Tag: protectionism

President Trump Has an Ambitious New Immigration Plan

Garrett Summers | @g_summ300

President Trump recently addressed a group of media and political officials in the White House Rose Garden to unveil his new plan to reform the US immigration system. Many ambitious changes will be made to a system that hasn’t seen much reform in the past few decades. The President wishes to create a Border Security Fund that will be supported by fees from trade on the US-Mexico border. With this fund, the President wishes to develop new technology that will scan “100% of everything” crossing the border. He went on to announce that over 400 miles of border wall should be finished by the end of 2020. President Trump also rolled out his plan to change the asylum and immigration systems.

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Trump’s Tariffs: A Tax on Us

Nickolas Roberson | United States

A newly published report by the Tax Foundation on the 5th of December has found that the Trump administration’s recently imposed tariffs on aluminum, steel, solar panels, and a plethora of other industrial goods from China will increase taxation on Americans by $42 billion.

A tariff, as defined by the said report, is “a type of excise tax that is levied on goods produced abroad at the time of import.” Their intent is to “increase consumption of goods manufactured at home by increasing the price of foreign-produced goods.” This pricing of foreign goods is artificially increased, as the government is taxing its citizens for purchasing and consuming products. Things affected are foods, such as bananas or rice, personal goods, such as televisions or furniture, or commercial goods that could be tractors, cars, airplanes, etc. Why? The governments of our world state that their intentions are to protect their domestic industries from the competition and “vices” of foreign businesses and companies. In reality, tariffs are further methods for big brother to increase his control over us, regulating our methods of voluntary exchange, what goods we trade, and by taking away our money in the form of extended taxation.

Regarding the Trump administration’s tariffs specifically, there will be a 25 percent tariff on imported steel ($7.3 billion tax increase), a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum ($1.7 billion tax increase), 25 percent tariff on imported goods from China that have a total value of $50 billion ($12.5 billion tax increase), and a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of other imports from China ($20 billion tax increase). Thus, as reported by the Tax Foundation, the overall tax increase will be near $42 billion on American citizens. Additionally, the administration threatened to implement another $129 billion worth of tariffs on more Chinese products and merchandise.

When analyzing the economic impacts of the President’s current protectionist tariffs, the Tax Foundation found that they would “reduce long-run GDP by 0.12 percent ($30.4 billion) and wages by 0.08 percent and eliminate 94,300 full-time equivalent jobs.” If the proposed tariffs are implemented as well, “long-run GDP would fall by 0.38 percent ($94.4 billion) and wages by 0.24 percent, and 292,600 full-time equivalent jobs would be eliminated.” It should be reiterated that tariffs are artificially increased prices of imported products and services by the government to discourage consumers from purchasing them. It is truly a form of taxation. No Chinese business or manufacturer is paying this tax, as the Trump administration continues to attempt to debate and establish.

Now, what are the origins of tariffs? For centuries, European nations practiced a trading system dubbed mercantilism, which attempted to prevent goods and services from leaving a home country, preventing trade value from leaving the said country. Incredibly high tariffs and other trade barriers were put into place, leading to high costs for manufactured goods and multiple trade wars throughout the world. However, in 1776, an economist named Adam Smith published his work titled Wealth of Nations.

This magnum opus regarding economics questioned the systems of mercantilism and proposed the idea of free trade: an economic theory that promoted competition between businesses and individuals across a global scale, voluntary trade without regulations such as tariffs, and no discrimination against imports or exports. As this new idea spread across the globe, nations and its citizens experienced a rapid flow of commerce, development of economies, and increases in productivity and innovation. The practice of the aforementioned theory was so successful. Organizations such as the World Trade Organization, NAFTA, and the European Union were developed to continue to promote its benefits to the human race.

Unfortunately, President Donald Trump and his administration seem to be ignoring this history of free trade and its plethora of benefits. With their tariffs, both current and proposed, competition will be stifled in the economy of the United States, resulting in higher prices for goods and services; jobs will be lost, GDP will fall, and the overall economy could possibly become a bear market. The next question that must be asked: will these tariffs counteract the benefits of Trump’s deregulation plan, with it increasing the economic freedom and reducing the regulatory costs of the nation? Furthermore, when will this expansion of government end? When will big brother stop raping and pillaging people for their capital and assets to pay off its own enormous debt? Only time will be able to answer this question, but one thing is obvious to the naked eye: the future of the United States of America is a foggy and obscure one.


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Intellectual Property: Enemy of Freedom and Society

By TJ Roberts | United States

You cannot own an idea. Although intellectual property is an idea Americans codified into their constitution, we must see that the idea of intellectual property is an idea that comes into direct conflict with the idea of freedom and human progress. It is important that humanity moves beyond the scourge of intellectual property so that we may live in a world that is no longer held back by corporate protectionism and inconsistent property law. But beyond that, lives are at stake in this fight.

