 H-1B visas to high-skilled foreign workers. It's a program that's most popular with the tech industry, due to a shortage of Americans trained in science and engineering.

    This shortage has been a myth for decades. The US has turned out plenty of engineers and scientists. Most of them get out of engineering and science once they see how there are better opportunities elsewhere because of, ta da!, the H1B program.

  • Jay Dubya||

    The technology sector is the most consistently successful sector of the American economy in terms of growth, yet your nativist fantasy would have us believe that 85K annual workers - a pittance in comparison to the number of tech jobs that exist or are created annually - is somehow forcing the most valuable non management employees in the economy into waiting tables.

    IT in particular remains successful because it has (comparitively) escaped the sort of soul crushing regulation and licensing schemes that have choked the life out of just about every other industry in america. The obsession of tribal xenophobes like yourself to ensure that not one single American dollar will grace the palm of the Other may very well result in the end of that success. Tech companies have lobbied Team Red extensively for decades & have been rewarded with Safe Harbor tort protections, etc. However, the rise of Trump means the fall of even token support for free markets among Repubs. Trump & his retarded soul brother Bernie Sanders will begin by telling IT job creators who they can hire ... and with no one receptive to free market lobbying efforts, it will all be downhill from here.

    8 years of bitching & moaning about Obama's hardcore Communism, & you people give us a pro-entitlement, pro-tariff, pro-regulation crony mercantilist. Whatever label you put on it or bullshit justification you provide for it, command & control economies fail, and replying "But, Mexicans" won't change that.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    85K annual workers - a pittance in comparison to the number of tech jobs that exist or are created annually

    This is fast becoming the go-to fallacy for the globalist lovers around here. Apparently they have never heard of marginal cost and/or think the rest of us haven't.

    Indeed, the same argument could be turned back around. If 85K foreign workers have such little influence on the labor market, then why are the globalists fighting tooth and nail to keep that number from going down at all?

  • Mithrandir||

    "While the 2016 STEM Index shows increases in STEM degrees granted and STEM hiring, America continues to have a shortage of STEM workers. There were 30,835 additional STEM graduates and 230,246 additional STEM jobs from 2014-2015."

    You're dumb as fucking shit.

  • ||

    You're dumb as fucking shit.

    You're the one not fucking getting it. The only way 85K is the magic number is if congress magically predicted how many tech workers there would need to be and that there would be a domestic shortfall.

    Regardless of whether the numbers worked out this year or not. There's nothing to say that a policy of Free University educations wouldn't turn the whole program on it's head. Which only serves to highlight that the whole thing is a fucking mess that is explicitly built on the notion that if the Department of Education doesn't lick the fucking ice cream cone hard enough, then USCIS top men get involved to bring university certified ice cream cone lickers from oversees.

  • Mithrandir||

    A quota isn't good. It's anti free-market. An embargo, however, is implicitly worse.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    Cite?

  • Kivlor||

    What percentage of those jobs needed college graduates? The trend is to include everything in the STEM field to inflate that number and give the impression that more jobs were created than really were RE: H1B Visas.

    Just looking at the info, they are including all technician jobs across all industries, and even LUMBERJACKS as "STEM". This isn't even worth having a conversation over if you're just going to make up numbers.

  • ||

    Just looking at the info, they are including all technician jobs across all industries, and even LUMBERJACKS as "STEM". This isn't even worth having a conversation over if you're just going to make up numbers.

    This is the part that, IMO, libertarians need to hammer on (and the squirrels won't seem to let me post below). Plenty of these positions nominally fall into dubious classes anyway; where we import people into administrative specialist, artist, educator, and 'manager not otherwise classified' positions.

    The educator-based Visas alone pretty much guarantee that we've given someone a Visa to come work in an American University and contribute to the infantilization of domestic students.

    It's the ACA of immigration.Where the government controls the ceiling and the floor and, ultimately arbitrates which businesses will compete and what prices they demand/services they will offer but, because corporations are involved and people are moving across borders... free market!

