18 October 2016

On the Record | Clinton’s Pledge on Debt Emerges as a Risible Claim

Please see my latest wire for The New York Sun, ‘Clinton’s Pledge on Debt Emerges as a Risible Claim’:

A risible headline comes courtesy of Hillary Clinton. “I am not going to add a penny to the national debt,” she promises. Raucous readers are permitted a moment to compose themselves.

Let’s be generous and take the former secretary of state at her word. Seriously. How does she plan to pay for the largesse of her presidential platform, be it infrastructure and research spending, enriching ObamaCare, subsidizing college — among other emoluments to its base?

Vote-buying is an art form among Democrats, who no longer camouflage the contours of their platform, summarized as any number of “soak the rich” vendettas, targeted through income, capital gains, corporate, or inheritance tax hikes. “We’re going to go where the money is,” Mrs. Clinton admits in a restatement of what is called “Sutton’s law,” after Willie “The Actor” Sutton. “We’re going to make the wealthy pay their fair share.”

Without doubt, a cheer erupts from Mrs. Clinton’s constituency, exulting over their supremacy over “the other,” ignorant that no one escapes the consequences of tax increases, the poor and middle class least of all. Revenge is a dish best served as cold comeuppance.

Read more . . .


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

11 October 2016

On the Record | Trump’s Churchill Moment

Please see my latest post for the Quarterly Review, ‘Trump’s Churchill Moment’:

Donald Trump ‘explained’ Churchill to me. And, after the first Trump-Clinton presidential debate, Churchill reciprocated the favour.

The fame of Sir Winston Churchill, who served in several Cabinet offices and was twice prime minister, left me cold, for which I harboured feelings of shame and regret. His life and times certainly fascinated, but I was by no means a Churchill aficionado. Why did I not revere this Conservative hero as so many others did? Why did I not honour him as the greatest statesman of the twentieth century?

Definitely the man had a flair with words — his political speeches are highly quotable and his numerous biographies and histories written with a compelling simplicity. Indeed, Churchill was awarded the 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature for his multi-volume histories of the Second World War and of the ‘English-Speaking Peoples’.

Yet his political record was chequered. In 1900, Churchill entered Parliament as a Conservative representative, crossing the floor four years later to join the pro-free-trade Liberals. Not to be outdone, he re-crossed — and re-joined the Conservatives in 1924, saying famously: ‘Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat.’

Fluid party identity was the least of Churchill’s sins. His achievements in government were blemished by failure: inept tactical planning during World War I; returning post-war sterling to the gold standard at unrealistic convertibility; helping to precipitate the General Strike; opposing independence for India; and even losing the 1945 election after denouncing Clement Attlee’s Labour platform for requiring ‘Gestapo-like’ measures. Oxford historian and sometime Tory MP, the late Robert Rhodes James, in his Churchill: A Study in Failure, 1900–1939, chronicled the general public’s ambivalent assessment of Sir Winston’s early career. Why, I wondered still, the universal acclaim?

Read more . . .


The wire above was written before the release of Trump’s ‘locker room’ comments Friday (eleven years after they were caught on a ‘hot mic’) and before his stupendous second debate Sunday night against Hillary Clinton. Public support remains firm.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted after the remarks were leaked ‘found that 74 percent of Republican voters said GOP leaders should stick by Mr. Trump’, The Washington Times recounts, while ‘about 41 percent told the pollsters that they would be more likely to support a candidate who continued to back Mr. Trump.’

Meanwhile, following Sunday’s debate, a ‘stunning’ new poll ‘showed Donald Trump has reclaimed the lead from Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton,’ The Times reports, ‘becoming the latest survey to suggest the GOP presidential nominee has put a bad month behind him.’ This latest CNN/ORC tally shows Trump enjoying a ‘2-percentage point lead in a national four-way race among likely voters’, with Republicans ‘likeliest to vote’ supporting Trump by 90 percent.

The ‘movement’ rolls on . . .


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

03 October 2016

On the Record | British Tribune of Trade Could Steal the March on Trump’s Protectionism

Please see my latest wire for The New York Sun, ‘British Tribune of Trade Could Steal the March on Trump’s Protectionism’:

Britain after Brexit is wasting no time announcing to the trading world it is open for business. Minister of International Trade Liam Fox speaks of free trade with an optimism that must inspire envy in America’s market conservatives. Who can imagine government praising the virtues of free trade?