Intellectual Property Violates Real Property

Lockean Property Norms

Perhaps the most important case against intellectual property is in its opposition to society’s property norms. The most prominent principle of property is the homesteading principle, which John Locke describes in chapter 5 of The Second Treatise on Government. In the Treatise, Locke explains that the Homesteading Principle is the idea that property can be justly acquired by two means: original appropriation and voluntary exchange. With original appropriation, the first user of a previously unowned resource becomes the de facto owner of the property. With voluntary exchange, justly acquired property may be exchanged between consenting senders and receivers. This is why theft is condemned. If I take your wallet from you without your consent, then the exchange was not voluntary and therefore violates Lockean property norms.

What is important to realize as well is that scarcity is fundamental to property. You cannot be the owner of a non-scarce good. In The Economics and Ethics of Private Property, Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe explains that in a realm of scarcity, property norms must be established. If, somehow, all scarcity ceased to exist (this would have to include scarcity in ourselves), then property norms would not be necessary. But in this world, scarcity is the cornerstone of Lockean property theory.

Ideas are Not Scarce

Since one cannot own a non-scarce good, it is the burden of the advocate of intellectual property to prove that ideas are scarce. If they do so, then intellectual property (IP) is legitimate. It is clear, however, that ideas are not scarce, and are therefore not subject to the restrictions of private property.

Consider a world in which only one person knows that two plus two equals four. If that person reveals this knowledge to someone else, that person knows that two plus two is four and the teacher still knows this. In other words, one’s acquisition of this knowledge did not inhibit another person from gaining the same piece of knowledge, and it did not degrade the knowledge the teacher originally had either. Because of this, knowledge is not scarce. Since knowledge is not scarce, we are not able to subject ideas to property norms.

Intellectual Property Assaults Private Property

Suppose I wrote a pamphlet and I sold it to you. For the law to tell you that you cannot reprint my pamphlet and sell it to others is to tell you what you cannot do with your private property. This is prohibitive on the sovereignty of the individual and private property. This is not, of course, meant to condone plagiarism. In “Common Misconceptions about Plagiarism and Patents: A Call for an Independent Inventor Defense,” patent lawyer Stephan Kinsella shows that IP “theft” is not plagiarism. Plagiarism wouldn’t run rampant without IP. One possible alternative to intellectual property is Creative Commons, which protects the fact that you created your work all the while not restricting your work to the bureaucracy of American intellectual property law.

Intellectual Property Holds Back Progress

One of the unique benefits of a market economy is that it incentivizes innovation. The consumer is in charge and their needs and desires frequently change. Competition, therefore, is essential to a prosperous market. Intellectual Property, however, holds back competition and protects those at the top. Imagine how much better technology would be if tech companies weren’t constantly under the threat of lawsuits from their competitors. If the focus changed from protecting one’s market power to providing a quality product for their customers in order to grow in the market, the world would have higher quality products at much lower costs.

Of course, progress has occurred in society, but that has happened in spite of intellectual property, not because of it. If we didn’t have intellectual property, software would be significantly cheaper as the potential costs of copying it would drastically decline. Inevitably, the only way for software companies to make a profit would be to provide a better product than their competitors since they won’t be able to artificially increase prices if they want to stay in business. If we abolished intellectual property, we would see a new age of progress.

Intellectual Property Has a Body Count

In 2016, Martin Shkreli raised the price of a life-saving medication to $750 per pill. This led to immense public outrage. But their rage was misplaced. The reason Shkreli was able to do this wasn’t corporate greed, but because of intellectual property. If people were able to copy the drug and sell it to compete with Shkreli’s company, such a price hike would have put him out of business.

This is just one of the innumerable symptoms of the disease of intellectual property. American IP law forbids competition against new ideas, especially medicines. Since a generic is effectively illegal for years after a cure is discovered, the poor are frequently left unable to pay for these life-saving medications. The abolition of intellectual property would save lives, allowing not only for prices to fall as competition rises, but also for quality of products to rise as innovation increases.

Intellectual Property Is the Enemy of Progress

In other words, intellectual property has failed the people. It is nothing more than corporate protectionism that flies in the face of Lockean property norms that has a very real cost to humanity. If we want a society that can advance quicker, allows for competition to drive prices down, and allow for a society based on consistent property norms, then we must reject the protectionist sham that is intellectual property.

Recommended Reading

Against Intellectual PropertyStephan Kinsella

Goods, Scarce and NonscarceStephan Kinsella and Jeffrey Tucker


This post was originally published in LIFE.

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True Libertarian Presidents III: Grover Cleveland

By Dane Larsen | United States

“It is better to be defeated standing for a high principle than to run by committing subterfuge.” -Grover Cleveland

On March 4th, 1885, a new President was inaugurated. One fresh face of a politician, who had only 3 years of experience in politics prior to being elected to Commander in Chief. Being the Mayor of Buffalo for 11 months, then the 28th Governor of New York for just over two years, Grover Cleveland brought many new ideals that alligned with the late-19th century American public.