  • Mithrandir||

    "Where the government controls the ceiling and the floor and, ultimately arbitrates which businesses will compete and what prices they demand/services they will offer but, because corporations are involved and people are moving across borders... free market!"

    Agreed that government controls aren't ideal, but an embargo is worse than a quota by definition.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    Reason I'm asking is because often these "studies" achieve the desired outcome by counting data entry positions, computer installers, etc as STEM jobs.

  • Kivlor||

    Guarantee he's talking about this.

    And it includes lumberjacks. And it includes every "technician" job imaginable. It's ridiculous.

  • Mithrandir||

    The squirrels aren't allowing links apparently.

  • Kivlor||

    I've posted 3 responses to this, and it so far none have made it through. Damn Reason, get your freaking comments section fixed.

    I linked to the US News / Ratheon Study 2016 STEM survey. I presume that's what you were using.

  • Mithrandir||

    Yes, that's what I'm using. Unlike you, I'm not bothered that they include some admittedly dubious fields in the STEM research. Why? Simple mathematics.

    This isn't measuring the raw numbers of STEM jobs. This is measuring a percentage change. A larger beginning stock job pool means you need to have more increases to have the same amount of year-over-year growth than a smaller job pool would need.

    Unless almost all of the growth is coming from basic technician jobs, which I very highly doubt, including a few occupations that I would not consider to be STEM doesn't bother me as it will likely have a very very marginal effect on the STEM related year-over-year job growth.

  • Kivlor||

    If that's the study you're going with, then it also includes sociologists, political science professors, every other professorship imaginable, social science research assistants, anthropologists... we can go on and on.

    Now, if you're trying to say it doesn't matter that they've padded the numbers that's pretty funny. Since your entire point was "look we only take 80,000 H1Bs per year and there's 230,000 jobs created per year in that job market and only 30,000 Americans entering the market per year!" But if that 230,000 is actually not anything like 230,000 jobs, it would be very important to the entire premise. And if that 30,000 only includes 4 year degrees, in a 2 year degree field, it further changes the numbers. In fact, your entire statement becomes meaningless, because we can't discern what any of those numbers really are.

  • Mithrandir||

    Again, this doesn't bother me. In my original post that I tried to get Reason to send through, I was talking about percentage change.

    Percentage change = (New Number - Old Number)/Old Number

    When your denominator, the old number, is significantly higher, it's much harder to represent a significant percentage change year over year.

    Let's be honest here, we're talking about H1B's, which is largely used for computer related fields. Are you going to make the argument that computer science related jobs aren't growing significantly each year? Really? If you are, sorry, but you can't see reality.

  • Kivlor||

    2 of the top 3 growth "jobs" don't require even an associate's degree. So again, not H1B Visa competition. The top growth "job", which has seen by far the most growth, doesn't require any degree.

    This is sophistry on your part, because you have a foredrawn conclusion, and you aren't willing to examine the evidence. This is the same thing so many people complain about RE: Climate Change here. The fact that you are lying to try to make something look the way you want doesn't exactly inspire one to trust that you are right.

  • Mithrandir||

    Look, it's not even necessary to provide a source that jobs the require a Computer Science degree are growing. However, since you apparently like to deny reality, let's look at CompSci specifically.

    "There are currently over 500,000 open computing jobs, in every sector, from manufacturing to banking, from agriculture to healthcare, but only 50,000 computer science graduates a year," reads an open letter released by the nonprofit Computer Science Education Coalition in partnership with Code.org."

    Sorry, but this is fucking common sense.

  • Kivlor||

    No, I'm making the argument that the largest growth is in jobs that don't even require a college diploma. Which means they aren't H1B competition.

  • Kivlor||

    This thread is probably dead, but I'll add that a quick Google Search shows that in the US there were 28,000 CS degrees granted in 2015 alone. Something smells fishy about your 30,000 STEM graduates 2014-2015...

  • Kivlor||

    Another thought, I haven't gone through the entire study yet, but not only do they equate 4 year degrees with non-skilled jobs, but I would like to know if they limited STEM degrees to not include sociology, psychology, economics, poli-sci, and all of the other things that are not traditionally considered "STEM" which they are lumping into the STEM job market, because that would understate the number of graduates.

