Free Trade

Ex-Im Is The “Face of Cronyism,” Says Jeb Hensarling

Crony capitalism is America’s disease and the real problem with the modern perception of capitalism that most of the left likes to use against capitalism itself, without discerning between what voluntary trade and free markets can accomplish and what crony capitalism actually is all about.

It’s very easy to find perfect examples of crony capitalism in the age of President Barack Obama.

One of these perfect examples has been relying on taxpayer money to subsidize financial incentives destined to foreign companies that purchase U.S. exports: the Export-Import Bank.

The agency’s charter expires in 2014, making now the perfect time for opponents of crony capitalism to raise their objections to the agency’s upcoming congressional renewal. Heritage’s The Foundry talked to Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) about the Export-Import Bank and why he thinks that the federal export-subsidy agency should not be allowed to stay in business.

“Liberals Have No Idea How Capitalism Works” Says Rand Paul

Listening to lawmakers talk about the economy when they do not understand the mechanisms behind capitalism can be quite frustrating. Too often, they are unaware of how the system works and why it gives rise to affordable services and products, making trade and the distribution of several products, from basic to valuable items, accessible to nearly almost every American.

But every now and then, a legislator comes along to prove that they weren’t only elected to brag about passing complicated laws on national television.

Sean Hannity had Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) as a guest on his show to ask him a few questions regarding ObamaCare, the problematic Health Insurance Marketplace website and why Americans are appalled to have learned that their insurance premiums are actually much higher now than they were before the law kicked in.

According to Sen. Paul “if you mandate what is included in your insurance policy, if you say it has to cover all kinds of new things that haven’t been covered, it has to be more expensive,” which is why so many young and healthy people are quickly discovering that their coverage is much more expensive than before. While the Obama administration is attempting to give access to health coverage to every single American through ObamaCare, the final cost was apparently never taken into consideration.

The administration keeps repeating that people will now get better coverage without having to pay as much, but consumers are slowly learning that that is simply untrue, since all they have access to is insurance premiums offering excessive coverage that do not fit their budget.

Can this Marriage be Saved: Libertarians and the GOP

Republicans

Conventions aren’t just about the present, conventions are also about the future. As the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa draws to a close, one of the most important questions for the party going forward is what role – if any – will libertarians play in the direction of the GOP in the years ahead.

Congressman Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign for the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination helped to launch the modern day liberty movement and gave voice to libertarians within the Republican Party.

The rise of the Tea Party and a second Paul Republican Presidential run gave the libertarian wing of the party hope for the future and increased visibility.

As Paul’s popularity grew in the party, so did the tension between the libertarian wing of the GOP and the party’s establishment. Many in the establishment would have you believe that the tension was more about the behavior of Ron Paul’s supporters than about policy. While there is no doubt that Ron Paul has an intensely loyal and fervent following, the truth is the tension wasn’t about behavior – it was about policy.

Libertarians want an end to foreign adventurism, they want deep cuts in spending across the board (including the military), they want government out of the boardrooms and the bedrooms, they want dramatic tax reform (starting with throwing out the current tax code), they want to privatize social security and Medicare, and they want a return to sound money.

The policy differences between libertarians and the current GOP are real and they are significant. The question going forward is whether this marriage can be saved?

Profiles in Liberty: Professor Peter Boettke of George Mason University

Professor Peter Boettke is a University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University; the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism, Vice President for Research, and Director of the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at GMU.

In The Wall Street Journal, Bruce Caldwell, an editor of F.A. Hayek’s work, said Prof. Boettke has done more for Austrian economics than anyone in the last decade.

Boettke’s new book Living Economics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is published by the Independent Institute.  When not in the classroom, he shares his great insight and wit on his blog, Coordination Problem.

Boettke

Who Has The Party Delegates?

What all the GOP candidates are after, are so-called ‘delegates.’Elected officials that will broker the convention of either party this fall. Officials are parcelled by the amount of votes, the candidates receive in the primary.

During Michigan’s primary recently, for instance, there were 30 official delegates, state-wide. Two were ‘at-large’ candidates, which meant they could be assigned individually to any winning candidate. The other 28 were ‘proportional’ ones, alotted through 14 congressional districts. During the push for the nominations in Michigan last night, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spent millions of dollars to influence the voting population; with TV ads, pamphlets, media, interviews, rallies, stickers, and much more. Michigan’s grand sum of politcal expenditure was near six million bucks.

Delegates are what really counts at the GOP convention. What looks to be happening, is that no clear winner will come out victorious. There’s a righteous number: 1444 delegates will win any nominee the victory-nod of the Republican National Committee. Nationwide, 2169 delegates are extended for contestation, until the RNC celebration in Tampa, Florida. From the RN Committee, an additional 117 delegates are added into the mix, ostensibly to keep debate lively and clear-up dead locks. So what appears, on first looks, to be a rather hot-headed and fast paced Republican rocket-launch to the RNC, is more like a jammed or misfired pistol in a duel.

Momentarily, Mitt Romney is in the lead, with 167 total delegates. Rick Santorum is second with roughly half, at 87. Newt Gingrich won only one state and has 32, while Ron Paul has 19 carefully collected delegations. The count may reshuffle at any moment, since constitutionalism and populism together, ring alarm-bells in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Biggest lies of ‘11?

