By Chris Rossini
The ideas of 'protectionism' and 'mercantilism' are not new. They have ruined countless economies throughout history. Donald Trump did not make these ideas up. Sadly, however, he has embraced them to a large extent. The idea of trade being a zero-sum game where there are winners and losers is deeply flawed.
This flaw appears in one of Trump's latest Tweets, where he writes:
China has been taking out massive amounts of money & wealth from the U.S. in totally one-sided trade, but won't help with North Korea. Nice!
Let's put the topic of North Korea and foreign policy aside and focus on the trade aspect of the statement.
China is not "taking" anything from Americans. The Chinese have no taxing power over the American citizen. To tax is to take by force, and we all know who taxes Americans into the dirt, right?
The U.S. federal government.
They're the takers, and they take trillions of dollars out of American pockets every year. Oftentimes, the money never even reaches our pockets. That's one area where the government manages to be very efficient. It's fantastic at snuffing away the fruits of your labor before you can even see it!
The U.S. federal government doesn't stop there of course. They also bury Americans in trillions of dollars of debt as well. Unborn Americans have an albatross ready for their necks the moment they take their first breath on Earth.
So let's establish first that it is not the Chinese who are vacuuming up America's wealth. It's the leviathan in Washington D.C.
Unfortunately, Trump never talks about this. He's not a limited-government guy. He's not a small-government guy. He never mentions the words 'liberty' or 'freedom' from leviathan. He's just interested in pushing the buttons and being what George W. Bush called himself..."The Decider".
As the new "Decider," Trump wisely wants to avoid confrontation with Russia, but nuclear China seems to be his chosen target, or at least one of them. (Can we maybe not poke at a nuclear power someday? Or is that asking too much?)
So instead of Putin being the foreign villain that we all must despise and fear, it's China. Trump paints them as thieves who take our money in "one-sided trade." This makes no sense. There is no such thing as "one-sided trade". Trade always consists of two sides.
When two parties trade with one another, they value what they're receiving more than what they are giving up. This applies to both sides, and it applies all the time.
So when you go to a retailer and exchange money for a product that's made in China (or anywhere) you're expressing (by your actions) that you value the product more than the money that you're trading away. Likewise, the retailer values the money more than the product that they are selling you. Both parties win! Both parties get something that they value more than what they are giving up.
Voluntary trade is not a zero-sum game with winners and losers. There are only winners!
The fact that the goods come from China, or Mexico, or Timbuktu makes no difference whatsoever. The more voluntary trade that takes place, the more win-win situations there are. So why the fuss about trading with people in another country? Should you only trade with people in your own country, or state? How about your own neighborhood? Or what if a "Decider" someday proposes that you're only able to trade with people that live on your street?
People are people, no matter where they are from. Trade is peaceful exchange. If you don't want to trade with anyone, you're free to refuse. No person acts like a barbaric government that just takes what it wants.
Trade is civilized behavior.
Trump's ideas are backwards and harmful. The people that he has placed into his administration, like Peter Navarro, Wilbur Ross, and Robert Lighthizer are ready to implement terrible policies against the Chinese. So the table is set.
They'll get away with it if Americans let them, or worse, actually cheer them on.
Unfortunately, that looks like the path that will be chosen.
By Ron Paul
I applaud my son Senator Rand Paul and my friend Representative Thomas Massie for their leadership on the important issue of auditing the Federal Reserve. Audit the Fed is the type of change the American people demanded when they went to the polls last November.
For 105 years, the Federal Reserve has exercised almost absolute and unquestioned authority over America’s monetary policy. The result has been a boom-and-bust business cycle, growth in government, increasing income inequality, and a loss of over 90% of the dollar’s purchasing power. No wonder almost 80% of Americans support Audit the Fed!
While campaigning for President, Donald Trump not only criticized the Fed's easy money policies, he also endorsed Audit the Fed. With a President who supports Audit the Fed finally sitting in the White House, Congress has no excuse to not quickly pass this bill and finally let the American people know the truth about the Fed’s conduct on monetary policy, including its dealings with foreign governments and central banks.