    Moreover, the 80,000 H1B's is actually 160,000 because it was over 2 years, and we're talking 80,000/year.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    And of course it's not 85K total, it's 85K per year. Comparing that to the total number of tech workers in the country is also fallacious. You'd have to compare it to the jobs created annually to even make your other fallacious argument.

  • marshaul||

    He and, and you are also dumb as fucking shit.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Any industry "consistently successful" that receives tax-payer funded subsidies in the billions doesn't get to goddamn choose where across national boundaries it gathers labor.

    Your precious IT jewels are well-endowed recipients of governmental monetary largess from all sorts of cute angles.

    Corporations who demand the 'liberty' to hire from wherever in the world are absolutely entitled to that free-market joy as long as they fucking aren't subsidized at any level.

    Bouncing around babbling about pure free-market capitalism when your corporate skin is sweating subsidies and government contracts is a gigantic burst of nonsense turds.

  • ||

    Just in case this isn't obvious, this is the exact same logic that justifies the idea that if your health care is subsidized, society has the right to tell you what you can eat, drink, and smoke.

    And where is the evidence that IT is heavily subisidized? Citation needed.
    You want a subsidized industry, go look at the construction industry, Trumps love-child with the White Working Class. Those guys love them some government subsidies. The white working class is all about mooching off the government teat.

  • Gracchus||

    The white working class is all about mooching off the government teat.

    To be fair to the working class, I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't enjoy mooching off the government teat. Small business-owners, big corporate executives, upper-middle class professionals, doctors, lawyers, all of them love to hate on government benefits unless its their welfare program that's on the chopping block. Considering how bad things have gotten for working class people (of all races) in this country, I'd say they've got the best claim so far.

  • ||

    This shortage has been a myth for decades.

    Even in the American Immigrants sense it doesn't make much sense. Roughly 800,000 immigrants become naturalized citizens every year and

  • Redcard||

    Because 85,000 jobs a year is the number of jobs for engineers and scientists the US produces?

  • No Yards Penalty||

    ByeByeNumnutz.
    Shouldn't you be haunting the Federalist comment threads along with all the other nut-con econo-fucktards?

  • Presskh||

    Agree. There is no true worker shortage - there is only a shortage of American STEM workers willing to work at the wages being offered. If companies ponied up what the market demands for these skills, they would find plenty of competent workers. It's much easier (and much more profitable) to simply give a few thousand to several key politician's re-election campaigns, thereby keeping the flood gates open for cheap foreign labor.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Moreover, it seems telling that many of those who are concerned about illegal immigration also seem intent on lowering numbers of legal and potentially high-achieving immigrants from entering the country. The underlying message is that there is a cultural problem, not merely an economic one.

    When you import people, you import their politics with them.

    Should the US wish to more resemble the politics of China? India?

  • SQRLSY One||

    "Should the US wish to more resemble the politics of China? India?"

    Prepare for the slaughtering of cows (and eating of beef) to be outlawed! Prepare for the One-Party State! (Hint: It is NOT going to be the Libertarian Party, either!)

  • mortiscrum||

    America is really good at assimilation. Seriously, look it up. The people who move here want to kick ass and take names in a true American tradition: by starting businesses, making money, and buying shit.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    That's what I heard on the Spanish language radio station. Right before the ad about how illegal immigrants can qualify for welfare benefits.

  • mortiscrum||

    I get that "on net/on average" arguments don't do a good job of convincing people, but when it comes to policy cooler heads should prevail. Making laws based on xenophobic instincts, that run counter to known facts and figures, do not lead to good outcomes.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    "Facts and figures" can be cherry-picked and manipulated till the cows come home.

    And note you didn't cite any yet claim that they back your position up.

  • chemjeff||

    So... ignore facts and figures, and just go with feelz?

  • Chip Your Pets||

    Not at all. If you have facts and figures, cite them and how they were obtained so we can decide whether they really support your argument.

