We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

In a recent comedy routine, Chappelle provided a succinct explanation of why it makes more sense for the United States to import some goods from China rather than try to pursue a protectionist trade policy aimed at producing everything domestically. Chappelle summarized President Trump’s position vis-à-vis China: “I’m gonna go to China, and I’m gonna get these jobs from China and bring ‘em back to America.” Chappelle then interrupted his Trump soliloquy, asking: “For what, so iPhones can be $9,000? Leave that job in China where it belongs … I wanna wear Nikes, I don’t wanna make those things. Stop trying to give us Chinese jobs.”

Allan Golombek

123 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Jacob

    This is true, but not entirely. You have to pay for those Nikes – where do you get the money to pay for them? From social security checks? From the money the Fed prints like mad and sells the gullible Chinese as “treasuries”? It is not sustainable…. Not that Trump has any remedy, he only has some sort of point.

  • Jacob

    Free movement of people and merchandise is some kind of axiom for libertarians, never to be doubted or questioned even.
    But, it is not hard to understand that such free movement will cause, in the long run, some equalization of living standards between all countries.

    It is understandable that Americans won’t be happy with their lifestyles being equalized to China’s or India’s.

  • Bob

    This is master level.

    1. Be a comedian,
    2. Lampoon “that clown” Trump,
    3. Relate a poor policy to the “hated” Trump
    4. (BONUS POINTS) – use BRANDS that others have invested millions in getting everyone to care about
    5. Pithily show the stupidity of the policy
    6. Make audience laugh at (and invest their ego in deploring) the idiocy of the idiotic position
    7. Mic drop / Disneyland / Fellowship at the Hoover Institution

  • You have to pay for those Nikes – where do you get the money to pay for them?

    Er, because there are no other ways to make money other that the ways in which China currently has a comparative advantage?

    Free movement of people and merchandise is some kind of axiom for libertarians, never to be doubted or questioned even.

    Feel free to live without all the cheap goodies and we’ll talk about your standard of living then (which is why the iphone example is quite apposite). Your standard of living also goes down if everything gets a lot more expensive relative to what you are earning.

    It is understandable that Americans won’t be happy with their lifestyles being equalized to China’s or India’s

    I look forward to that with great enthusiasm, given that India and China are moving up a great deal faster than the USA is going down (indeed the USA is not going down at all). Avoid the fixed quantity of wealth fallacy.

  • Bob

    Also avoid the “fixed QUANTITY of wealth fallacy”.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    A multimillionaire says we don’t want “Chinese jobs”. Who is the ‘we’ he thinks he is speaking for exactly?

  • Who is the ‘we’ he thinks he is speaking for exactly?

    Well yes, I suppose it must be said he is probably not speaking for the USA’s substantial number of new immigrants from the Third World, that much is true, good catch 😆

  • bobby b

    I also doubt that he speaks for the great swaths of unemployed American workers in what used to be the manufacturing centers of the country.

    It’s all well and good to speak of how we should let the Chinese do what they do the cheapest so that we’re freed up to do what we do the cheapest, but when nothing shows up to replace the jobs that we’ve now decided the Chinese do the cheapest, the free trade paradigm frays a bit.

  • but when nothing shows up to replace the jobs that we’ve now decided the Chinese do the cheapest, the free trade paradigm frays a bit

    Well then deregulate the economy so something does show up, or prepare to start expecting American workers working for Chinese level wages (which of course won’t happen, and as people want cheap goods, that means buying them from China). But frankly where is all this terrible unemployment in the USA that you seem to be alluding to?

    US unemployment rate stood at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent in January 2018

  • pete

    How much does it cost to keep people on benefits or to treat them for drug addiction caused by the boredom of unemployment?

    Better to pay a little more to buy phones and shoes and to export social problems like unemployment to China.

