Free Trade

Twitter meltdown inside & out

Featured image In the immediate aftermath of the Twitter board’s acceptance of Elon Musk’s buyout offer, Twitter management held a company-wide call that lasted around 45 minutes yesterday. Project Veritas has posted an edited version of a leaked recording (below). During the call Twitter employees questioned board member Bret Taylor and CEO Parag Agrawal about the company’s direction and about Musk’s motives for buying the platform. One can sense the heartbreak and »

“Common good capitalism” vs. the free market kind

Featured image Earlier today, I wrote about an alleged ideological division in the Democratic party between the far left and the establishment. Now, I want to consider an ideological split in the Republican party about which Eliana Johnson filed this report. That gap is related to, but not the same as, the division between hardcore Trump supporters and Republicans who would like to see the Party move on from the ex-president. It’s »

How much protection does Section 230 really provide Big Tech?

Featured image Big Tech companies, including Google and Twitter, are pulling the plug on disfavored posts, websites, and even people. They rely on section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act to justify censorship. One way around section 230 is to enact state laws that ban viewpoint discrimination by tech companies. I discussed that project here and here. John followed up with this post about his efforts to advance such legislation in »

Yes to free trade, no to “industrial policy”

Featured image The Spring 2020 issue of National Affairs contains a powerful defense of free trade written by Richard Reinsch, II. Reinsch is editor of Law & Liberty. His target is industrial policy aimed at reviving jobs and increasing wages in the manufacturing sector, including policies targeting free trade. Reinsch wonders why there is so much focus on manufacturing jobs, which currently constitute only 8 percent of employment. One reason has to »

Should the U.S. adopt an “industrial policy”?

Featured image At the recent National Conservatism Conference in Washington, the crowd voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for the United States to adopt an “industrial policy.” In so doing, the conservative crowd agreed with Sen. Elizabeth Warren who, as John has noted, also wants the U.S. to adopt such a policy. The idea is for the government, through a set of policies — taxes, spending subsidies, regulation, and tariffs »

In winning trade battles we might lose the war

Featured image Yesterday, Steve linked to and discussed an article in which Irwin Stelzer argues that President Trump might win the trade disputes he has incited, and that winning them might even be “easy.” The article is significant because as Steve noted, Stelzer is not a fan of Trump. In addition, Stelzer is an astute observer of economic matters. As a counterpoint to Stelzer’s article, I recommend this piece by David Goldman. »

Trump weighs rejoining the TPP

Featured image Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton didn’t agree on much during the 2016 campaign, but they did agree that the U.S. should not participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). I read this as a sign that the U.S. should stay in the TPP. That’s not why I favored staying in, though. Nor was my opinion based on the virtues of free trade. It’s possible to be a free trader and still »

Trade war with China? We’re already in one

Featured image Yesterday, there were two developments on the trade front. First, the Trump administration said it will impose tariffs on $60 billion in Chinese goods and limit China’s ability to invest in the U.S. technology sector. Second, the administration issued a reprieve on steel and aluminum tariffs for some of our closest trading partners. As a supporter of free trade, I welcome the second development. But I also welcome the first. »

Congress unlikely to assert its constitutional role on tariffs

Featured image Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises.” At times during our history, Congress has exercised that power with a vengeance. For example, in the late 1800s, William McKinley made his legislative name writing tariff legislation. To be sure, tariffs have foreign policy implications and can even affect national security. Thus, it’s not unreasonable that the executive wants »

A showdown over sugar

Featured image When it comes to the debate between free trade and protectionism, I generally side with free trade. When it comes to NAFTA, I’m not persuaded that the agreement has been the “disaster” President Trump labels it. But whatever one’s stance on trade agreements, it’s important to call out and punish those who abuse them. In fact, it’s imperative that free-traders do so. Otherwise, opponents of future agreements will have a »

The Question of Trump’s Consistency

Featured image Tim Alberta’s National Review article, “Conservatism in the Trump Era,” is a terrific piece of reporting, well worth taking in. Among other questions, it looks at the notion of whether the new “economic nationalism” that Trump, or at least his amanuensis Steve Bannon, is working out in real time will confound or corrupt conservatism­—or make for an enduring Republican majority that scrambles the voter alignments of the last two generations. »

The post-Trump GOP

Featured image Unlike Steve, I’m convinced that, unfortunately, Hillary Clinton will win this election. Assuming she does, and that the race isn’t very close, what will happen to Trumpism? To answer this question we must identify Trumpism’s main characteristics. In my view, there are five: (1) the unbridled egotism of its leader and his whiff of authoritarianism; (2) gratuitous nastiness; (3) a strong stance against illegal immigration; (4) intense skepticism about the »

Obama makes last gasp effort to gin up positive foreign policy legacy

Featured image At the beginning of his first term, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton announced a foreign policy “pivot” to Asia. Unfortunately, events refused to pivot with Obama and Clinton. Like the oceans that declined to recede, the big events stubbornly remained were they were — in the Middle East, as every intelligent analyst expected they would. Civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIS, Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons »

Will Trumpism survive a Trump defeat?

Featured image Jonathan Tobin takes up the question at Commentary. He defines Trumpism as “isolationism, protectionism, and populist blood and soil nativism.” Tobin answers his question this way: Though Trumpism without Trump would be a very different and less potent movement, it is a mistake to think even a landslide defeat for the Republicans will guarantee that it can resume its past stance as a supporter of a strong America on the »

Does Trump Make Sense on Trade?

Featured image Many voters link Donald Trump’s positions on immigration with his position on trade. Both are seen as generally nationalistic. However, while Trump’s views on immigration are generally sound (but for the fact that his proposals don’t go far enough), his anti-free trade rants are highly suspect. Paul quoted Trump in yesterday’s speech: I have visited the cities and towns across America and seen the devastation caused by the trade policies »

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Signed to Little Fanfare. Here’s Why

Featured image The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement was signed yesterday in Auckland, New Zealand. The administration claims it will boost America’s economy, but many are skeptical. Senator Jeff Sessions released a statement that said, in part: 7,000 miles away, the President’s trade representative just quietly signed a massive, 5,544 page trade deal, with little fanfare from its supporters. Only months ago Congress voted to “fast-track” this deal, despite not knowing its contents. »

Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Featured image A cardinal rule in our medium is that you shouldn’t do a post that says you are undecided. What’s the point? It’s like voting “no opinion” in an internet poll. Why does anyone bother to do that? Nevertheless, I confess that I haven’t made up my mind about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the full text of which–thousands of pages–has now been delivered. Senator Jeff Sessions, generally the most reliable bellwether in »