Well reading Foreign Policy for that North Korean blog entry, I came across “The 14 Biggest Lies of 2011,” by David J. Rothkopf. I like list articles a lot; lots of information, in a very short time span, and gets you to focus on them. Sometimes, lists are completely, totally wrong; other times they are spot on; and in this case, it’s quite mixed. I want to offer some rebuttals to a few of his items, because they seem, to me, to be wildly inaccurate. Perhaps they are lies, but his own answers to them are not exactly encouraging. I will only focus on that we disagree on, to save space, but do read the entire list. I actually find it rather humorous…in a morbid sort of way.

I will start out by agreeing 100% with his introduction, however, that in DC, that lying is not an art form, but rather “is more reflexive, like breathing or taking cash from fat cats.” It is nothing but a pit of lies, and the Great Obamessiah himself is one of the best of them. All for civil liberties and ending the wars while running for president, not so much when he actually got into office. What a shame.

But onto Mr. Rothkopf’s list:

6 - “America is unthreatened by China’s growth.”

VIDEO: Free Trade vs. Protectionism

Welcome, Instapundit readers!

The folks over at Learn Liberty bring a new lesson from George Mason University economist Donald J. Boudreaux (who blogs at Cafe Hayek) on free trade and protectionism as matters of policy, and their impacts on wealth creation:

Protectionism today comes in the form of Buy American restrictions (which were reinforced in the so-called stimulus bill), whose proponents argue that forcing manufacturers to produce goods using inputs created by American firms, or that the government buy/contract goods and services solely from American firms through its procurement process, will help preserve and create jobs at home.

Protectionist Tries Redefining Free Trade

Knowing there is no legitimate case for protectionism, its proponents are now attempting to define free trade as something that it is not. Writing for Salon, David Sirota says:

Trade policy, as I’ve previously noted, often has nothing to do with what we conventionally define as “trade” — that is, it has nothing to do with the exchange of goods and services, and everything to do with using state power to solidify corporations’ supremacy over individual citizens. In that sense, the modern era’s ongoing debates over “free trade” are a corporate public relations coup — by tricking the public and the media into believing we’re debating one thing (commerce) when we’re debating something entirely different (power), the “free trade” brand casts those who raise questions about these pacts as know-nothing Luddites (who could be against commerce, right?).

Oddly, Sirota offers no further support for his claim that free trade uses “state power to slidify coporations’ suppremacy over individual citizens” nor does he even clarify precisely what it is he means. It appears as though he is content to level that charge and move on to a different subject:

…In creating direct unprotected competition between Americans and foreign workers who have no labor, wage or human rights protections, the most celebrated trade pacts of the last two decades have — quite predictably — resulted in widespread layoffs and the hollowing out of America’s middle class job base.

A Defense of the Free Market

One of the most common refrains from the political left and the media is that, regarding the economy, conservatives advocate for unchecked freedom for big business to do whatever it wants to do, and for no government interference with business at all. These assertions stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of conservatism.

For the conservative, the issue comes down to the proper role of government. To have no government at all is anarchy, and certainly no conservative would argue that. So the question is not whether or not there should be government involvement (there should), but what level of government involvement is appropriate.

When we look at the biggest financial scandals of the last decade (Enron, WorldCom, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, etc.), they all have one thing in common. At some point, whether through active complicity or negligence, government played a huge role in allowing the scandals to occur. And with every scandal, it becomes an excuse, or rather an imperative, to increase the level of government involvement to keep it from occurring again.

Some of the major scandals have occurred because the regulatory oversight assigned to one government agency or another was either inadequately enforced, or government employees were co-opted into the fraudulent scheme. Others occur because our statutory and regulatory law has become so complex that it is inevitable that a crafty thief will be able to find technical loopholes that fulfill the letter of the law while being contradictory to the clear intent of the law. Either way, we continue to add layer after layer of government bureaucracy, regulation and complexity, and yet the scandals keep getting more and more expensive. That is because the more complex the law, the easier it is to find a technical Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card.

On Drugs And Immigrants, We Either Believe In Freedom Or We Don’t

Those who affiliate themselves, either casually or intensely, with the right wing of the political spectrum need to seriously look themselves in the mirror as regards our policies toward our southern neighbors.

On immigration and the War on Drugs, nativism and paternalism seem to be the dominant fundamentalisms of those who most frequently espouse a fondness for freedom and liberty. On immigration especially, nativism goes directly against not only what America is, a nation of immigrants, but against the beacon of liberty that conservative icon Ronald Reagan characterized America as:

Robinson correctly observes that Reagan would have had nothing to do with the anger and inflamed rhetoric that so often marks the immigration debate today. “Ronald Reagan was no kind of nativist,” he concludes, noting that Reagan was always reaching out to voters beyond the traditional Republican base, including the fast-growing Hispanic population.

It’s worth remembering that Reagan signed the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which opened the door to citizenship for nearly 3 million people who had been living in the country illegally. Robinson is confident Reagan would have supported the kind of comprehensive immigration reform championed by President George W. Bush and approved by the Senate in 2006.

This will seem quite harsh, but I will say it frankly and succinctly: If you think that a child born in this country but the parents of illegal immigrants should be deported, you don’t believe in freedom. You believe in something else; something antithetical to the beautiful message which adorns the Statue of Liberty:


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