  • john malpas

    start a war. Always good for employment

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Jacob, do stop maligning all libertarians! ‘Libertarian’ is an adjective with many meanings, but it usually implies principles that oppose centralism. Some libertarians go all the way and say we should get rid of all governments, but the majority of libertarians don’t go that far. I call my own approach ‘Pro-localism’, with the motto ‘Locals, Rule!’ I think that local levels of government should have complete power within local boundaries. As a close example, look at Switzerland. Their Confederation of Cantons is better than many top-heavy systems. And they have borders and armies.

  • Fred Z

    pete, I would go with “Better to pay a little more to buy phones and shoes…” for some period of time as I too feel a duty to fellow citizens to cushion them from shock.

    But how much and how long?

    And how to keep the sticky fingers of politicos and bureaucrats out of the money pot? That’s where my hopes collapse. Can’t be done. If we tax imports a teeny tiny bit temporarily to look after displaced workers we all know what will happen. Teeny, tiny will metastasize to yuuuuge and temporary will be redefined to mean permanent.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    But frankly where is all this terrible unemployment in the USA that you seem to be alluding to?

    In 1 of every 5 American families there is not even one person who works.

    http://freebeacon.com/issues/1-5-families-u-s-no-one-works/

    But the “official” unemployment rate doesn’t count men and women like G. — discouraged workers who have settled for part-time jobs or have given up looking altogether. Tracking those individuals, under what’s called the “U-6” rate, gives a very different measure of the nation’s unemployment rate: 14.3%.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/07/05/why-the-real-unemployment-rate-is-higher-than-you-think/#144395b71b34

    Of the ~205 million people who were 18 – 65 in 2015, only 88 million of them were workers. Over 20 million of those 88 million were part-time workers.

    https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/famee.pdf

    So that’s an unemployment rate of 122/205 = 59.5%. Of course the unemployment rate was reported by the BLS to be 5.8%.

    Now, it is true that many, perhaps even most, of those American adults who were not employed were not seeking work. They may not be seeking work because they are full-time mothers or because they would rather be on welfare than show up at a crappy job everyday or because they are trust fund babies or because they are homeless or get money by dealing drugs or running an escort service instead of a legal job.

    Or maybe they are more or less competent people (even college grads!) who want to work but can’t find work. The BLS has interesting ways of defining the people who are in the labor force participation number. Are people who look for work for over a year and then stop looking because they can’t get one are not counted in the unemployment number? Depends, but often no.

    What percentage of those 59.5% of American adults who were not employed (part time or full time) were not “seeking work”? The BLS says it was about 90% of them which is how they came to a 5.8% “unemployment rate”. I have my doubts.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    And isn’t the latest iPhone selling for about $1k? Would it really be so terrible to produce more of the component parts of that iPhone in America instead of overseas?

    Don’t worry, libertarians can still enjoy their super-cheap $1,000 iPhone but instead of insane profit margins sending most of those $1k cash flows into Apple’s balance sheet would it really be so terrible if more of those go into the pockets of Joe in Michigan or Bob in Ohio who are currently snorting heroin instead of looking for a job and are thus not counted in the low unemployment rate we all cherish so dearly.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Who is the ‘we’ he thinks he is speaking for exactly?

    Well yes, I suppose it must be said he is probably not speaking for the USA’s substantial number of new immigrants from the Third World, that much is true, good catch 😆

    Ah yes. Because of all the Americans who are not “new immigrants from the Third World” not a single one could possibly ever want a “Chinese job”. Excellent point! As good as my catch was, I assure you that yours is so much better.

  • Brian Swisher

    Oh, FFS, Nicholas, you haven’t experienced Portland City and Metro government, so you don’t know how bad it can get. I’m on record for replacing them all with Labrador Retrievers, which would add an infusion of brains to the whole system.

  • Radu

    “Would it really be so terrible to produce more of the component parts of that iPhone in America instead of overseas?” – trick question. This in a vacuum is not terrible neither is is good. What is not good is government telling private business where they can produce their goods, telling people where the goods they buy must be produced. Eventually it would not be so “terrible” for the US government to also impose some price control on iphones so Joe in Michigan or Bob in Ohio can buy one instead of the money going into an “insane” profit margin.