    Don't just appeal to unnamed "facts and figures". That's bullshit.

  • mortiscrum||

    *eye roll* When someone is making a novel or unusual assertion, it can be quite appropriate to ask for supporting information.

    Saying immigrants are good for the US is not a novel or unusual assertion. This very website has nearly weekly articles making various arguments in favor of this point. If you are not familiar with an idea with that level of exposure, it's on you to seek that information out, not the person who is referring to it.

  • marshaul||

    Really, only nativist xenophobes are afraid to let the free market handle language. Who cares if there are Spanish radio stations? I never fucking listen to the radio anyway.

  • JFree||

    H1B's are non-immigrant visas. Assimilation only occurs with immigrants not guest workers (and honestly only really occurs with the 2nd generation not the 1st). Further H1B are indentured servants of the company that submits their paperwork. They leave that company, they lose their visa.

    If the US actually needs science/tech skills, then we should shut down the H1B and open up the same number of slots to immigrants - who are then free to find the employer of their choice. THAT is how free markets work.

  • chemjeff||

    I agree that the indentured servitude aspect of H1B visas are, to put it mildly, problematic.

  • mortiscrum||

    I'm not making an argument in favor of H1B's (I don't get how immigration talk always turns to H1B's. The amount of H1B's given out renders them statistical noise, as well as them almost exclusively being focused in the tech/computer industry). I'm making an argument in favor of more immigration generally, and most explicitly against the daft notion that, somehow, greatly curtailing immigration will somehow render American culture impervious to change.

  • JFree||

    I favor immigration too but I think we need to do what we have proven works - immigration for citizenship, immigration that disperses geographically, soft encouragement of assimilation, as neutral as possible in any deleterious effects on Americans.

    The reason H1 gets attention imo is because its not that small and it is a big camels nose that scams other immigration. Most legal immigration is purely family-reunification (500,000?) or the lottery (50,000). The exception is the E1,E2,E3 (40,000 per year for each category - with multiyear waiting lists now for the E3) but those are employer-based not skills-based. And they are bureaucratic cluster$#%@s. Employers use the H1 (80,000 per year) to scam the E1/E2/E3 systems a couple years later. The result is that immigration has become cronyism for those with the right connections.

  • ||

    If you want to radically reform the immigration system so people with skills can apply for a visa without having a job lined up first, go for it.

    Right now there is no "skills based" immigration category. Only family based and employer-based. And employer-based is pretty much how high-skilled workers get here. Family-based immigration brings in way more unskilled laborers.

  • JFree||

    That's exactly what I think should happen. Skills-based and immigration initiated by the immigrant not their employer. Employers are not the only class of Americans who should be able to decide what American immigration looks like and who decide how our govt decides things.

  • mortiscrum||

    RE: Skills-based and immigration initiated by the immigrant not their employer.

    Are you proposing that the gov makes immigration decisions, and not private companies based on those company's needs? I'm honestly shocked to see this at Reason of all places.

  • JFree||

    Shocked? You do realize that is how immigration used to work when millions came through Ellis Island.

    Here's some details of the 1903 bureaucracy - http://bit.ly/2p5jJCH
    That omits the ship questionnaire and non-medical questioning of immigrants and behind-the scenes stuff re shipping lines and agreements with exit countries.

    Today it is how 10 million non-immigrant visas are issued per year from consulates overseas where there is a presumption that everyone applying for a tourist visa is prob looking to violate that visa and immigrate or be a terrorist. Seems a bit silly to pretend that this doesn't exist or that continued encouragement of dishonesty (we'll let you in if you convince us you won't stay) is good.

  • mortiscrum||

    I completely agree. To me, this would be a type of pragmatic legislation that makes and honest assessment of the facts on the ground and goes from there. This is in contrast to a more ideological type of policy creation that might start with an idea like "government is always bad at what it does" and go from there.

    Like I said, I was just surprised to see a proposal that involves more government in the Reason comment section.

  • ||

    H1-Bs allow one to pursue permanent residency while living and working in the US. That's mainly what they are used for. You get an H1-B, go to work, apply for a green card via employer sponsorship, and work on the H1-B while the green card application is being processed.