My Campaign for Liberty is going to mobilize a pro-Audit the Fed majority to make 2017 the year when the Fed’s wall of secrecy is finally torn down.
This was originally published at Campaign for Liberty.
President-elect Trump has already gotten tough with three US manufacturing giants, warning that there will be financial penalties for building plants abroad. Will strong-arming these companies succeed in bringing jobs back home?
By Ryan McMaken
Colorado was among the four states where voters approved a minimum wage hike in November. Among the specific provisions for the new wage hike was the stipulation that tipped workers — such as waiters who receive tips and are paid below the standard minimum wage — will receive a mandated wage hike of 99 cents.
Naturally, this will lead to an increase in costs for restaurant owners who will then seek to raise prices and/or reduce costs. KDVR in Denver reports:
Kanatzer owns The Airplane Restaurant in Colorado Springs and said he has already increased his kids menu prices. ...
Raising prices can only go so far, however. Contrary to what many non-economists seem to believe, it is not possible to simply "pass on the extra cost to customers." As any economics-major undergraduate knows, it is only possible to pass on a portion of the increased cost to the customer because higher prices and competition from other firms will lead to fewer sales if the owner simply attempts to "pass on the cost." And even if all restaurants are subject to the same wage hike, there are always substitutes in the form of take-out and other types of dining.
Specifically, in response to the forced wage hike we can expect to see more food-service business go the way of so-called "fast casual dining" which include brands such as Chipotle and Noodles and Company. These are restaurants where patrons order food at the counter, and then take their food to their tables themselves. These places often offer alcoholic beverages and higher-quality food than "fast food" places such as McDonalds, and somewhat approximate the "casual dining" experience at lower cost thanks to the elimination of servers.
Thus, in order to control costs, restaurants that have in past hired wait staff will become more like fast casual restaurants. The KDVR report suggests exactly this, in fact:
Kanatzer estimates most restaurants will adjust prices and change staffing levels as a result, which could mean fewer servers and longer waits.
So, we should expect restaurants to hire fewer servers and move toward more counter service and use of technology to replace servers.
Some waiters have become concerned that the new wage hike is endangering their jobs. They should be concerned:
Even some servers who are recipients of the pay raise fear possible impacts.
The effect on workers will be that many of them will need to move to lower-wage jobs due to there being fewer waiter opportunities. Many people who are now waiters and potential waiters will have to take jobs as cashiers and other workers at fast food and fast casual restaurants instead of waiting tables. As anyone who has worked in food service knows, these sorts of jobs often pay far less per hour than traditional waiter jobs. So, the minimum wage hike will mean an actual pay cut for many people who could have made more as waiters, were it not for the minimum wage hike.
Moreover, it means that in the future, waiter positions that might have existed in the absence of the minimum wage hike will never exist. More restaurants that rely on a large wait staff will change their model, close down, or never be opened at all, further cutting the job opportunities for workers who would benefit from working as waiters.
However, these unseen positions that never came into existence will not show up in any unemployment data, and thus the proponents of minimum wage hikes will claim that higher wages to not lead to less employment. The media will interview the lucky waiters who managed to keep their jobs and wait tables in an environment of higher prices — and higher tips. Competition for these remaining jobs will become more fierce meaning lower-skill waiters will find themselves locked out of waiter jobs. In the end, proponents of minimum wage hikes will declare victory and ignore all the unseen consequences imposed on the most vulnerable, unskilled, and marginal members of the workforce.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
So the Washington Post is going to lead the fight against fake news? Isn't that like putting the fox in the henhouse? Time and time again of late the WaPo is caught colluding with the US government to create fake news. Is the mainstream media having a nervous breakdown?
By Simon Black
Last week during a long overdue vacation, a close friend of mine recommended reading the autobiography of Rich DeVos called Simply Rich.
DeVos is a billionaire entrepreneur who started countless ventures during his nine decades on this earth.
Back in the 1946, for example, DeVos started an airline… virtually overnight.
He just bought an airplane and started flying people around. No rules. No regulations.
