By Ryan Bourne
In a pugnacious passage, he claimed: “Every decision on trade… will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”
By Ryan Bourne
The media will pore over the plethora of announcements made — fiddly tax changes here, growth forecast revisions there. But this short-term focus misses the real policy story of the post-crisis period. The political class is failing to address our long-term fiscal challenges, with its spending choices arbitrarily reshaping the British state while entrenching growing welfare expenditure on politically powerful groups.
This dawned on me last week when watching President Donald Trump outline the broad contours of his budget plan to the US Congress. “The Donald” wants to boost military spending by $50bn, paid for by discretionary spending cuts in a range of departments.
By Ryan Bourne
His premise is simple: trade deficits are a drain on economic growth, and the capital surpluses necessary to finance them are also harmful to American interests.
Where to start?
By Doug Bandow
Indeed, he promised not to include in his administration “those who have perfect resumes but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war.” And he’s generally kept that commitment, for instance rejecting as deputy secretary of state Elliot Abrams, who said Trump was unfit to be president.
1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)A tyrannical Empire threatens the freedom of its people and uses mind control, torture, propaganda, and force (including The Force) to destroy their way of life and even an entire religion. There’s no way this could happen on our planet, only in a faraway galaxy… right?
Empire won Best Sound Mixing and a Special Achievement Academy Award; other films that have received this award include Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Toy Story.
2. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)For countless generations, young people have been taught that fighting and dying for their country is the most glorious thing a citizen can do. Two millennia ago, the Roman poet Horace opined, “Dulce et decorum est pro Patria Mori” — how sweet and honorable to die for the fatherland!
All Quiet won Academy Awards for Best Director and Outstanding Production in 1930.
The great German sociologist, Max Weber (1864-1920) offered an understanding of the evolution of socialist regimes in the twentieth century from revolutionary radicalism to a stagnant system of power, privilege and plunder, manned by self-interested Soviet socialist office holders.
Max Weber, in his posthumously published monumental treatise, Economy and Society (1925), defined a charismatic leader as one who stands out from the ordinary mass of men because of an element in his personality viewed as containing exceptional powers and qualities. He is on a mission because he has been endowed with a particular intellectual spark that enables him to see what other men do not, to understand what the mass of his fellow men fail to comprehend.
Since Trump semi-endorsed the Penny Plan, I don’t think this is a hopeless quest. But it will be an uphill battle since populists have a “public choice” incentive to appease interest groups.
But we have a very powerful weapon in this battle. It’s called evidence.
And now there’s even more data on our side. The Institute for Economic Affairs in London has just published an excellent new book on fiscal policy. Edited by Philip Booth, Taxation, Government Spending, & Economic Growth is must reading for those who want to understand the deleterious impact of the modern welfare state.
The IEA’s Director General, Mark Littlewood, explains the goal in the book’s foreword.
Today, I also want to share some good news, though it’s not nearly as momentous.
Indeed, it’s not even good news. Instead, it’s just that some bad news isn’t as bad as it used to be.
I’m referring to the fact that the nation’s capital region used to be home to 10 of the nation’s 15-richest counties.
That was back in 2012, and I viewed it as a terrible sign that the DC area was packed with overpaid bureaucrats, oleaginous rent seekers, and government cronies, all of whom were enjoying undeserved wealth financed by hard-working taxpayers from the rest of America.
Well, now for the “good news.”
Terry Jeffrey has a column for CNS News about the current concentration of wealth in the national capital area.
Within the next week, UC Berkeley will be forced to remove over 20,000 lectures, videos, and other digital documents from its free online library. While the prestigious school has been generous in making its electronic resources available to the public, a violation of the Americans with Disability Act has left the University with no other choice but to remove the online archive in its entirety.
We are currently living in a golden age of information, where the internet has provided the world with limitless sources of learning without ever having to leave the comfort of home. Like many institutions of higher education, including many other Ivy League schools, UC Berkeley has contributed to open source learning by sharing its curricula and other materials to online platforms like YouTube and iTunes, as well as its own site.
Many of our entitlement programs were created based on the assumption that we would always have an expanding population, as represented by a population pyramid. …however, we’ve seen major changes in demographic trends, including longer lifespans and falling birthrates. The combination of these two factors means that our population pyramid is slowly, but surely, turning into a population cylinder. …this looming shift in America’s population profile means massive amounts of red ink as the baby boom generation moves into full retirement.
What’s Going On?
According to a recent news report, he’s not a big fan of outlays for foreign aid.
The White House budget director confirmed Saturday that the Trump administration will propose “fairly dramatic reductions” in the U.S. foreign aid budget later this month.
…news outlets reported earlier this week that the administration plans to propose to Congress cuts in the budgets for the U.S. State Department and Agency for International Development by about one third.
Simply stated, I fear that Italy, along with certain other “Club Med” nations, has passed the point of no return in terms of big government, demographic decline, and societal dependency.
And this means that, sooner or later, the proverbial wheels are going to fall off the bus. And it might be sooner.
On Shaky Ground
I don’t always agree with his policy recommendations, but I regularly read Desmond Lachman of the American Enterprise Institute because he is one of the best-informed people in Washington on the fiscal and economic mess in Europe.
And Italy, to be blunt, is in a mess.
Here’s what Desmond just wrote about the country’s economy.
It should be possible to separate Pinochet's murders from the economic reforms he undertook.
Yet socialism is very much alive in the least likely place – Chile. Chile, the poster child for the benefits of economic liberalization, is experiencing a resurgence of the Left. Why? To answer that question, let us look at the state of affairs in both countries.
Chile was one of the poorer Latin American countries until relatively recently. In 1950, for example, its average annual income per capita (PPP) was a mere 38 per cent of that of Venezuela – Latin America’s richest nation. That’s where things stood, when a Castro-inspired socialist, Salvador Allende, was elected as Chile’s 30th president in November 1970.
Markets Survive in Venezuela
The shadow economy refers to more than just the trade of illegal goods. A grey market, for example, provides legal products distributed through illegal channels. Since basic things like toilet paper, medicine, and even food have disappeared from store shelves in Venezuela, the peer-to-peer network has become the only reliable way to secure life’s necessities. In desperate situations like this, the existence of independent merchants can mean the difference between life and death.