miércoles, 18 de mayo de 2016

‘Free Trade’ vs. Actual Free Trade

Trade agreements pushed by corporate elites are bogus “free trade”
The unlikely rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump has focused public attention on an issue that hasn’t gotten much attention since the Civil War era – international trade.
One of the biggest controversies in nineteenth century American politics was tariffs – with Big Business manufacturers for them, and farmers and producers of other commodities against them. Corporate behemoths wanted protection from foreign competition, while ordinary consumers wanted lower prices. Furthermore, tariff revenue was used to enrich crony capitalists in the industrialized North: the federal government subsidized the building of railroads, canals, and other infrastructure, while the beneficiaries of this largesse turned cheap tariff-free commodities produced in the South and West into high-priced manufactured goods.

Nationalism, Patriotism, and Libertarianism

The nation isn’t the government
I was struck by a tweet from libertarian Republican congressman Justin Amash, who has become the “new Ron Paul” now that the three-time presidential candidate and libertarian icon has taken a well-deserved rest from politics. The other day he tweeted:
“Patriotism & nationalism are profoundly different. Patriotism is love of country. FA Hayek called nationalism ‘a twin brother of socialism.’”
Amash, who has vowed to never support GOP frontrunner and likely presidential nominee Donald Trump, undoubtedly had the New York real estate mogul in mind, but no matter what one thinks of The Donald, Amash is quite wrong about the nature of American nationalism and the meaning of “patriotism.”

Obama’s Historic Visit to Cuba Is the Right Policy

President Obama’s historic opening to Cuba has come under fire from Republican and even some Democratic hawks because Cuban President Raul Castro did not greet him at the airport and because the Cuban government arrested members of a dissident group while Obama’s plane was en route to the island. Those Cuban actions are a reflexive reaction because Obama’s visit is the biggest threat to communist rule there in decades.
The Cuban people likely would have thrown the Castro brothers out of power long ago if previous U.S. presidents had done what Obama is now doing. U.S. hostility to Cuba has allowed the Castros to blame their external nemesis to the north for the abysmally backward state of their country caused by their own failed economic and social policies. Now, the Castros’ policies will need to stand on their own merit—or lack thereof—because they won’t have the United States to rhetorically kick around anymore.

Which Party Is Better for the Economy?


Yesterday’s papers came with a slew of depressing headlines.
“Earning Skid is Worse Since Crisis,” said the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
“Hiring Rises: Output Lags. It’s a Mystery,” said the front page of The New York Times.
“White House struggles to explain weak economy...” said the Drudge Report, followed by “First President Not To See Single Year 3% growth...”
“Warning signs are surfacing: Temp job numbers can indicate a recession is around the corner,” said Bloomberg news.
There is no doubt that our recovery from the Great Recession has been the slowest recovery in more than half a century. But why is that? Surely part of the reason is that the Obama administration has been more hostile to private sector job creators than any president in memory.

The Curious Rise of the Push for $15 Wage


In 1987, the New York Times published an editorial, titled “The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00” – which advocated the complete abolition of minimum wage laws. In January 2009, the Democratic Party took complete control the federal government, including a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. At the time, the minimum wage was $6.55 an hour, scheduled to rise to $7.25 an hour in July 2009. The Democrats decided not to boost the wage above the level set by the Bush administration, and thus the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour ever since.
Over the next few years, however, something very strange happened. The progressive movement began advocating a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and the proposal has now been included in the Democratic Party platform. In a number of important states and municipalities, $15 minimum wage laws have been passed, albeit phased in over a number of years.
What explains this dramatic change in attitude?

All Monocausal Theories of Economic Growth Are Wrong

For as long as economic growth has been a noticeable phenomenon—at least since Adam Smith’s day—economists, historians, and others have advanced theories to explain its occurrence. Many of these theories have identified a single factor that is regarded as “the answer” to the question at issue. Thus, the exploitation of wage labor, the enslavement and exploitation of African slaves, the presence of certain raw materials, the presence of a certain religion, and many other factors, one by one, have occupied center stage in these portrayals. Because all such theories have fairly obvious shortcomings, analysts have spent much time refuting one another’s pet hypotheses. Since World War II, the economics profession has even created a new subfield called development economics to deal with these disputes, often by the formulation of novel models or the econometric testing of various hypotheses. Notwithstanding all of these efforts, debates about the one or the main factor behind the process of modern economic growth have scarcely been settled, even among well-informed professionals.