‘Nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action,
but not the execution of any human design.’
Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767)

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 . . .


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