Tariffs and national self-interest

Patrick Buchanan provides a succinct summary of why Trump’s emphasis on tariffs in the relationship with China is hardly unprecedented.  In fact, one could say it’s a return to the policies that once made a young nation great:

A tariff may be described as a sales or consumption tax the consumer pays, but tariffs are also a discretionary and an optional tax. If you choose not to purchase Chinese goods and instead buy comparable goods made in other nations or the USA, then you do not pay the tariff.
China loses the sale. This is why Beijing, which runs $350 billion to $400 billion in annual trade surpluses at our expense is howling loudest. Should Donald Trump impose that 25% tariff on all $500 billion in Chinese exports to the USA, it would cripple China’s economy. Factories seeking assured access to the U.S. market would flee in panic from the Middle Kingdom.
Tariffs were the taxes that made America great. They were the taxes relied upon by the first and greatest of our early statesmen, before the coming of the globalists Woodrow Wilson and FDR.
Tariffs, to protect manufacturers and jobs, were the Republican Party’s path to power and prosperity in the 19th and 20th centuries, before the rise of the Rockefeller Eastern liberal establishment and its embrace of the British-bred heresy of unfettered free trade.
The Tariff Act of 1789 was enacted with the declared purpose, “the encouragement and protection of manufactures.” It was the second act passed by the first Congress led by Speaker James Madison. It was crafted by Alexander Hamilton and signed by President Washington.

As Buchanan mentions, tariffs were once an integral part of an economic policy that became known as “The American System” — a policy so successful that other nations emulated it.  It’s worth noting the Federal government undertook its first infrastructure projects with almost no other source of funding other than tariffs (land sales being the main exception).  I’ll admit: I’m not a fan of the Federal government doing public works projects.  But the limited revenue stream tariffs provided kept such activity modest in the early republic, and for the most part it’s easy to see the wisdom of such projects as lighthouses, postal routes and the Cumberland Road.

Still, public works projects were controversial, even then.  Many in the South believed tariffs disproportionally benefitted northern industrial interests through protectionism and infrastructure.  Tariffs sparked the Nullification Crisis in South Carolina, and was cited as one source of discontent as States left the Union after Lincoln’s election in 1860.  Sectionalism aside, the nature of tariffs as a voluntary tax that promotes national self-reliance and internal growth recommends it as one of the best ways to fund a limited government.  Certainly, the explosive growth of Uncle Sam after institution of the Income Tax is evidence of that.  I’ve said before that a national sales tax would be preferable to an income tax (provided it didn’t result in both being in effect).  Many of the same reasons apply to tariffs.

Buchanan rightfully points out that abandoning so-called “free trade” for a tariff system that enforces fair trade will be painful in the short term, much like a junkie getting over their addiction.  American wages have been stagnant in inflation-adjusted terms since the 1970s.  The only reason we appear to have a higher material standard of living is the influx of overseas goods that appear cheap on the price tag, but which in reality take a heavy toll on the nation in terms of lost industries, disappearing jobs and a growing economic dependency on outsiders.  That doesn’t even take into account that many of the reasons goods made in places such as China are ‘cheaper’ is that they lack protections for workers and the local environment — impacts we considered so important here that we willingly added them to the economic burden of production.  In short, “free trade” as it’s currently practiced is an apples-to-oranges comparison that hides or downplays the negative aspects of globalism.

The Enemy doesn’t get to define us

One thing about the Trump era: it’s caused a lot of people to confront the misplaced notion that Christians are supposed to be all about inoffensive sweetness and niceness, and only support politicians of that variety:

There are innumerable examples of people who are wonderful but unaccomplished just as there are many notable examples of people with serious personal failings who nonetheless have excelled in other parts of their lives: artists, scientists, parents, and even politicians.

And yes, I’m not so subtly making a point about President Trump. His private failings have been made very public prompting some Christian pundits to say that not only do those failings disqualify Trump from office, but they are so egregious as to make supporting him sinful for Christians.

