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Economy

Free but Fair Trade – Is it Possible?

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Free but fair trade is an expression which we often hear today from President Trump; just as we hear that millionaires and billionaires must pay their fair share from Senator Sanders. When asked what percentage is fair; since these millionaire and billionaires are in the highest tax bracket and pay the most in taxes, we never seem to get an answer. All we hear is from the progressive left that they have too much and need to pay more.

Similarly, the expression free but fair trade sounds great, but the meaning of “fair” is utterly void of any substantive meaning. The idea of a 25% tariff may be fair, but it is by no means free. So the question is, how can we obtain free but fair trade?

The Reality

Before we can answer this question, we must first examine the deficiencies in our current trade policies. The first thing we must realize is that we do not currently have free trade. Think about it like this. If we did have free trade why would we need complex trade agreements? The fact is we have thousands of tariffs in the United States. Just like every other country, we seek to protect some industries over others.

Some are for supposed national security reasons, and others are simply to protect an industry in a member of Congress’ district.

The second and most significant reason we do not have free trade is that true free trade is optimal but not politically expedient. For instance, let us use China and the United States as examples and let us say we currently do not trade with each other.

Establishing trade with one another is beneficial for both countries regardless of tariffs. Since trade never existed, an unfavorable trade agreement is preferable over no trade at all. Reasons being both countries will benefit from trade. Industries may open, and some may close, but there will be a net positive for both countries. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Now instead of unfavorable trade agreements, what if we had free trade. All products coming from China into the United States and vice versa are tax-free. In this situation, you will see the greatest mutually benefit as both countries will have positive net growth. If this situation exists for years, you will see a fluid economy as some industries will be created, grow, decline, or shut down.

The problem that arises is not the creating and growth of some industries but the decline or elimination portion.

If a software engineering firm which sells most of its software to China opens up in a congressional district, you will be sure to see that member of Congress at the ribbon cutting ceremony will a plethora of other politicians stating their policies fostered the creating of this software engineering firm.

On the other hand, you won’t see these same politicians at the factory down the street which is packing up and moving to China. The same policies that opened up the software engineering firm eliminated your manufacturing job. What is an elected official to do?

What they will try and do is give tax incentives and add tariffs to prevent the closure. If they succeed, they will once again take credit; even though the biggest net benefit to the economy as a whole is to allow the factory to shut down, though it isn’t politically expedient.

Back in China, they will also try and protect their software engineering firms by adding tariffs and regulations on the US-based company. The result of all this will be less than optimal, but a long-term net benefit is not politically expedient. So protectionism will inevitably begin.

Possible Solution?

Therefore, how do we create complete free and fair trade? The honest answer is you can’t; as we have demonstrated allowing complete laissez-faire trade policy will never occur because it isn’t politically expedient. Some may be for good reasons and some for bad reasons.

To achieve the most optimal outcome would be to eliminate tariffs. But how do you do that without cheating and allowing politically expedient policies?

Maybe this example trade policy below might help in this endeavor.

All products, goods, materials, and services, entering the United States and its territories shall be free of tariffs. Any fees, including but not limited to docking, storage, and inspection imposed at points of entry shall be uniform at each location regardless of country of origin. Likewise, all products, goods, materials, and services produced in the United States and its territories shall be free of tariffs. Any country that imposes a tax on any of said products shall immediately, have the highest equivalent tax impose on all their goods and services at the same rate plus 10%; until eliminated.

Likewise, any fees should not favor any other country over the United States and its territories. Fees must be uniform or to the benefit of the United States. If fees are to the disadvantage of the United States, those same rates shall be immediately imposed on said country plus 10% until eliminated.

How it works

I postulate this trade policy would allow greater free trade then we have ever seen.

For instance, if China has a combined 20% tariff on mid-sized trucks and 25% on sedans, then since 25% is the highest tax imposed on US products then 100% of all items coming into the United States from China will have a tariff of 27.5% immediately imposed on it. This scheme would also apply to any value added tax or border adjustment tax which would disadvantage the United States over other foreign or domestic products. Therefore, I believe the consequence would be so devastating to China they wouldn’t dare put a tax on American products, and likewise, the United States would not want to engage in a trade war just to protect one industry or factory.