  • Jury Nullification||

    If America was so great at assimilation and it is sooooo great for the economy than why was immigration ceased in in the early 20th century? Have you been to Dearborn, MI lately. Way too many subcultures going on around here. GTFOOH Many are just economic refugees who would be much happier in their home country. They are happy to send much of their earnings "home" for the rest of their family and their retirement home.

    FFS Walt Disney World is importing workers who shamefully coerce the American worker to train them before laying them off... minus the orgasm.

  • SKR||

    immigration restrictions that started in 1924 were a reaction to the collapse of 19th century they globalism that occured because of the horror of WW1. The depression that resulted in 1920 pushed a move for labor market protectionism with immigration laws. Then the Great Depression spurred not only calls for greater immigration restrictions but also intrastate migration restrictions. Then we had WW2 which burned the world except for the US and an America that had begun to grow comfortable with a lack of immigrants decided there were too many huddled masses and since we had just made the one time move to integrate half the population into the workforce coupled with a mobile returning military workforce were able to post impressive economic gains without them. Now we are saddled with the retrograde nostalgia of people that grew up during this abberant period in history.

  • chemjeff||

    America is quite good at assimilation. But, by its very nature, assimilation is slow. It takes about three generations before the immigrants' kids resemble, at least culturally, a native-born citizen. Quite frankly, a lot of the demands that immigrants "assimilate" are complaints that the assimilation process doesn't just happen instantaneously the minute that the migrants cross the border. Well, that isn't how it works, that isn't how it has ever worked, and it's unfair to demand instant assimilation of anyone.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    If they don't like that expectation of assimilation, they're free to use their creative genius to improve their third-world shithole home countries.

  • chemjeff||

    Yours is a ridiculous standard of assimilation that no one would ever be able to meet, no matter how worthy they might be of immigrating here by every other measure. Which is I suppose your point, do you even want any immigration?

  • marshaul||

    That's obviously the point. You can tell when he bitches about Spanish language radio stations, which have about the least imaginable impact of anything in existence on him. It isn't about anything but his nativist feelz. It's tribalism all the way down.

  • JFree||

    People should be allowed to talk about assimilation though. That is where accusations of 'racism' are thrown around in order to shut people up. When the reality is that as long as people can talk about it, those who are racist will show their stripes soon enough.

    I agree with you that it takes 2 or 3 generations - 1st generation comes over - 'raises' their kids as what they perceive as 'American' (by choice or intrafamily rebellion) and those kids then marry outside the 'acceptable' ethnicity/religion/caste/tribe (intrafamily conflict 2) and then they have to decide from scratch not culture how to raise their kids (intrafamily conflict 3). Outsiders/society can't DO any of this but there are ways it can be mildly encouraged - mostly mixing up and dispersing 1st gen immigrants so they aren't all from the same place with the same language and stuff where the tendency will be to create a little intermarrying Balkanistan where homeland baggage can grow/fester. This is exactly where Europe fails completely and has failed for centuries.

  • timbo||

    We should encourage bright people to want to work here no matter where from. The Chinese people coming over here are glad to get out of china.

    If you understand and wish for free markets, then you know that tech companies should have no regulations on who they can hire and we should be encouraging and fostering policies that allow everyone on earth to compete for these jobs.

    For-profit companies are smart enough to know that politics, such as nationalism, simply get in the way of progress.
    A for-profit company judges on return on investment. If a communist somehow rooks his way into getting hired at a company and starts putting communism over profits, that dipshit will get fired real quick.
    Now the fact that zuckerberg and a lot of silicon valley individuals espouse moronic leftist policies does not mean they are not capitalists. They just do not know it.
    Everyone is a capitalist. There are just a great many of them who are so damn stupid, they think that progress and increased standards of livings are OK for them, just not everyone else. These people are fantastically smart at these innovations but many people in specialized forms of industry have little time to explore the world around them and certainly are not that receptive to criticism of that which they have been brainwashed into at Stanford.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    These people are fantastically smart at these innovations but many people in specialized forms of industry have little time to explore the world around them

    You're telling me Mark Zuckerberg has no time to explore the world around him? One of the richest men in the world in his 20s?