They didn’t even have an airport. The local airfield north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they were based, hadn’t been completed yet.
As DeVos recounts in his book, “We put pontoon floats on our plane and took off and landed on the Grand River, which ran along the airfield.”
His first office at the airfield was an old chicken coop that he found, washed in the river, and re-painted.
The following year he and his partner opened up one of Michigan’s first “Drive Through” restaurants at the airfield, catering to passengers, workers, flight students, and spectators who came by in the evenings just to marvel at the planes.
Again, no rules. No regulations.
They just saw an opportunity and went for it.
DeVos started another business selling ice cream; another offering fishing excursions on Lake Superior; and another delivering trucks cross-country.
The truck delivery business was one of the more interesting ones; it started when he was just a kid– someone asked him to drive two pickups from Grand Rapids to Bozeman, Montana.
There were no hotels or motels… or even interstates back then.
So DeVos and his friend had to zig-zag their way across corn fields to get there, sleeping on haystacks each night along the way.
The book is a hell of an adventure– a reminder of how free and unencumbered things used to be.
Back in America’s heyday, people succeeded based on their hard work, ingenuity, and willingness to take action.
They didn’t have to spend three years filling out paperwork so that some government bureaucracy could justify its existence.
It was an environment that created unparalleled opportunity and prosperity which, candidly, have long since faded.
Today there are rules for everything; in fact, just this morning, the US federal government published an astonishing 709 pages of new regulations.
And that’s just for today. They publish new regulations every single business day. So tomorrow there will be even more.
These rules make it more difficult to produce, to start a business, to sell a product or service to a willing consumer.
And these rules carry costs, whether it’s in paying a fee, filling out paperwork, etc.
So just imagine the effect that literally decades worth of rules and regulations has had on US productivity (which is now noticeably contracting, even according to government data.)
It’s also worth noting that roughly 30% of occupations in the Land of the Free now require some sort of government license.
In its study “License to Work”, the Institute for Justice reports that 45 out of 50 of the largest cities in the United States have put up substantial obstacles to prevent budding entrepreneurs from selling food from street carts.
A manicurist in Alabama requires 163 days of training, while a shampoo specialist at a Tennessee hair salon must undergo 70 days of training, take two exams, and pay $140 in fees to obtain a license.
Hawaii requires fire alarm installers to undergo a whopping four years of training, pass two exams, and pay $380 in fees to obtain a license.
And a tree trimmer in California must also undergo four years of training, pass two exams, and pay $851 in fees to obtain a license.
Nothing that Rich DeVos his partner accomplished in their teens and 20s is even legal anymore.
It makes me think about all the people today who will never have the chance to realize their full potential thanks to the mountain of regulations blocking their way.
This is an important point to understand.
Looking at the data– the incredible overregulation, $20 trillion in debt, insolvent pension funds, etc., it’s painfully obvious that the US is past its prime and holding back millions of people from achieving greater prosperity.
Rich DeVos started so many businesses back in the 1940s because the government stayed out of the way and enabled hard-working risk takers to succeed.
Today the government spends $2 billion to build a website and churns out hundreds of pages of regulations each day.
And this trend gets worse each year.
Understanding this simple reality doesn’t mean that you’re pessimistic, unpatriotic, or expecting the end of the world.
It just makes you rational.
Things change. That’s the bottom line.
The US is still a fantastic place. But it’s no longer the same Land of Opportunity it was when Rich DeVos was getting started.
As I’ve summarized before, the US is a great place to consume… but an increasingly difficult place to PRODUCE.
That imbalance has serious long-term consequences, which we are only starting to experience.
This article was originally published at Sovereign Man.
2016 was a great year for The Ron Paul Liberty Report! Thank you for watching on YouTube, listening on iTunes and reading on the website. We're looking forward to another year of work for the cause of Liberty. Please enjoy some of the highlights of 2016.