It should be obvious that support for a political candidate does not mean a blanket endorsement of every aspect that candidate’s life. It is merely an endorsement of that person’s policies and an assessment of his ability to perform in office. What’s more, it’s often not even a blanket endorsement of that, it’s a practical decision that Candidate A, while imperfect, is preferable to Candidate B…

The question is, by what standard should a Christian judge a candidate or an officeholder? Part of the answer is that the Christian and non-Christian ought to judge in the same way: what can the candidate do to protect the peace and prosperity of the nation and its citizens? Christians would add that they require political leaders that will protect the right of the Church to worship freely and its members to practice their faith in peace.

If personal sin were disqualifying, who could lead? Christians in particular, for whom recognition of indwelling sin is both a predicate and a sustainer of faith, should know this. I suspect what the Frenches really want is a prophet, a priest, and a king to rule in this secular age, a political leader in which they can invest their highest hopes. But in doing so, they are placing upon liberal politics a weight it cannot hope to carry and are headed for disappointment.  The good news is, if they want a prophet, a priest, and a king, they already have one . . . in Christ.

As a presidential candidate in 2012, [Mitt Romney] was weak and ineffectual, letting Barack Obama walk all over him and run away with the race. But vote for him because he’s polite and he doesn’t curse!  Voters, many of them Christians, decided that the time for beautiful losers is over.

Exactly.  As I watch my country overrun by uninvited invaders, beset by hostile ideologies growing within and enemies gathering without, I am really not concerned with parlor games and political pleasantries anymore.  It’s no exaggeration to say our birthright freedoms are in a fight for their very survival.  In such a situation I’ll take a committed patriot with the manners of Genghis Khan over a manicured globalist who’s a disciple of Ann Landers; a Patton, not a Pope.

And as for Christianity requiring a milquetoast demeanor… our adversaries would have us forget that Our Lord’s example includes such pleasantries as flipping tables, driving people with whips, calling deceivers ‘vipers‘ and children of Satan, and calling down woe on feckless leaders more interested in themselves than in those they were called to lead.  Christ isn’t just the Lamb… He’s also the Lion of Judah.  “Not a tame lion,” either, as C.S. Lewis once pointed out.

So despite his many past moral failings, maybe… just maybe… Trump’s on to something here.  I’ll certainly never confuse him with Christ.  But Twitter aside, regarding the manner in which he is governing I’ll say he is more Christ-like than many of the false-faced Wormtongues who surround him in Mordor.  It’s amusing: the Left always screeches that Christian faith should never influence public policy.  But faced with Trump, who has committed the unpardonable sin of actually trying to govern as he campaigned, the Left — which recognizes no restraints of civility on its own quest for power — is more than willing to use a watered-down, denatured vision of the Christian walk to try to shame people out of supporting him.

I mean it literally when I say “to hell with that.”

Save up all your tears

Shocked at Trump’s intention of giving Sanctuary cities exactly what they say they want — more illegal immigrants — Cher cries “what about Americans?”

Cher Tweet

I particularly liked the “(Many are VETS)” part, given current trends:

Democrats in Albany may be having second thoughts about blocking a bill that would help children of injured or fallen veterans go to college…

The committee instead approved $27 million in tuition assistance to so-called “dreamers” – students brought to the country by their parents illegally when they were children.

“Taxpayer money for free college for illegal immigrants… yet struck down a bill that provides free college tuition to gold star families. Absolutely wrong and insulting,” Assemblyman Michael Lipetri of Long Island’s 9th District added.

That a leftist like Cher is suddenly tweeting like a “deplorable” shows how effective Trump is at twisting them like a pretzel around their own politics.  It’s my fervent hope that undecided and independent Americans are looking at the Democrats’ reactions to his proposal to send illegals to “sanctuary” cities and asking “so wait… then why is it OK to inflict that on everyone else?”

We don’t need to just reelect Trump in 2020.  We need to give him a Congress fully prepared to support him.

