A Thought on Tariffs

The tariffs as used by President Donald Trump are viewed by many as having no impact on our overall trade deficit, and much is made of Trump’s disdain for trade deficits.

Thirty months into the Trump Presidency, the US economy continues to import more than it exports. This isn’t a problem, since the trade deficit is of no great consequence as an economic measure.  But in President Trump’s telling this is a clear and present danger….

Suppose something else, though.

Progressive-Democrats’ Minimum Wage Push

Progressive-Democrats want to raise the national minimum wage to $15/hr.  Here are some back of the envelope numbers that could result.

The CBO says that the new minimum would cost 1.3 million Americans their jobs (in the optimistic scenario; their more pessimistic scenario had 3.7 million Americans put out of work): their current wage would go from $10.10/hr (CBO’s 2014 minimum wage which formed the core of their that-year outcome analysis) to $0.00/hr. The CBO also says that the $15/hr minimum wage would lift 1.3 million American workers out of poverty.

Economic Misunderstanding

The broad Keynesian misunderstanding regarding government spending is continuing.

Spending by consumers and businesses are the most important drivers of economic growth, but in recent years, government outlays have played a bigger role in supporting the economy.
The level of the federal component of GDP in the first quarter of 2019 was $78 billion, or 0.4%, lower than what forecasters expected it would be following the February 2018 budget deal….
The government is spending much less on disaster relief than it did in fiscal 2017, and a partial shutdown temporarily stalled outlays in January. Those factors explain about one-third of the missing stimulus, Mr [Ernie, an Evercore ISI economist] Tedeschi said.

Starbucks Fail

A Starbucks in Tempe, AZ, had one of its baristas ask five police officers who were having a pre-shift coffee either go sit somewhere else or leave altogether because one customer felt “threatened” over their being where the customer could see them.

In the hoo-raw ensuing, Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges said

We have a deep respect for the Tempe Police and their service to the community.

That’s plainly not true. If Starbucks really cared, if it had any actual respect for the police—much less a shred of self-respect—it would have had a better-trained crew of baristas who wouldn’t knee-jerk insult cops over a snowflake’s made-up beef.

The Cost of a Celebration

President Donald Trump held America’s Independence Day celebration with a Salute to America, centered at the Lincoln Memorial.

Together, we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told—the story of America.  Today, just as it did 243 years ago, the future of American Freedom rests on the shoulders of men and women willing to defend it.

Just to pick out a couple of things: The Wall Street Journal cited “Democrats” complaining about

the use of military hardware for a traditionally nonpartisan celebration.

Because defending our nation’s existence and celebrating those who do that defense isn’t nonpartisan.  Sure.

Nike Fail

Nike has signified its agreement with Colin Kaepernick‘s assessment that Nike’s planned Betsy Ross-flagged shoe, intended to be released for Independence Day celebrations, was offensive to some by canceling the release.  Kaepernick’s claim was that

he and others felt the Betsy Ross flag is an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery

Never mind that, were it not for those evil slavers who founded our nation and fought for our independence, we’d still be dealing in slavery and indentured servitude—and guess what would be the lot of current immigrants, legal and illegal.

Trade and the Rule of Law

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked for President Donald Trump’s help, at the G-20 meeting in Japan, to get the People’s Republic of China to release the Canadian hostages that the PRC kidnapped in retaliation for Canada’s detaining a PRC company executive for criminal investigation.  Trump has agreed.

Gerard Gayou suggested in his piece at the link,

Mr Trump may worry that challenging Mr Xi on political prisoners would jeopardize a trade deal, but pressing China on the rule of law should be a priority.

Is Renault a Useful Business Partner?

When Fiat-Chrysler offered a merger deal with Renault, Renault’s subordinated partner, Nissan, expressed reluctance unless its subordination to Renault could be revised upward at least somewhat so that it could have a greater voice in the resultant combined company.

Note, though, that the French government is a major shareholder of Renault, and the government has a virtually controlling number of seats on the Renault board: Nissan was—and is, given subsequent events—subordinate to the French government as much as it is to its nominal business…senior partner.

The French government interfered with the offer, and it dithered and stalled, and finally Fiat-Chrysler lost patience and withdrew its offer.

Only Part of the Story

New Hampshire publishes on a State Web site the prices charged by hospitals in the State, and President Donald Trump is working up an Executive Order that would, with some differences in breadth (including information on the prices negotiated with insurers), make the practice a nationwide one.

Price transparency is a Critical Item in controlling—bringing down—the cost of health care, but it’s only part of the story.  A measure of cost transparency would be useful, too, not only for the consumer, but for governments as they look for (non-subsidy, non-tax) ways to further price competition.

Tax and Spent Progressive-Democrats

In spades.  They’re in a race to bankrupt us.  Or, as The Wall Street Journal put it,

The Democratic presidential primary is turning into a bidding war.

Senator and Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) has broken out of the starting gate with an offer of forgiveness of $640 billion in student debt for our votes.

Senator and Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I, VT), though, has caught her at the first turn: he’s offering $1.6 trillion (yes, that’s with a ‘t’) in canceled student debt plus tuition-free “public” colleges.