Whether known for his rough around the edges attitude, or serving two terms as President, just 4 years, many people forget that much of the shrinking of government in wake of the 20th century should be credited to Grover Cleveland. After his first term, he was beat by Benjamin Harrison, a GOP candidate who was in office for 4 years, and messed up almost everything Cleveland did from 1885-89. From raising taxes on every tax bracket, to enforcing protectionist tariffs, or furthering the US’ involvement in Imperialism, Harrison was anything but Libertarian. So, in an effort to bring prosperity back the White House and D.C., Cleveland ran again in 1892, and won the election to be President for another 4 years, until he stepped out  of  power.

Economic Freedom

If anything, Cleveland is known for his “no nonsense” laissez-faire economics, combined with scaling down the size of government in all aspects, but in domestic finance policies primarily. He was known and recorded to have vetoed hundreds of crazy spending proposals, including omnibus budgets, enormous pension expansions, and needless capital boosts on the military’s power. Following through on his campaign promises, he also brought the national debt down, when it was still on the rebound from the Civil War.

Cleveland was a notable fighter against tariffs. In an address to Congress of 38 states at the time, he stated “it is indefensible extortion and a culpable betrayal of American fairness and justice”, to enact such taxes on goods that in all, hurt the American economy. He studied economics independently, as he only foresaw an Elementary education, yet he was up at the top of the class when he  was admitted to the New York Bar  in 1859. During a time where the idea of tariffs were gaining traction from the misinformed, and uninformed, Cleveland stuck to his word, vetoing double digits of tariff bills in office.

Lastly, the 22nd and 24th President of the USA was a firm believer in the gold standard, rather than a government-backed central bank which manipulates money at the general public’s expense. Shortly after he was inaugurated for the second time, there was a brief Depression that ensued over the United States, prompted by the failure of a railroad being built. Over one million Americans lost their jobs, and just under 400 banks closed. Cleveland overturned a Compromise bill that forced the use of silver in the monetary policy, passed by Benjamin Harrison before him. This gave the US a more sound economic position both domestically and in the world economy.

Non-Interventionism

Cleveland was also a strong opponent of the Imperialism movement of the late 19th century. While he fought against intervention into the Congo specifically, he also believed in the sovereign rights of states around the US. He believed that land shouldn’t be governed from far away, much like the Founding Fathers, and he proved this when he refused to annex Hawaii and other Caribbean colonies.

During his Presidency, Cleveland did use force to try to get his way in Latin America. Despite his lacks views of foreign policy and isolationism, he did have strong opinions on countries trying to intervene in the colonial puppets of Central and South America. When Great Britain tried to set up their Imperialist powers in countries like Jamaica, Honduras, Barbados, etc., Cleveland insisted that he spread military power to the regions to resist this imperialism. He did so with Congress approval, but he overstepped his boundaries, some say, to impose his own views on other governmental powers.

While the last act of aggression can be passed off because of its good intentions, the Scott Act of 1888 is inexcusable. During the heart of Chinese Exclusion of the United States,  the Scott Act “prohibited Chinese laborers abroad or who planned future travels from returning”. Much of what we see in the Protectionist movement in modern day America, both the Republican and Democratic parties in the late 1800’s were for limited immigration and semi-closed borders. According to the Department of Homeland Security, this denied access to between 20-30,000 potential workers.

Individual Autonomy

Cleveland’s views on rugged individualism and unalienable freedoms were more of the same, aligning with many of the libertarian-type people in power. Whether it was supporting state’s rights, the Bill of Rights, and autonomy from the state, Cleveland is much like Ulysses S. Grant, Warren G. Harding and other Libertarian Presidents of members of Congress who pushed liberty. Differently than his predecessors, however, Cleveland appointed his government employees by experience and knowledge of the job itself. By committing to a meritocracy, the POTUS set up a necessary precedent for the government to avoid nepotism, or anything of the sort.

Cleveland hits a speed bump here, where he gave in to the times he was born into. The Dawe’s Act is where Grover Cleveland signed into law, a bill which turned over a lot  of the remaining American Indian land, back to the government. It divided up the tribal land between the population of Native Americans, and the rest would be surplus, open for the white man. This broke apart the tribal structure and culture. Another fault in his Presidency was during the Pullman Strike, where Cleveland broke apart a Union of railroad workers with governmental force. He used the military and police departments to threaten with strength against this strike. Because this was a cause of concern for the general public, Cleveland intervened.

He had a short list of flaws, but some may not be looked over without batting an eye. Grover Cleveland did, however, align himself with a lot of modern libertarian beliefs, and did more good than harm in office.

 


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Months After Damage Began, Trump Reverses Course on Tariffs

By Indri Schaelicke | United States

For months now, it seems that everyone but the president himself has been shouting about the harms of protectionist trade policies. Despite all the outrage, though, the President has stuck to his plan, slapping China and the EU with high tariffs.

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