    Seriously?

    If he, as well as other well-compensated tech professionals, do not know about capitalism and free markets it is due to their willful ignorance. And ignorance is not innocence. He is deemed a statist until proven otherwise.

  • timbo||

    I agree that zuck is a statist. That is why I put that thing in there about brainwashing. I still cannot fathom why guys like him and google guys are such leftists twats. My only guess is a lifetime of brainwashing and probably leftists parents.
    perhaps a bad analogy but New York City is supposed to be this bastion of business and held up as an example of the potentials of capitalism. I have never met a person from new york who is not a leftist.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    I still cannot fathom why guys like him and google guys are such leftists twats.

    Because he profits from it, duh. Big business and big govt are best friends.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    If you understand and wish for free markets, then you know that tech companies should have no regulations on who they can hire and we should be encouraging and fostering policies that allow everyone on earth to compete for these jobs.

    Free markets within US territory? Hell yeah. But expanding free markets across international borders is a recipe for disaster.

  • timbo||

    Free markets across international borders would be the greatest thing for the world. Every other country on earth is far more socialist than we are.

    Can you imagine the riches that would be created if americans who understand capitalism were allowed to go to recently freed third world countries and import our innovations with all of that cheap labor. The world would rise out of poverty in 15 years.

    Africa remains a shit hole because every country there is ruled by a socialist dictator or just a totally corrupt socialist "legislature' for lack of better word.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    Can you imagine the riches that would be created if americans who understand capitalism were allowed to go to recently freed third world countries and import our innovations with all of that cheap labor.

    China would steal a boatload of our IP and technology and then threaten to use it against us militarily?

    It's not a hypothetical anymore, of course.

  • MWG||

    "China would steal a boatload of our IP and technology..."

    Just like we did we when we were a developing country.

  • MWG||

    Actually, in the case of the US it wasn't boatloads, but trainloads.

  • marshaul||

    "China would steal a boatload of our [Imaginary Property]"

    The horrors!

    An actual thinker would realize that this is a great example of how unnecessary IP laws are, not an argument against free trade. Why? Because it's considered now a cost of business: have your product made in China, and it will be replicated by local concerns within weeks. This isn't an occasional thing, a risk to be factored in: it's a guaranteed cost of business. And yet, virtually everyone elects to have their products made in China. Maybe that Imaginary Property law wasn't so important after all, at least to the actually productive.

  • sasob||

    The world would rise out of poverty in 15 years.

    Would it? Or would the poverty line just be re-adjusted upwards?

  • MWG||

    "Free markets within US territory? Hell yeah. But expanding free markets across international borders is a recipe for disaster."

    Sooo, mercantilism?

  • Mithrandir||

    Yes, mercantilism. Free trade to these people means free trade for 'MURICA! only, everybody else needs to pay tariffs and can only export so much to the good ole US of A to protect American jobs.

    Then again, they also would be the first to complain when foreign nations start slapping retaliatory tariffs on US exported goods.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    ByeByeFucktard,
    Shouldn't you be selling your white supremacist fucktardery at The Federalist or Brietbart, or, um, Stormfront.

  • buybuydandavis||

    The second part of the order cuts down on waivers and exemptions to President Herbert Hoover's Buy American law. It instructs agencies to use American-made goods and services rather than saving taxpayer dollars or searching out the best deals they can. This is how we incentivize rent-seeking and cronyism. Until a couple of months ago, this is what Republicans used to call "picking winners and losers."

    Most Americans think their government should pick them to win over foreigners.

    I know the Ruling Reptiles don't like it, but the peasants do, and they can still vote (damn uppity peasants!)

  • chemjeff||

    Most Americans think their government should pick them to win over foreigners.

    Even if it means more expensive government?

    Even if it means those firms who get the government contracts "just happen" to be the politically connected ones (you know, the ones who lobbied for the "buy American" rules to be put in place in the first place)?