By Ron Paul
As the US mainstream media obsessed last week about Russia's supposed “hacking” of the US elections and President Obama’s final round of Russia sanctions in response, something very important was taking place under the media radar. As a result of a meeting between foreign ministers of Russia, Iran, and Turkey last month, a ceasefire in Syria has been worked out and is being implemented. So far it appears to be holding, and after nearly six years of horrible warfare the people of Syria are finally facing the possibility of rebuilding their lives.
What is so important about this particular ceasefire? It was planned, agreed to, and implemented without the participation of the United States Government.
In fact it was frustration with Washington’s refusal to separate its “moderates” from terrorist groups and its continued insistence on regime change for the Syrian government that led the three countries to pursue a solution on their own for Syria. They also included the Syrian government and much of the opposition in the agreement, which the US government has been unwilling to do.
We have been told all along by the neocons and “humanitarian interventionists” that the United States must take a central role in every world crisis or nothing will ever be solved. We are the “indispensable nation,” they say, and without our involvement the world will collapse. Our credibility is on the line, they claim, and if we don’t step up no one will. All this is untrue, as we have seen last week.
The fact is, it is often US involvement in “solving” these crises that actually perpetuates them. Consider the 60-plus year state of war between North and South Korea. Has US intervention done anything to solve the problem? How about our decades of meddling in the Israel-Palestine dispute? Are we any closer to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians despite the billions we have spent bribing and interfering?
Non-intervention in the affairs of others does not damage US credibility overseas. It is US meddling, bombing, droning, and regime-changing that damages our credibility overseas. US obstruction in Syria kept the war going. As the Syrians and Russians were liberating east Aleppo from its four year siege by al-Qaeda, the Obama Administration was demanding a ceasefire. As Syrians began to move back into their homes in east Aleppo, the State Department continued to tell us that the Russians and Syrian government were slaughtering civilians for the fun of it.
So why all the media attention on unproven accusations of Russian hacking and President Obama’s predictable, yet meaningless response? The mainstream media does the bidding of Washington’s interventionists and they are desperate to divert attention from what may prove to be the beginning of the end of Syria’s long nightmare. They don’t want Americans to know that the rest of the world can solve its own problems without the US global policemen in the center of the action. When it is finally understood that we don’t need to be involved for crises to be solved overseas, the neocons will lose. Let’s hope that happens soon!
By Brandon Smith
Cognitive dissonance is a powerful drug. It makes otherwise-very-intelligent people goofy and incoherent in their thinking and blinds them to certain realities that they should normally see right in front of their noses. I witness it all the time in the field of economics — a key piece of logic, a key fact that certain people absolutely refuse to take into account simply because they have a singular idea of how the world works and they cannot allow that idea to ever come into question. They would rather leap into a mental gymnastics routine worthy of an Olympic gold medal than examine the truth. And if you confront them on it, they’ll accuse YOU of being the one in denial.
This is how we ended up with the credit crisis and market crash of 2008/2009. This is how very few people saw the writing on the wall with Syria and ISIS and the fact that the funding and training of Islamic extremists by Western governments for the purpose of proxy insurgency might not be such a great concept. It is the reason why it took years for the mainstream to acknowledge the advent of the East/West paradigm, the same paradigm that alternative analysts warned about years in advance. This is why most mainstream AND alternative analysts completely discounted a successful Brexit referendum. And, it is why the vast majority of pundits could not even conceive of a Trump victory in 2016. I could write a list 20 pages long on all the geopolitical and fiscal developments most people missed because they were clinging to assumptions rather than evidence.
Unfortunately, the liberty movement is also sometimes vulnerable to such assumptions. The most dangerous of which revolve around the rise of President-elect Donald Trump.
I have seen endless theories over the past several months on all the ways in which the global elites would sabotage the Trump campaign. I believe the phrase “they will never allow him to win” was repeated in nearly every discussion on the election. The assumption in this instance was that Trump is “anti-establishment” and, therefore, a threat to the globalists. These are the same globalists that people also claimed would “rig the election,” or initiate a “coup” in the electoral college to stop a Trump presidency.
Of course, this never happened. So, a large percentage of the movement needs to question — why didn’t it happen? How did Trump win within a system we know has been rigged for decades?
