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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

Gary Vaynerchuk never talks about politics, but he’s great when he does

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Gary Vaynerchuk never talks about politics but hes great when he does

Language warning, in case you’ve never listened to Gary Vaynerchuk before. I have, and he’s great.

Those who know of Gary Vaynerchuk think of wine, social media, and digital strategy. The Belarusian American entrepreneur has been an outspoken advocate of all things “віно і маркетинг” for over a decade, but he rarely speaks about politics.

Recently, he did, and one prediction in particular caught my eye.

In an interview for Capitalism by Ryan Daniel Moran, Vaynerchuk said, “I believe we’re seeing the beginning stages of a four party system in America in the next 50 to 100 years.”

The way he sees it, both major parties are pushing to the extremes on the ideological scale, opening up spots for moderate progressives and moderate conservatives to have major parties of their own. This is the case in most countries; the United States is one of the few that has a true two-party system despite the fact that most of our founding fathers didn’t want it to turn out this way.

John Adams said:

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

But Vaynerchuk, who has built a career around being write much more often than he’s wrong, says the opening is already being seen today. He railed against both parties, blaming both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama for poorly handling the financial crisis of the late 00s.

Millions have learned over the years to listen to Gary Vaynerchuk when he’s offering opinions. Though his political opinions are few and far between, there’s a wisdom to them you don’t hear from the pundits. It’s authentic, a rare quality indeed.

Petition Capitol Hill for Term Limits

Sign the petition. We demand Congress immediately put together legislation that spells out term limits for themselves. Americans need to know who is willing to suppress their own power for the sake of the nation. This can only happen by bringing legislation to the floor.

Will you help revive the American Conservative Movement?

 


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Economy

Charlie Kirk: Capitalism saves lives

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Charlie Kirk Capitalism saves lives

I’m normally not a fan of quick bursts of talking points, preferring longer, fact-filled discussions on topics as important as capitalism versus socialism. With that said, Turning Point‘s Charlie Kirk knocks it out of the park with talking points that totaled 33 seconds.

But even though the video was short, this article will take a bit longer to read. I’m not going to talk about the clear evidence that capitalism is far superior to socialism (or any other economic -ism). Instead, I’d like to focus on the challenge pro-capitalism activists face. Our message is right, and for the most part our nation accepts this. But things are changing. The indoctrination in schools combined with the propaganda in mainstream media and the false narratives from Democrats are all combining to deceive the masses in ways many thought impossible just a few years ago.

Would you have thought over 50% of college students would support socialism over capitalism at any point in American history if someone told you that a decade ago? If you would have, you’re much smarter than me. I couldn’t imagine the will of the people being so misled that many would abandon the system that has clearly worked in exchange for a system that has never worked. It makes no sense, and therein lies the problem with the progressive movement today.

As our EIC noted, logic doesn’t always prevail.

We must, as conservatives, continue to push out the right message. We might think it’s commons sense, but apparently common sense is becoming less common in America. We need to keep pushing.

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Economy

Executive order targeting Huawei is the right move at the right time

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Executive order targeting Huawei is the right move at the right time

American technology companies, particularly those in the telecommunications industry, have been fools for far too long. While China as actively and aggressively sought to not only steal our technology but subvert it by inserting their own untrustworthy components into our systems, many American companies have turned a blind eye to the threats they pose to every American.

That won’t happen anymore. President Trump signed an executive order defending against technological attacks by the Chinese and specifically targeted Huawei, the Chinese telecomm giant that has been inserting itself rapidly into as many technological conversations as it can all across the world.

The right move

There are certain aspects of protectionism that do not appeal to me, but when it comes to technological protectionism, I’m all in. For years I’ve done what I can to limit the amount of Chinese technology in the devices I use for one simple reason: I don’t trust them.

Yes, they’re cheaper. But they’re also cheaper in the way they’re produced. Though China has made many technological advances in recent years (much of which can likely be attributed to theft of technology from other countries), they’re still behind in most regards compared to Japanese, Korean, Israeli, Australian, and European technologies. But that’s not a huge deal at this point; you get what you pay for and if certain sacrifices to quality make sense, so be it as long as it’s cheaper.

But there’s a nefarious aspect to the way the Chinese have inserted their technologies into the global mix. China has a very poor track record of obeying international laws, adhering to security protocols, and believing in the right to privacy. In China, there is no privacy which is why their technology often bypasses privacy controls put in place to protect individuals.

With the growing 5G infrastructure at the center of this move, now is not the time to take risks. If Huawei cannot be trusted, then 5G is the last place we want them involved.

I’m not a fan of executive orders, either, but this is one that makes sense since it’s a dynamic topic that moves much faster than Congress can handle and it’s administrated solely by the executive branch.

The right time

It’s obviously not a coincidence that this executive order was signed just as the trade war with China is ramping up. As our EIC noted, we’re in a time when we must use full measures to win this war. I’m not a fan of tariffs, but if we’re going to use them, let’s make them effective and get rid of them as quickly as possible.

This is just another arrow slung at the Chinese in that trade war. It may be technically separate and it’s hard to imagine this is another bargaining chip, but it will cause further harm to the Chinese economy, making it more likely they’ll come to the table ready to make a deal.

We’ve reached a moment in history where technology can have catastrophic effects on the lives of nearly every American if the wrong actors are allowed to run free in our infrastructure. This is a step towards safeguarding us from the threats.

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