    By the way at what point does a profit margin become insane? And what are the rankings on profit margins? good great insane rapist murderous I assume

  • The Wobbly Guy

    There’s always a bit of a disconnect – if a government allows free movement of capital, by what principle does it disallow free movement of labour?

    One way to square the circle would be to allow free movement of labour – but they will never become citizens. Just helots for the modern age.

    Which is, I hasten to assure you, not such a bad thing.

  • The faith in state direction of the economy on display here is touching.

  • ragingnick

    A country that does not produce but only consumes with credit is doomed.
    And never mind the sea of Americans left without hope and without work, with nowhere left to turn but to addiction and despair, all collateral damage in pursuit of the globalist agenda.
    Trump is as with most things bang on here, bring manufacturing jobs back to America: So metropolitan types will have to pay a tiny bit extra for their latest bit of narcissism enhancing gadgetry, well cry me a river.

  • Quite so, Radu. It will go exactly like that: force up cost of products with Autarkic policies -> force down profit margins with state price controls -> subsidise exports of uncompetitively produced products.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • bobby b

    One of the largest “free trade” arrangements in recent history – which opened borders and coordinated rules and facilitated easy international personal choice – is called the European Union. How’d that do in terms of getting the state out of running the economy?

    Ever peruse any of the trade agreements between China and the USA? Certain producers here with political pull can do certain things over there, their state-run companies can do certain things over here, bonding and underwriting and settlements will go through two or three named connected megafirms with pull, specific industries with government’s ear get new markets if they support the right congresscritters . . .

    Frankly, “free trade” seems to involve and grow government far more than dealing locally.

  • Eric

    US unemployment rate stood at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent in January 2018

    That’s because they don’t count people on disability and people who’ve just given up looking for a job. Labor force participation is still about as low as it’s been since before women completed their entry into the workforce.

    Americans in demographics which used to be able to get ahead in relatively highly paid manufacturing jobs are looking at jobs that pay no better than the dole. It’s not really fair to look at those people and say “Well, sure, you make half what your parents made, but just think of all those happy Chinese guys! You should start an internet company.”

  • How’d that do in terms of getting the state out of running the economy?

    Badly in many ways (although compared to the 1970s, not bad actually). This was one of the reasons I supported Brexit, as that way we only need to win our political fights for deregulation in Westminster and not Brussels as well. But the EU was never a ‘free trade’ agreement, so your entire thesis makes no sense. You seem to be saying “we have states making international trade agreements that are not free trade agreements, which proves free trade is a terrible thing.”

  • Mr Black

    Off-shoring is mostly a response to a terrible regulatory environment and inefficient business management. Cheap foreign labor is a temporary state that is allowing the local problems to persist, making that labor harder to utilise will force business to update their practices.

  • bobby b

    I wonder if a lot of this disagreement stems not from actual differences in how much control we’d all like to cede to government, but from definitional mismatches.

    One side seems to read “free trade” as its definitional ideal – bureaucrats all stay home, the border fences fall over, and we all rush to each others’ sides and commence making bargains that were previously denied to us.

    The other reads “free trade” as the term has come to mean – our governments huddle together and make directed deals that benefit a very few chosen entities who have shown their loyalty and support to their government, such as Apple, or even the tech industry whales.

    In my experience, free trade deals have resulted in spectacular benefits for those entities selected as winners by government, plus the huge financing and settling entities which benefit no matter which winners government selects. “Free trade”, to me, has come to symbolize just another avenue for bureaucrats to funnel money to their friends and supporters. Not being a friend or supporter of government, “free trade” leaves me cold.

    I have never seen instances of the “free trade” set out in the first definition above except when national borders have been dissolved. When we speak of “free trade”, we should have the European Union in mind instead of some idealized Nirvana.