You’ll hear hundreds of theories and rationalizations on Trump’s miraculous victory, but a reason you will almost never hear is also the most likely one: Trump won the election because he serves the interests of the establishment. Trump won because he is a fake.
This is not an idea that many liberty activists want to entertain. They were so repulsed by the proposition of Hillary Clinton taking the helm at the White House that they would have invested themselves in almost ANYONE running against her, even if they thought that candidate might be controlled opposition. However, not just anyone was fielded as a candidate; Trump was fielded, and for good reason. I predicted before the Republican and Democratic primaries that the final election would be between Trump and Clinton in my article Will A Trump Presidency Really Change Anything For The Better?, published in March, and here is a quote on why:
"The other ingenious aspect of the Trump campaign is really who he is running against — Hillary Clinton, a rabidly liberal candidate even more hated than Barack Obama. A candidate with a potentially serious criminal record and a penchant for an outright communistic world view far beyond that of Bernie Sanders. Those of us who have been in the writing field for a long time and have dabbled in fiction know that in order to create a fantastic hero, you must first put even more work into creating a fantastic villain. The hero is nothing without the villain.
The unmitigated horror inherent in the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency is like adding jet fuel to the Trump campaign. (And yes, I am assuming according to the results of the primaries so far that the final election will be between Trump and Clinton)."
My point back then as well as now is that without Clinton as the counter-party, Trump would not have garnered the political following he did. Any other Democratic candidate would not have galvanized conservatives so fervently. As I continued in my pre-primaries article:
“Donald Trump appears to be the perfect antithesis to Hillary Clinton. … the real question is, is Trump a reflection of the frustration and defiance of the conservative population, or, is he a clever ruse by the establishment to co-opt and placate the conservative population before we rebel?”
The staging of the 2016 election might have appeared to some people to be absolute chaos, but to me, it could not have been more perfectly scripted. In later articles covering the election I went on to give Trump a chance. I stated that I had little doubt that he would win the election and that this would be followed by an economic crisis, probably triggered early in his first term. Conservative movements would be set up as scapegoats for a crash the globalists had created. However, I believed it (marginally) possible that Trump was not aware of this strategy on the part of the elites. Today, I no longer hold this view.
The first and worst sign that Trump is not anywhere near “anti-establishment” has been his complete reversal of his original “drain the swamp” rhetoric. Trump is not only NOT draining the swamp that is the Washington D.C. and corporate elitist revolving door, he is adding even more creatures of varying ghoulishness. As Newt Gingrich, who describes himself as an outside adviser to Trump, recently stated:
“I’m told he now just disclaims that…” [Draining the swamp] “He now says it was cute, but he doesn’t want to use it anymore…”
There is a good reason why Trump no longer wants to use that particular slogan — his cabinet is now filled with the exact same elitists he used to slam along with the Washington establishment.
Trump first placed former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary. Goldman Sachs has a long history of insinuating its alumni into vital positions within government bodies dealing directly with the economy. Mnuchin is particularly troubling because of his ties to George Soros; Mnuchin used to work directly for George Soros at Soros Fund Management up until 2004.
Then, for those people that thought maybe Mnuchin was just an anomaly, Trump added Gary Cohn, president of Goldman Sachs, as the director of the National Economic Council.
Trump’s chief strategist and Breitbart executive Steve Bannon is also a former Goldman Sachs investment banker.
It is interesting to note that over a quarter of the gains in the delusional Dow Jones spike after Trump’s election was tied to a rise in Goldman Sachs stock value. Imagine that…
Trump is also now “advised” on economic matters by the likes of JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon. Are we starting to get the picture here?
If that is not enough, then how about the fact that Trump is being closely advised by long time globalist Henry Kissinger (just as Vladimir Putin is advised by Kissinger)? I'm not sure why so many people are surprised by this arrangement; Trump was meeting with Kissinger months before the election. No matter the administration, there is ALWAYS a high level globalist behind the curtain. Barack Obama had Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Trump and Putin have Kissinger.