Let us say that we just succeeded in creating Free Trade the vague notion of Fair Trade can never be quantified or defined.

For instance, if China is subsidizing its steel industry and shipping Chinese steel into the United States cheaper than the free market can produce it, is that still Fair Trade?

Is it Fair?

It’s still Free Trade because no taxes or tariffs are imposed but is it fair?

Some would argue that it is not fair for China to subsidize their steel industry because that puts the US steel industry at a disadvantage. The US could impose a tariff but as stated that would eliminate free trade. The only other option would be for the United States to subsidize the US steel industry or let it possibly collapse. Sidenote, we only receive 2% of our steel from China, and U.S. Steel production makes up 70% of the steel used in the United States.

Some might see this as unfair; others see this as a plus benefit to the United States.

American economist and Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences recipient Milton Friedman viewed this as reverse foreign aid. If China wants to tax their citizens to provide US citizens and companies with subsidized steel why not let them. In a Milton Friedman perspective, this might seem unfair to Chinese taxpayers and more than fair to US taxpayers.

Some may argue that US steel production is vital to US national security. Having enough steel is crucial to our national security, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t stockpile Chinese steel. Also, it neglects the fact that other countries like South Korea protect their steel industry by subsidizing steel in their country to prevent monopolization by Chinese firms. The US can also buy from South Korea or even Canada.

Countries may also put strict regulations on how steel is produced in their countries as well as impose those rules on foreign producers. These policies may not have a defined numerical value as a tariff but in a sense act as a protectionist trade barrier. Since there is no quantitative value to these types of regulations, having US laws automatically trigger countermeasures would be impossible.

So can we truly have Free but Fair Trade? As we have seen having Free Trade is possible, but Fair Trade is really in the eye of the beholder. Ultimately, the best interest of the United States and its continued success is by having a free trade policy, maybe something like I have spelled out in this article, as well as, limiting regulations and limiting government interference in the economy.

Nothing can be put in place to be completely fair and balanced, but the most reasonable thing to do for the overall benefit of America and Americans is to maximize laissez-faire economic policies void of politically expedient measures.


Konstantinos Roditis is a candidate for California State Controller. You can learn more about his campaign at cacontroller.com, and you can follow him on Twitter & Facebook.

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Economy

Progressive think tanks: If the economy holds strong, Trump should win in a landslide

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Progressive think tanks If the economy holds strong Trump should win in a landslide

Tribalism makes it challenging to gauge where the sentiment of the most important voting blocks stand. Hyper-leftists would vote for a broken refrigerator before voting for President Trump in 2020, while the MAGA crowd would stand in line with no food, water, or a bathroom for two days if that’s what would be required for them to vote for their man.

But these won’t be the people who determine the results of the 2020 election. They never are, even if their numbers are greater on both sides as noted by Ben Shapiro in his new book. The rabid Republicans and determined Democrats may ebb and flow in size, but it’s the people in the mushy middle who win elections.

Knowing this, it’s often difficult to determine what the sentiment is if we go solely based on the news. Just as with the dedicated tribes, so too are media outlets generally spun in how they present the news. This is why a story from today on left-leaning Politico prompted a read. It was worthwhile going through the leftist spin to reach the meat of the story, which basically says if conventional wisdom about incumbents and the economy hold up and the economy can remain strong through the election, President Trump should win in a landslide regardless of who the Democrats nominate.

Models from multiple think tanks conclude the conventional model favors the President, but these are unconventional times. It’s still very possible for the economy to remain strong and for the President to be hit with another onslaught of scandals, as he was in 2016. Then, there’s the “it” factor of the Democratic nominee. Someone like Senator Kamala Harris throws in the minority-female combination as an appealing wildcard in the mix. Meanwhile, Beto O’Rourke and Senator Bernie Sanders still have incredible fundraising infrastructures that could help them dominate the money battle through the primaries and during the general election.

