A Thought on Free Trade

…which I’ll assume for this post is structured between participant nations as fair trade, since it’s possible to have free and unfair trade, and it’s unfair trade that should be anathema.  Not all free trade is unfair; the parameters of any trade agreement, parameters that make the trade fair or unfair, are matters of mutual agreement (or perhaps not so mutual in the case of unfairness) among those participants.

Don Boudreaux triggered my thought with his piece in US News & World Report.

Irony Meter

Mine is pegged.  I’m not so sure about the protestors’.

Recall that the claimed purpose of the Dakota Pipeline protests by the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters was their alleged concern that the pipeline or future leaks from it would pollute the Cannonball River and Lake Oahe, the tribe’s water source, and damage the Sioux’ sacred grounds.

Clean-up crews are racing to clear acres of debris at the largest Dakota Access protest camp before the spring thaw turns the snowy, trash-covered plains into an environmental disaster area.

Tax Credits in the Obamacare Replacement Proposal

In the main, I’m opposed to these on a couple of grounds.  One is that it’s just more welfare; we need to find a way to move folks off welfare and into the labor force and jobs rather than keeping them trapped in the welfare cage—like we did when we originally reformed the food stamps program by requiring recipients to get a job or lose the stamps.  That reform not only reduced overall unemployment, it put recipients back into jobs (and off that welfare program).  These weren’t make-work jobs, either; net prosperity for those recipient families increased.  (Then the Obama administration withdrew the work requirement, and we got record numbers of folks back on food stamps).

Sanctuary Cities and Federal Funding

San Francisco asked a federal judge Wednesday to block President Trump’s order threatening to strip federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities that bar police from enforcing immigration laws.

This suit has a good chance of succeeding.  In 1987’s South Dakota v Dole, the Supreme Court ruled (in a dispute over the State’s minimum drinking age and Federal highway funds transfers to the State) that the Federal government cannot withhold already agreed Federal funds from a State in order to coerce State acquiescence with Federal wishes.  Funds can be withheld to “persuade,” but the withheld funds must be related to the question at hand rather than a blanket withholding, and the amount withheld cannot be coercive in its size, but only persuasive.  Without naming a threshold for the amount, the Court held that the 5% withholding imposed by the Federal government was not coercive.

Misguided

In light of whose DoJ it’s been doing this most recently, it’s easy to say it was nefarious.  But the whole thing could be eliminated with either of a couple of steps and a change in underlying procedure.

What is “it?”  It’s a secret (or merely secretive) slush fund fed by settlement proceeds from DoJ civil suits against large banks.

When big banks are sued by the government for discrimination or mortgage abuse, they can settle the cases by donating to third-party non-victims. The settlements do not specify how these third-party groups could use the windfall.

Who Should Control American Foreign Policy?

One answer is indicated by the Trump administration’s de-emphasis of the World Trade Organization as the primary arbiter of our international trade policy.  A draft policy document, if the leak of it is a legitimate one, and if it’s being accurately described in the NLMSM might represent a promising start.

The Trump administration is developing a national trade policy that would seek to diminish the influence of the World Trade Organization in the US and champion American law as a way to take on trading partners it blames for unfair practices, according to a draft document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

A Bank Gets One Right

The city of Seattle, WA, is upset with Wells Fargo because the bank is a lender to the Dakota Access Pipeline project.  They’re so upset, in fact, that they’ve advised Wells that Seattle won’t renew its financial services contract with the bank when it expires at the end of next year.

Phillip Smith, Executive Vice President and Head of Government and Institutional Banking at Wells Fargo, isn’t worried, though.  He responded to the city via letter, saying that

if the city really wants out, the bank will sever its contract with the city immediately, with no penalty, and will help the city find a replacement[.]

Hysteria or Hypocrisy?

You pick ’em.  The latest example of irrationality (which is a superset of both hysteria and hypocrisy) comes via V the K at GayPatriot.

Recall that the Progressive-Democratic Party that runs Philadelphia passed a massive sugar tax to be levied against soft drinks sold in the city.  Recall, too, the high school economics teaching that if you raise the price of something, demand for that something falls off.  Finally, recall that applying a tax to that something is the same as raising its price.

The [soda] tax is huge, amounting to a 45% to 100% increase in the final consumer cost of typically affected beverage products.

Call Them on Their Obstructionism

Heather Higgins, CEO of Independent Women’s Voice, says go big or go home regarding Obamacare.  Republicans in Congress should quit dithering, should not play reconciliation games, and should simply put an Obamacare repeal and replace package up for vote.  This would force the Democrat obstructionists—especially those #NeverTrumpNoHow and #NeverRepublicanNotEver Progressive-Democrats in the Senate on the record as by-name blocking reform of the Obama program that is in its death spiral, the endpoint of which will leave millions of Americans without health coverage and without even coverage providers to which to appeal.  Especially put those 10 Progressive-Democrats pretending to moderacy in order to protect their precarious reelection chances in 2018 on the spot.

Of Course He Does

California has an infrastructure failure problem that involves everything from its roads to its dams and other water control facilities.  Governor Jerry Brown (D) says it will cost $187 billion to fix its infrastructure, and he wants $12 billion per year of Federal funding to help with that.  In actuality, Brown doesn’t want Federal funding, he wants what Federal funding consists of: money taxed by the Federal government from the good citizens of financial straitened New York to help pay for his needs, he wants money taxed by the Federal government from the good citizens of nearly bankrupt Illinois to help pay for his needs, he wants money taxed by the Federal government from the good citizens of fiscally responsible and so flush Texas and Utah to help pay for his needs.