  • Chip Your Pets||

    Buy American != no-bid contracts

  • RMH||

    "In the protectionist's universe, everyone with a Samsung cellphone or a Toyota Camry (both the best-selling brands in their categories) would be a traitor to the American worker."


    Aren't most if not all Toyota Camry's sold in North America built in Kentucky?

  • BikeRider||

    Yes. Unlike my FORD Escort and DODGE Dakota that were both built in Mexico, Camry's are built in Georgetown KY. That plant has been running for over 25 years and it's not just an "assembly" operation. They actually manufacture parts and components right there.

    This doesn't change the basic point of the article but it's very sloppy reporting.

  • SQRLSY One||

    A Modest Proposal:
    Start replacing, willy-nilly, American college professors, American politicians, and American media-types… To include "Reason" correspondents… With H-1Bs! Because we can NOT find enough "qualified" Americans!
    Would THAT change the tune of things around here?

  • MWG||

    Seriously? Colleges are FULL of foreign born professors. The "media" as well.

  • sasob||

    Hmm. Maybe that's why American universities are leftist, progressive gulags and the mainstream media is little more than the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party.

  • MWG||

    Yes, it's most DEFINITLEY because of the foreigners.

  • MWG||

    Seriously? American universities are FULL of foreign-born professors. The same goes for "American media".

  • MWG||

    Damn squirrels.

  • Crusty Juggler aka "Chad"||

    Buy American, hire American, but schtup foreigners.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Dangerous Nonsense was my nickname at the pool.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    Was that after the Traveler episode of TNG?

  • Agile Cyborg||

    The H-1B visa is cum spraying, spurting, and, finally, dribbling soulfully from the silver-dollar corporate orgasm chasm.

    H-1B erases the seasoned and replaces them with fresh and naive underpaids thrilled to escape streets thick with trash and shattered glass-bottle fantasies.

    Your fucking creator chalk is blackboard dense with poor equilibrium, DH.

    Yelling 'Buy American' from the tips of golden steeples changes not a single flip of the wallet that reality converges far differently behind as it saunters between open store doors where 90% of products WILL originate far beyond these shores you so gaudily misinterpret.

    A smidgen of pride in American production... Just that. Scraps and iotas of teensy-weensy thrills. It'll be OK, Mr. goddamn D. You and your odd chafing about the scribblers. No amount of American catch-phrasing will ravage the international shelves. Eat your fucking cucumber sandwich now.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    It instructs agencies to use American-made goods and services rather than saving taxpayer dollars or searching out the best deals they can. This is how we incentivize rent-seeking and cronyism.

    Bullshit. Buy American does not require no-bid contracts, which are the source of cronyism and corruption.

  • Kivlor||

    I think we can honestly say that it won't be the "cheapest" bid possible, since they won't be getting to use indentured servant labor anymore, but that's a massive step from "only use my husband's company because I'm politically connected / an elected official".

  • Chip Your Pets||

    Gorsuch pays dividends already. Too bad tire irons are not an approved method of carrying out the sentence.

  • Mithrandir||

    Tough one this. You could potentially make a states-rights argument for this.

    Personally, I'm more inclined to lean towards not allowing governments to have the right to execute citizens, convicted or not.

  • livelikearefugee||

    So, when one of these bright foreign students graduates from Cal Poly with an EE degree, do we want him to get a job in the US or go back to Mumbai and start his own business?

  • Homple||

    He should go back to Mumbai and start his own business. India needs him and his business desperately; we will get along fine without him.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    Keep thinking that, American fucktard.

  • JuanQPublic||

    Let's cut to the chase: Trump and nanny state nationalists want affirmative action for American workers. Instead of companies hiring people on talent and hard work, Trump wants to force lower quality workers with less skill.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Please don't point out the obvious. We need more patriotic exhortations and bromides to help the mediocre and those who long for the buggy whip industries to feel better about themselves.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Because of [Protectionism's] political potency, it has also seen converts, not only among blue-collar Americans but also one-time free-market conservatives.


