06 December 2016

On the Record | Government Is the Cause of “Brexit-Trump Syndrome”

Please see my latest post for the Quarterly Review, ‘Government Is the Cause of “Brexit-Trump Syndrome”’:

The Powers That Be never fail to demonstrate why they have earned the enmity of the average citizen. Bound up in a cocoon of self-satisfaction and self-denial, their political coup de grâce cannot come soon enough. This self-important élite are flummoxed by the people’s revolt in Britain and America, known respectively as Brexit and the Trump movement. A recent column dispatched from the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science amply displays their continuing bewilderment.

Coining the term ‘Brexit-Trump Syndrome’, British academics Michael Jacobs and Mariana Mazzucato claim that an inability to understand economic reality explains why average working-class citizens, who suffered lost jobs and wages and failed to bounce back from the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-09 (despite billions spent in stimulus schemes), voted either to exit the European Union or put Donald Trump in the White House. Both described as ‘disastrous’ socio-economic choices. The implications drawn are that people were duped into voting against their financial interests. Au contraire.

To counter such continuing nostrums leading to government and economic failure, there is no better guide forward to liberty and prosperity than John Stuart Mill.

Read more . . .

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My thanks to editor Dr Leslie Jones of the Quarterly Review.

24 November 2016

On the Record | Trump Tariff Threat Gains Tactical Victory in Kentucky

Please see my first wire for The American Spectator, ‘Trump Tariff Threat Gains Tactical Victory in Kentucky’:

A mere fortnight after becoming President-elect, Donald Trump’s tariff threat gained a tactical victory in the battle to keep American jobs at home.

Trump announced via Twitter that Ford Motor Company intentions to transfer SUV production south of the border were shelved. Chairman Bill Ford “advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky — no Mexico,” Trump tweeted last Thursday.

“During his campaign, Trump was relentless in his criticism of Ford for planning to move all its North American small-car production to Mexico,” Bloomberg reported, “where wages are 80 percent lower than in the U.S.” Critics argued that Ford had intended to relocate only the Lincoln MKC but, in response to the tweet, “the company acknowledged for the first time it had been considering moving production of the MKC to Mexico” following the expiration of the union contract, albeit to allow Ford to focus on its Escape model which outsells Lincoln, 12-to-1.

Nevertheless, Trump supporters, Kentucky politicians, and union members rejoice at the news. But this is only the beginning. The company issued a statement that the future of Ford production in America was contingent on the belief that “President-elect Trump and the new Congress will pursue policies that will improve U.S. competitiveness.” And therein lies the rub, for producers and consumers alike.

Read more . . .

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My thanks to editors Wlady Pleszczynski and F.H. Buckley of The American Spectator.

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DMI wishes its American friends a happy Thanksgiving Day!

18 November 2016

On the Record | Britain Itches for Freedom and a Trade Accord with Trump’s America

Please see my latest wire for The New York Sun, ‘Britain Itches for Freedom and a Trade Accord with Trump’s America’:

President-elect Trump is in like Flynn with America’s most enduring “special relationship.” For though his electoral victory is the cause of protests at home and unease at European capitals, “Mr. Brexit” basks in favorable reviews from the British government. Small wonder. Both nascent administrations swept to office on a wave of anti-establishment populism.

Leading the welcoming party are Brexiteers who spearheaded efforts to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union and regain the sovereign powers it had ceded to the continent. UKIP’s former leader, Nigel Farage, calls Mr. Trump “instinctively Anglophile;” Britain’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson is urging EU colleagues to cease their “collective whinge-o-rama” and accept the incoming American administration. Mr. Johnson, himself New-York born, betrayed affinities for across the pond when he christened the June 23 vote for Brexit Britain’s “Independence Day.”

Prime Minister May, in an address earlier this week at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, echoed an openness to Trump. Mrs. May, who became premier when her pro-EU predecessor David Cameron resigned following the vote for British independence, began by noting their joint brash rise to high office: she, to “forge a bold, new confident future for ourselves in the world;” Mr. Trump, “who defied the polls and the pundits all the way up to election day itself.”

So 2016 is the year of change politics and “when people demand change, it is the job of politicians to respond.” Mrs. May has reason to sympathize with Mr. Trump, as both will be contending with obstructionists.

Read more . . .

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My thanks to editor Seth Lipsky of The New York Sun.