Of course, there’s always the possibility the economy could fall. Analysts have been predicting it in a way that’s vulgar, as if they hope the economy falls and people are hurt by it just to make sure President Trump loses in 2020.

If Republicans can put on a full-court press on the economy, something they failed miserably at in the 2018 midterms, they may be able to ride the President’s wave to victories on Capitol Hill as well. November 2020 will sneak up very quickly.

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Democrats

TIL the famous bar AOC worked at shut down over rising costs, minimum wage increase

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TIL the famous bar AOC worked at shut down over rising costs minimum wage increase

Today I learned something that surprised me, not because of the event itself but because so few people have talked about it. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is known for being a leader of the socialist movement in Washington DC after rising from the humble status of bartender to the Congresswoman of the 14th district in New York. Her policies include a push for a “living wage” of $15 per hour. I’ve always thought the wording was odd considering Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and others have been calling for a rise in “minimum wage.” Today, I found out why she’s shying away from that phrase.

When New York City raised their minimum wage $15, many businesses were hit hard, especially in the hospitality industry. Restaurants and bars started cutting hours and often even closing their doors over the increase. One of those hit hard by the massive bump was The Coffee Shop. Owner Charles Milite blamed the closure on high costs, with the rise in minimum wage as the last straw.

“The rents are very high and now the minimum wage is going up and we have a huge number of employees,” he said.

The Coffee Shop is the bar where AOC once worked.

Keep in mind, this wasn’t some random bar. The Coffee Shop in Union Square was considered a high-end establishment, buzzing all the time with “A-list” patrons. It was featured many times in the HBO show Sex and the City and had built a reputation as an “it” spot for Manhattan residents and tourists alike. In other words, this wasn’t a hole in the wall hanging on by a string. It was a vibrant, successful business for almost three decades before New York City’s untenable leftist policies, including a $15 minimum wage, became more than the bar could bear.

On the surface, many voters may see the very basic math of “oh, Democrats want to pay me more” and assume there’s no repercussions for such actions. This is why Democrats prey on those people who currently make lower wages. They feel if they can promise them something that sounds good even if they know with 100% certainty based on empirical evidence that it will actually hurt them, these new socialists are willing to make that trade. They figure they can blame the conservatives later for why the place they were working at before cut their hours, removed their jobs, or shut down because of raising the minimum wage.

As usual, socialists rely on ignorance and emotion as the driving forces behind their plans. They’re not stupid. They know their ideas won’t work. But they’re willing to push them on people anyway in hopes that ignorance will keep them in power.

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Economy

Thomas Sowell makes a clear point about Medicare-for-All

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Thomas Sowell makes a clear point about Medicare-for-All

How was the left able to take heat away from their Medicare-for-All proposal, and more specifically the estimated $32 trillion price tag over a decade? They tripled down with the Green New Deal, which some estimate would cost upwards near $100 trillion.

So, the price tag of the Democrats’ desired replacement for utterly failing Obamacare is to take current government control over healthcare and put it on a regiment of steroids and methamphetamine. When you’re going through Hell, keep going, I suppose.

But all of this could be alleviated if voters and politicians took a moment to think about the prospects of Medicare-for-All logically. Let’s erase, for a moment, the Utopian notion that taxing rich people extreme amounts will give us enough money to make healthcare free for everyone while also improving the quality. That’s the goal, right? Cheaper, better healthcare is what most people want. Conservatives believe it’s best to pull government administration out of the equation and put it all on a competitive capitalist model that has worked for nearly every other industry for over a century. Hyper-leftists want to add more government control.

Conservative commentator Thomas Sowell has some thoughts on the matter. One in particular can be wrapped up into an eloquent quote that should be ideological checkmate allowing us to win the healthcare debate.

“It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.”

Of course, our version of checkmate requires common sense, logic, and basic math skills. These attributes aren’t as readily present on the left, therefore they might hear this logic and still think single-payer makes sense.

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