    Blue-colllar Americans I can understand, considering that their knowledge of basic economics is limited to whatever they hear at school or from discussions around the Thanksgiving dinner table. But I don't buy that these 'conservatives' were free-market advocates ever. You can easily spot the hypocrites by how they start their comments with "I fully support free markets, but..."

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    When the free traders are willing to give up their UBI fetish and have some logical consistency I'll be willing to listen (not saying that Harsanyi's got that problem). Until they do they're just making a special pleading for their preferred form of welfare.

  • ||

    I'm confused. I thought people were only against ILLEGAL immigration. Especially low-skilled illegal immigration from Mexico.

    (motte-and-bailey strategy FTW).

  • Redcard||

    Truth is, if we were to ever level the playing field with countries like Mexico and China, the average American worker would be making $3 an hour

    And?

  • ||

    Because the average American worker has nothing to offer than an illiterate third world immigrant who doesn't even speak English can't offer.

    Such striking confidence in the value of American workers is really heartening. I can see the white working class really believe in it's own worth.

  • Gracchus||

    The average American worker has one thing to offer: his labor, and all the skills that come with it. He also has a lot of demands for his employer: an annual raise, health benefits, a pension, and respect from his boss/supervisor. Why go through all that when you can hire a 15 year old in Vietnam for a tenth of the cost and none of the regulatory/labor problems? If you were in a labor-intensive industry (clothes manufacturing, for instance), you'd have to be an idiot (or a savvy capitalist) to pass that up.

  • ||

    Yes, so? Most textile work is in fact done overseas in places like Vietnam now. Clothing would cost 5x what it does today if we banned clothing imports.

    The economy is not a giant milch cow to be used to subsidize the generous benefits packages that working class labor types think they are entitled to.

  • Gracchus||

    Workers don't like getting their pay reduced, even if it turns out in the end to be a net positive. Also the reason why labor is so cheap in those countries is because they have shoddier workplace standards and still employ (to some degree) child labor. Despite the so-called "conservatism" of the working class, I doubt a majority of them would want their kids following them into the factory as a career, let alone as a coworker.

  • MayneDeWayne||

    Real problem with our economy is the 16th amendment taking our money from us and the states, and then holding our own money over our heads unless we do what the administration wants. See sanctuary cities and N Carolina bathroom law. Bring back tariffs as a way to make money by taxing the shit out of cheap shit from China and everywhere else. On top of that, we send money out hand over fist to foreign nations because if we don't give them our money, then they all want to fucking kill us. It's like a bully shaking you down in the lunch line at school. Keep our money here. America used to be about create, sell and fuck everybody else.

  • g_barnes||

    H-1B visas and other programs are abused at every angle possible. I've worked in this industry for 30 years now and everyone that can is abusing it. There is not shortage of "STEM" engineers in the USA, just a shortage of those that will work for the wages the H1Bs will work for (yes, most are severely under paid). I went the consultant path and remain in control of my career, but many who want to be employees it a tough road. Protectionism is a real concern, but the VISA abuses are still real. its about money, you save money or make money, but you got to show progress every quarter for the stock market. If you don't your stock price takes a dump. But give up your vision of a quality and hire the cheapest that can be found, postpone you deliveries, downplay your bugs, but look good for the next quarter. Nobody makes anything new anymore, its careful planned cheap increments on your project with your new "cheap" talent that creating new bugs faster than the few actually good engineers left can fix them. Your good guy get burned out and complains. Then your good engineer gets to train his replacement before he walked out the door. 1 year later before the customer sues you for not finishing their project, they buy another company then outsource the work to them.

  • zombietimeshare||

    Instead of focusing on the the H-1B visa program, consider at all the other programs as well. The L1 visa program which also lets in tens of thousands per year. And, while you are at it, the TN1 visa program for Canadian and Mexican citizens only. The Green Card program. The E2 Investors visa, and so many more.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    this place really went downhill when it started getting polluted by white supremacist, economically retarded Federalist readers.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Trump voters.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Meet the new troll, same as the old troll.

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  • ||

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