    (ETA: “You seem to be saying “we have states making international trade agreements that are not free trade agreements, which proves free trade is a terrible thing.”” – It’s more that I’m saying that that may not be what you mean when you say “free trade”, but that is exclusively what “free trade” consists of today.”)

  • we should have the European Union in mind instead of some idealized Nirvana.

    Hardly, it is just about the worst example of a free trade area. Brussels is a fountain of regulations in a way that makes it *utterly* different to, say, NAFTA. Do you have lawmakers in Vancouver or Mexico City setting standards for products made and sold in the USA?

  • Philip Scott Thomas

    Since we talking about iPhones, here’s a question for you all. What percentages of the cost of manufacturing an iPhone are ascribable to a) components, b) assembly labour, and c) intellectual property rights? If you had read your Worstall you’d know that a) and b) amount to, near as damn it, sweet FA. They simply aren’t jobs worth re-patriating to the US. The real money is in the design of the phone and its associated patents. And guess where those jobs are. Yep, right there in Cupertino, in the good ol’ US of A.

    So the problem is what exactly? And how does it contradict anything Perry has said?

  • Off-shoring is mostly a response to a terrible regulatory environment and inefficient business management.

    Yes now THIS is actually getting closer to the truth.

  • I’m with Shlomo that “we” in Allan Golombek’s mouth comes across as arrogant.

    I’m with Perry on the idea that the economic law of comparative advantage is not repealable.

    We impose sanctions on North Korea because we have not (yet) found the nerve and/or the means to deal with them more effectively. I see today’s increasingly aggressive China, where such freedom as there was seems in retreat, as a political danger requiring countermeasures. I also see it as guilty of very extensive IP theft. If Trump can sanction North Korea for political effect, he can ‘sanction’ China. If Trump can think of taxing illegals’ remittances to Mexico, he can think of ‘taxing’ China to recover IP dues.

    I’m no fan of protectionism that is protectionism pure and simple. I’ll see what is actually done (if anything at all is in fact actually done!) and then review what mix of ostensible reasons and actual effects it has, before deciding whether the current US administration is in fact more protectionist than its predecessors.

  • bobby b

    “But the EU was never a ‘free trade’ agreement . . . “

    From my far-away seat, the EU was formed for two purposes: to create one unified bloc of nations which could deal with the rest of the world with all of the powers and leverages that unification could provide, and to create within its boundaries a more borderless and frictionless set of trading partners who could buy and sell with decreased regulation and state interference.

    Maybe it wasn’t your idealized “free trade agreement”, but it certainly seems to have been a “freer-trade agreement” – which, in a world of governments and borders, is the best that we can hope for.

    Sadly, it also created its own new higher level of government to watch over the process, but that seems to be the norm in every “free trade agreement” that I’ve ever seen.

  • bobby b

    The new SQotD post above this post contains this sentence:

    “Next time you hear someone talking about the triumph of ‘neo-liberalism’, or the prevalence of free markets, remind them that the financial markets have been explicitly state-dependent for a decade.”

    Ties in nicely with the theme that every agreement in our current age which purports to serve “free trade” instead serves a highly bastardized concept of that phrase. Every “free trade agreement” entered into in the last decade has been explicitly state-designed and structured to direct its benefits to state-chosen winners.

    My whole point is this: I’ll join with you in arguing for true and actual free trade, should such a thing ever become possible. But your arguments are being used to push cronyism and governmental control programs which do not simply carry through on the promise of the law of comparative advantage. The current usage of “free trade” simply provides another life cycle of the lamprey of government.

    (If you don’t have lamprey eels, just know that a lamprey is a parasitic fish that fastens itself onto the body of any other fish and, over time, sucks the life from it.)

  • Alisa

    The faith in state direction of the economy on display here is touching.