I won’t go into the numerous establishment Republicans that Trump has tapped for his administration, I will save that can of worms for another article, but anyone in the Liberty Movement that is not at least generally suspicious of Trump at this point is probably kidding themselves. The bottom line is, Trump has already LIED to his political base. He has surrounded himself with globalists and financial gatekeepers when he originally criticized Clinton for the same behavior. At this point, as long as he working in close proximity with such parasites there is no way for us to know if he is calling the shots, or if his handlers are making decisions for him.
I have heard it argued that Trump “has no choices” outside of D.C. insiders, which is why his cabinet is loaded with bottom feeders from Goldman Sachs. I find this argument rather naive. I would argue that there are thousands of brilliant professionals and people far more trustworthy outside of the beltway that could populate Trump’s cabinet and “make America great again.” I would even argue that ANY person with little experience inside the D.C. corruption chamber would be better suited to the job.
It seems to me that there are some activists that just can’t let go of the notion that Trump was the candidate the elites wanted all along. After all, didn’t the powers-that-be do everything in their power to try and stop him from winning the election?
Well, not really. The media firestorm surrounding Trump, though highly negative in tone, only boosted Trump’s exposure throughout the election. In fact, Trump received more coverage from outlets like CNN than all the other candidates combined.
This was the exact opposite tactic that the elitist controlled media used against true liberty candidate Ron Paul in 2012. With Paul, the media went out of their way to ignore him; they even refused to show a single Ron Paul campaign sign in a crowd if they could avoid it. This was a concerted systematic effort on the part of left AND right wing media outlets to ensure that no one outside of the internet heard about Ron Paul.
So what happened with Trump? Why did the mainstream media abandon a strategy that was very effective against Ron Paul, and why did they give Trump endless free coverage?
The elites also did not take very stringent measures to disrupt Trump’s candidacy early in the race. The Republican National Convention undertook a campaign of disinformation and rule changes in order to ensure that Ron Paul would have no chance of organizing an upset against establishment choice Mitt Romney. The same exact kind of treachery was used by the DNC in 2016 to sabotage Bernie Sanders — arguably a far more popular and effective candidate than Hillary Clinton. The party elites have numerous tools at their disposal to kill a candidate’s chances before he or she ever makes it on the national stage, yet, we are supposed to believe that Trump just slipped through the cracks, or beat them at their own game? I think not.
The election itself was riddled with email leaks and data dumps showcasing the corruption of the Clinton campaign, and yes, this did help to ensure a Trump win. The accusations of “Russian hacking” is clearly a sideshow, but the question remains, who did feed that information to Wikileaks? Some theorize that “disgruntled employees” within the U.S. intelligence apparatus may have leaked the data. I think they were not disgruntled. I think that most of the leaks were part of the election theater from the very beginning. In light of Trump’s clear goal to entrench banking vampires within his administration, I think that the elites always intended for him to “win” the election.
Of course, for some in the liberty movement this claim is sacrilegious. They don’t want to hear it, they’ll hate me for saying it, and that’s fine. I started my work in 2006 during the Bush years, and I remember quite well what it was like. I have little doubt that some people will be accusing me of being a "liberal" before they even finish this article, just as people called me a "Neo-Con" during the Obama administration. People who held fast to "conspiracy theories" surrounding the election and how Clinton was the "chosen one" will now hypocritically call me a "conspiracy theorist" for pointing out that NO ONE gets into the White House without being vetted by the elites, even Trump.
Working in alternative media means not caring if people like you or dislike you. I’ve been able to make numerous correct predictions because I do not concern myself with the pressures of conforming to group-think. My only hope is that many in the movement realize sooner rather than later that their faith in Trump has been ill invested. The great danger is that the liberty movement, the best last chance for saving this nation, will sit on its collective hands idle, centralizing all their hopes and eggs into the Trump basket, waiting for him to gallop in on his white horse and save us all from oblivion. And when that time comes, I suspect that he will do nothing, and the movement will be neutralized by its own desperate desire for a hero and an idol.
This article was originally published at Alt-Market