Some vital perspective

In an online forum, a professor asks where to place Trump on a list of world leaders.  Most likely blinded by Trump derangement syndrome, the professor concludes Trump comes in ahead of Stalin.  Another forum participant has a better analysis:

Professor ZZZ asks: “[W]here [would] you put Trump?”

No new, major land war(s) in Asia—so Trump is ahead of LBJ.

No missile crisis risking an exchange of nuclear weapons with a superpower—so Trump is ahead of JFK.

No wars of national conquest—so Trump is ahead of Polk (Texas) and McKinley (Philippines, Cuba).

No move to war after foreign power made full, reasonable efforts to amicably settle reasons for dispute—so Trump is ahead of Madison (War of 1812). Under Madison, we burned down the capital of British North America (York/Toronto), and they returned the favor in Washington. So Trump beats Madison.

No wars against native American tribes—so Trump is ahead of [fill in the blank—many such presidents could be listed here].

No wars based on poor intelligence or to prop up foreign absolute monarchies—so Trump is ahead of both Bush I and Bush II.

Trump has not interned 100,000s of US citizens based on race—so Trump is ahead of FDR.

Trump has not allowed a U.S. state or territory to go into civil war and then allow its government to be hijacked by the brigands who engineered the civil war—so Trump is ahead of Buchanan (Bleeding Kansas).

I still don’t know why President Clinton blew up an aspirin factory or why Secretary Clinton permitted NATO forces and materiel to blow up Libya—so Trump probably comes out ahead of both of them too.

Trump is ahead of Woodrow Wilson: World War I, and his resegregation of the federal civil service. I grant you that being ahead of Wilson is not saying much…but then, the nation survived Wilson, and no one today thinks of Wilson as having lowered the bar vis-a-vis future presidents. ((I do… he was more openly hostile to the Constitution than any president before him — Jemison)) Professor ZZZ seems to be worried about this. He wrote: “Having a POTUS so publicly awful along those lines lowers the horrible bar so dramatically that we will pay for years to come.” Really?—Will we pay for it in years to come, or is this just a shabby slippery slope-type argument? …

If words and pretty speeches are the measure of a president, then Trump comes up short. The question is whether that is the correct standard for measuring presidents in a dangerous world.

This is why knowing history is indispensable — it provides essential context within which to understand the present.  As for the last point in the quote, I remind those who gauge world leaders mainly by their oratory that Adolph Hitler was a rather gifted and mesmerizing speaker by all accounts.  For all his bluster and distracting patterns of speech, Trump has consistently pursued exactly what he promised to do during his campaigning.  In a world rightfully cynical about politicians who routinely fail to do that, this performance counts for a lot among his supporters.  It’s the key reason many voters are willing to overlook the baggage of Trump’s many personal shortcomings.  That our self-professed elites can’t understand that says more about them than it does Trump or his supporters.

A final thought: it appears Trump has survived one of the most nefarious political plots ever contrived against a president.  If that’s the case, and he successfully brings to public account the unelected bureaucracy that attempted it, his administration may well be remembered as one of the most consequential in our nation’s history.

(H/T: Instapundit)

Satan’s scribes

 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  John 8:44

Trump’s rallying cry of “fake news!” doesn’t resonate with Middle America because of any personal charisma.  It resonates because Middle America figured it out long before a person running for office was willing to say it out loud, repeatedly.  Traditionalists have known for some time that reporters will go to great lengths to cast them as villains, dangerous throwbacks who are out of touch with the present.  It stands to reason, then, that anyone who appears to speak for them on the national stage will be excoriated for it.