05 November 2016

On the Record | Trump Awakens the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Please see my latest post for the Quarterly Review, ‘Trump Awakens the Entrepreneurial Spirit’:

Businessmen don’t understand politics. Success in the marketplace doesn’t necessarily follow in the political arena. Early criticism of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign were variations on this theme, from the first day he rode down the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy. How that tune has changed. Trump’s business acumen may prove his greatest political asset to an America that elects him president.

He may be learning on the fly the science of politics, but Trump instinctively comprehends the craft of intuiting the people’s discontent and offering them an alternative to the Capitol Hill duopoly. Whether on illegal immigration, terrorist threats, endless wars, or disappearing jobs, Trump reads the American mood like the practised pols of old. What he lacks in sophistication he more than compensates with gut instinct.

His outsider status is Trump’s self-proclaimed ace card — he’s not a politician but he understands how they operate, since he’s been negotiating with them all his life as a mega-developer. It’s these transformative skills that he exploits in his White House bid. ‘I’ve been very lucky. I’ve led a great life,’ he told an audience Sunday in Greeley, Colorado. ‘Now I want to give back to the country which has been so good to me.’

Read more . . .

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It may surprise that a student of the political careers of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, and Sir John A. Macdonald would take such a dim view of protectionism. I simply refer you to 19thcentury French economic journalist Frédéric Bastiat’s Economic Sophisms and his rigorous deconstruction of the protectionist argument.

With respect to Donald Trump and his policy of border tariffs, as I suggest in this article (and my two columns to which I link), Trump has offered two alternative methods of addressing American business decline: an end to global currency manipulation and entrepreneurial innovation.

And it is Trump’s appeal to the entrepreneur and to the ‘law of markets’ in which ‘demand is constituted by supply’ where great opportunity lies.

So my approach has been much like Kennedy’s attitude to Khrushchev’s conflicting messages during the Cuban Missile Crisis: ignore the one full of bluster and bellicosity, and focus instead on the note promising hope and a way forward. Take Trump’s protectionist threat as a negotiating bid with other nations (and U.S. industries) while defending and encouraging his call to entrepreneurs.

Conservative essayist Joseph Sobran limned the political divide between nomocracy with its simple plan to enforce the ‘rule of law’ and teleocracy with its vision of the perfect society to foist upon an unsuspecting public.

Donald Trump is, in my view, a nomocrat, as evidenced by his ‘America First’ presidential campaign. As such, he should be criticised when he errs and, if elected President, be subject to the checks and balances of American constitutional federalism; but Trump should also be praised when in the right and given all the support and assistance of the American people.

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My thanks to editor Dr Leslie Jones of the Quarterly Review.

29 October 2016

On the Record | Trump’s Off-Hand Aside on State Competition Opens a Door on Policy

Please see my latest wire for The New York Sun, ‘Trump’s Off-Hand Aside on State Competition Opens a Door on Policy’:

Give The Donald his due: rarely is there a dull moment at a Trump rally. Last night at Geneva, Ohio, he ruminated on his “America First” economic policy. Mr. Trump returned to his protectionist message that companies moving manufacturing jobs out of country would be subject to a 35% tariff at the border. The he added a twist with the potential to reshape American enterprise.

“Our good jobs are going to other countries. So we’re going to stop it. It’s not even hard to stop it. And when they know there is that kind of a consequence, they’re not leaving, they’re staying,” Trump reiterated. Then, almost nonchalantly, he added: “They may go to a different State, and that’s different. Right? But they’re staying, they’re staying in our country.”

In a stroke of ostensibly unconscious genius, he recast a problematic policy into the promise of voluntary interstate competition, shorn of federal coercion. Free marketeers have always chafed at Mr. Trump’s protectionist program, which goes against every laisser-faire tenet of free trade, comparative advantage, and consumer choice. Yet they were faced with the fact that jobs were fleeing to foreign jurisdictions, leaving displaced American workers with few alternatives.

Mr. Trump assuaged these misgivings by focusing on currency manipulation, promising to bring forward legislation against Communist China and marking the Federal Reserve’s own easy money policies for contributing to what he calls in America a “false economy.” The limits of this demarche in enthusing voters were evident. Something more, to capture the imagination and spirit of American initiative, is needed.

Read more . . .

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My thanks to editor Seth Lipsky of The New York Sun.