Economic growth, Mr. Fox asserts, is supported by three pillars of market freedom. One is liberty of trade, unshackled from state interference, since “the idea that governments should restrict the right of individuals to exchange their hard work for goods and services at an agreed price in an open market is one of the gravest infringements of personal liberty.”

Two is entrepreneurship, where “competition leads to innovation” that in turn “powers progress.” Three is competitive advantage, whereby markets “specialise in the production of goods where they have the greatest efficiency.”

Read more . . .


My thanks to editor Seth Lipsky of The New York Sun whose encouragement acts as a necessary inducement to write.

27 September 2016

On the Record | Let the States Roar

Please see my latest post for the Quarterly Review, ‘Let the States Roar’:

Notice is given from its ‘Constitutional Affairs’ department that ‘The New York Sun . . . opposes a balanced budget amendment.’

The justification cannot be that The Sun favours deficit spending, for the broadsheet prides itself as a tribune for limited government, fiscal probity, and sound money — grounded on the Gold Standard.

An awareness of the speed of unforeseen circumstances is one likely scenario for the editorial stance: allowing for contingency language written into a balanced budget amendment to take into account war or domestic necessity requiring its temporary suspension, The Sun may reason that even such foresight would frustrate government efficacy.

This observer can only speculate. But one germane objection to a constitutionally mandated balanced budget arises in relation to criticism of the supply-side economic revolution of the 1980s. While true that lowering high marginal tax rates can increase government revenues — the famous Laffer Curve axiom — such tax reform itself is not conclusive of prudent government policy. No responsible tax proposal comes without its corollaries: limited government and budgetary restraint.

Read more . . .


My thanks to editor Dr Leslie Jones of the Quarterly Review; and my appreciation to Foundation for Economic Education president, Lawrence Reed, for his assistance to me in framing America’s indebtedness.

22 September 2016

On the Record | Trump Rallies Entrepreneurial Spirit to Restore the American Dream

A golden-haired hero arrived in Toledo, Ohio, Wednesday last to rescue the American Dream. Donald J. Trump is its paladin: “We’re going to have this economy work again for you.”

The spirit that shook thirteen colonies to independence and catapulted a nation to world-power status a mere century later will rise again. Anæmic growth and stagnant employment will come to an end, he promised, by unleashing the competitive initiative held in check by government red tape.

Please see my latest posting for the American Thinker, ‘Rallying the entrepreneurial spirit’:

The guardians of economic orthodoxy took issue with Trump from the beginning, whether it was his tariff threat against foreign imports or his promise to penalize manufacturers who moved industries out of country. Classical economists, from Smith to Ricardo to Mill and beyond, had demonstrated that Western civilization was built upon the foundations of division of labor and the law of comparative advantage. How did Trump imagine he could “make America great again” when he flouted the free trade principles responsible for said greatness?

Over the summer Trump redeemed himself. He focused on currency manipulation as a key component of unfair foreign competition -- hand-in-hand with incompetent American trade negotiators -- while taking aim at high taxes, regulatory burdens, and Federal Reserve chicanery among the factors contributing to President Obama and the Democrat Party’s “false economy.”

“The contrast between the presidential contenders could not be starker,” writes Trump economic advisor Lawrence Kudlow. “Mr. Trump has an economic-recovery-and-prosperity plan. Mrs. Clinton has an austerity-recession plan.”

Read more . . .


My thanks to the editors at the American Thinker.


With the arrival of the autumnal equinox, it’s that time of year again to recommend the quintessential fall film, The Trouble with Harry.

Starring John Forsythe and Shirley MacLaine, Edmund Gwenn and Mildred Natwick, with a young Jerry Mathers, director Alfred Hitchcock set this 1955 classic in a Vermont countryside bursting with a riot of colour.

Part mystery, part romantic comedy, this film is an excellent way to welcome the arrival of autumn — when the air is crisp, the leaves turn, and gilded sunlight throws long shadows, you’re sure to be humming Bernard Hermann’s wonderful score in anticipation.

(Trailer below to whet your interest; once hooked, enjoy this complete YouTube video of The Trouble with Harry.)