Despite presenting an opportunity for sobriety and excellence, the election of President Donald Trump has been an unmitigated disaster for the political media, which have never reckoned with their role in Trump’s elevation and eventual selection, and which have subsequently treated his presidency as a rolling opportunity for high-octane drama, smug self-aggrandizement, and habitual sloth. I did not go to journalism school, but I find it hard to believe that even the least prestigious among those institutions teaches that the correct way to respond to explosive, unsourced reports that just happen to match your political priors is to shout “Boom” or “Bombshell” or “Big if true” and then to set about spreading those reports around the world without so much as a cursory investigation into the details. And yet, in the Trump era, this has become the modus operandi of all but the hardest-nosed scribblers…

When a headline reads “Lawmaker Involved in Scandal,” one can immediately deduce that the lawmaker is a Democrat. Why? Because if he were a Republican, the story would make that clear in the headline. Without fail, stories that begin with “Republicans pounce” are actually about bad things that Democrats have done or said, while stories about bad things that Republicans have done or said begin with “Republican does or says a bad thing” and proceed to a dry recitation of the facts…

Which brings us to the press’s most infuriating habit: its selective defense of American institutions… Institutions matter until the Supreme Court rules in a way that annoys the editors of the Huffington Post, who immediately cast the same judges who yesterday were beyond reproach as “illegitimate” or “corrupt” or too male or too white or too Catholic or too rich or too mean. Institutions matter until the economy produces results that irritate Paul Krugman, at which point the system is held to be “rigged.” Institutions matter until Barack Obama wants to change the law without Congress, at which point the story becomes what the president wants and not whether what he is doing is legal. Institutions matter until Donald Trump wins an election, and then the entire system needs junking and is probably being run by the Russians anyway.

Read the entire piece excerpted above.  Nowhere has this consistent slant of the press been more visible than in the propaganda “coverage” of the Mueller investigation…

Continue reading

How we became unthinking mobs

The recent rush to judgment over the Covington Catholic High School group’s actions after the March for Life in D.C. is merely the latest in a string of events, including the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, that demonstrate far too many of our citizens react to events via emotion and bias rather than reason.  One only needs to spend a brief time on Twitter to realize our national discourse has largely descended to the level of junior high school taunting back and forth.  Insults, rather than insight, is the currency there.

The danger is that these “two minutes’ hate” events have become so regular, that people who should certainly know better–like Disney producers–begin tweeting things like this:

woodchipper tweet

Sure, he “apologized” as the original narrative about what happened utterly collapsed.   That’s irrelevant — the fact many adults thought it appropriate to say such vile things shows how close we are to actual violence breaking out in our country.  These public utterances simply show what is in the heart of far too many people.

I’ve often noted how close we are to violence now, or the need to defend our freedoms by force.  And while I’ll admit to occasionally thinking like Han Solo, the truth is I’m well aware of what such circumstances would mean.  As a military veteran of multiple deployments, I’ve seen firsthand what happens when the last veneer of civility is ripped away.  And it’s the last thing I want for the country I love and pledged my life to defend.

How did we get here?  Not by accident, that’s for certain:

In terms of communication, people will say what they think. The problem with the sad state of civil discourse today occurs because people are mostly really bad at thinking. The dismal failure of the education system is what created our poisonous public discourse.

This degeneration of the public’s ability to think did not occur instantaneously. The destruction of reason and logic was a gradual process, spearheaded by the adoption of postmodernist subjectivity in the late 1960s and pushed into the American schools since then.

Those of us who are partial to objectivity are instinctively aware that classroom methods of encouraging feelings and emotion are fundamentally problematic. Children are encouraged to express what they feel when it comes to understand the world around them. For example; climate change feels bad because humans are destroying the planet. Capitalism feels bad because we are exploiting the poor. Masculinity feels bad because males oppress women. Environmentalism feels good because we are saving the planet. Socialism feels great because we take care of the poor in society. Feminism feels wonderful because girls are empowered against male oppression.

The method of teaching students to “feel” (i.e. perception from senses) instead of to “think” (i.e. conception from judgement) is the problem with education. It is the reason why Johnny can’t think. Johnny’s mind hasn’t been trained to think in integrated concepts because he has always been taught to rely on his feelings. Johnny’s world is presented to him in a fragmented chaos of sensory perceptions.

It is quite an interesting exercise to note how most people are unable to think in concepts. Take for example, when a criminal kills with a gun, someone who is incapable of thinking in concepts can only see the instrument of murder and thus mobilize against banning guns because they think that it is the gun itself that is responsible of the crime.  The same lack of conceptual thinking applies to those who are incapable of seeing a successful white male for his character, skills and habit as the factors shaping his success because their thinking capacity only allows them to see his gender and race as the factor which determines his success.

The American schools has succeeded in reducing the public’s intellect to the level of the perceptual beast. …they do not know how to put together the data they observed into structured logical thoughts. And like a lost animal incapable of making sense of the world around it, that person lashes out like a beast because the world is unintelligible around them.

These are excerpts from a much lengthier piece I encourage you to read in its entirety.  It goes far to explain how a sitting member of Congress can wonder aloud why people might be more concerned about “being precisely, factually and semantically correct than about being morally right.”  This is not a new development.  Back in 2004 the New York Times actually ran a story about alleged records (proven to be forgeries) of then-President Bush’s service in the Guard that had the headline “Memos on Bush are Fake but Accurate, Typist Says.”  (But whatever you do, don’t call the New York Times “failing” or “fake news!”)

Emotions have their place.  But they must be kept in their place.  That place is not the drivers seat of law and policy.  Our compromised public schools, though, have taught multiple generations to “follow your heart” regardless of any inconvenient facts (example: the 100 million body count Marxist ideology racked up in the 20th century).  So now we have a body politic where one side thinks the other is stupid for ignoring reality, and the other responds by thinking the rationalists are uncaring and evil.

That kind of divide is not likely to end well.

TSA Shutdown? Yes, please

Regular readers of this blog know that I absolutely loathe the Transportation Security Administration. It’s a monstrous, unconstitutional abomination that should not exist in any society that considers itself “free.” What’s more, it is demonstratively unable to meet its primary purpose: detecting and intercepting potential threats to travelers.  Perhaps the ongoing “shutdown” of the Feral Government will give Americans — and the TSA Employees themselves — a chance to rethink how ‘essential’ this function really is:.

Nobody wants to work for an employer who holds off on cutting paychecks until a more convenient moment, and that’s just what the federal government is doing during its “shutdown”—a spectacle that almost seems crafted to demonstrate how easy it is to live without the leviathan in Washington, D.C.

Understandably, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees are no more enthusiastic about working when their paychecks are delayed than is anybody else on the planet. That’s why they’ve been calling-in sick in increased numbers—some to seek temporary work elsewhere in order to pay their bills—as the more-theater-than-reality “government shutdown” drags on.

Not that there’s any point to all of that [TSA] groping beyond the purely recreational aspect. Undercover investigators were able to smuggle weapons and explosives past TSA agents 95 percent of the time, according to a 2015 Homeland Security Investigator General report. Maybe that’s because agents are relying on dowsing rods or Spidey sense—they’re certainly not depending on the expensive equipment they make travelers and baggage file through.

“Because TSA does not adequately oversee equipment maintenance, it cannot be assured that routine preventive maintenance is performed or that equipment is repaired and ready for operational use,” The Inspector General office also noted.

“Security theater” is what security expert Bruce Schneier, a lecturer at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of government, calls most of what the TSA does. They’re “measures that make us feel safer without improving security… I’ve repeatedly said that the two things that have made flying safer since 9/11 are reinforcing the cockpit doors and persuading passengers that they need to fight back. Everything beyond that isn’t worth it.”

But, isn’t this an opportunity for us all? Given that the world is a better place when TSA employees and other government minions don’t do their jobs, and some are already seeking alternative employment, what a great opportunity to shut down their agencies, shrink the government, and make everybody’s lives a little better!

If it isn’t worth it, why pay for it?

Especially when the cost is measured in civil liberty as much as it is in dollars. It’s long past time we reevaluate just how “essential” large parts of the Feral Government really are. We pay for more government than we should want, and yet get less return on those payments than we need.  As for the “shutdown,” let’s keep a little perspective:

shutddown