    As is the faith in sudden across-the-board deregulation of…well, of everything. Mind you, Trump is deregulating, a lot, but even he can’t do it all in one year. (Plus, he does not seem to be impeding nearly as much of “free” trade as is being made out, not least by the man himself). In the mean time, real Americans are struggling, many through no fault of their own. Giving them a bit of a break by means that are actually available at the moment (rather than by means that may materialize even as early as 3 years from now) is far from perfect, but at least somewhat sensible.

    Also, some additional perspective on employment statistics.

  • …who could buy and sell with decreased regulation and state interference.

    And this is where you fundamentally misunderstand the EU. It is a trading bloc within which you could buy and sell with the same regulations. And that is a materially different thing. I was initially a supporter of the EEC and I actually worked for the European Investment Bank, as I assumed the process of ‘harmonisation’ would inevitably end up harmonising downwards. How very wrong I was.

  • As is the faith in sudden across-the-board deregulation of…well, of everything.

    Guilty as charged, but that is certainly what I think.

    Mind you, Trump is deregulating, a lot, but even he can’t do it all in one year.

    Indeed he is and I did not post this SQOTD as part of a blanket denunciation of all things Trump on my part, just as part of where I think he is quite wrong.

  • Alisa

    You seem to be saying “we have states making international trade agreements that are not free trade agreements, which proves free trade is a terrible thing.”

    No, what it proves is that free trade is non-existent (as it has been for many decades), and so all the talk of impending it is based on a false premise.

  • Jacob

    Here is a theoretical question: I’m all for absolute free trade and free movement of people and merchandise. No “free trade” agreements between governments, just free trade with no government interference.
    This position is, of course, idealistic, Utopian and unrealistic. But let’s imagine it for a moment.
    Doesn’t logic require that this state of affairs will cause a gradual equalization of standards of living across the globe? To which Perry replies: “Avoid the fixed quantity of wealth fallacy.” Good slogan. What would be the “equalized” global standard of living? One can only guess…

    All this doesn’t mean that Trump or anyone else has a solution to this dilemma, or that governments have ways of improving over a natural situation.

  • Alisa

    Guilty as charged, but that is certainly what I think.

    Yep, same here, but that is only one level of my thinking – there is also another level of it, one that is connected to actual reality.

  • bobby b

    “I was initially a supporter of the EEC and I actually worked for the European Investment Bank, as I assumed the process of ‘harmonisation’ would inevitably end up harmonising downwards. How very wrong I was.”

    But it’ll work this time, right? 😛

    Maybe I’m just too cynical. You see talk of future free trade as a concrete possibility – a glass half full. I see it as being held out in front of me on a hot day to entice me to vote for the holder, but handed over to the holder’s brother-in-law to drink as soon as I’ve voted. The EEC was supposed to do what you thought it would do. “Free trade” is supposed to be free. We see where it always goes.

    Free trade is one plank in the libertarian belief system. But until one speaks of two libertarian societies dealing freely with each other, it’s always going to be just another spoils system, another tool for the cronyists to manipulate. In our current form, people in the USA cannot have true free trade with anyone. Neither can Europe or China or . . . anyone.

    Other libertarian impulses need to be accomplished first – such as shrinking government regulation and control before handing over control of more “free trade” agreements to government.

  • Alisa

    Niall’s last comment (as all Bobby’s comments so far) pretty much sums up my position – see the ‘connection to reality’ point. To that end, I have a question: can anyone provide a brief summary of the steps this administration has actually taken so far on the issue of international trade? Tariffs, subsidies, anything related?

  • staghounds

    Radu, according to the Guardian (page 16) and New York Times (Section A-1(b7) style books, the profit margin rankings are (lowest to highest)

    Fair*
    Reasonable*
    Unjust
    Excessive
    Obscene
    Robber Baron/Gilded Age
    Insane
    Republican (British spelling, “Tory”)

    It was once thought that “Unsustainable” was a profit margin, but all actual observed profit margins have been found to be unsustainable.

    *These are theoretical categories only, all actually observed profit margins must be decreased to achieve either of them.

  • Good slogan. What would be the “equalized” global standard of living? One can only guess…

    One need not guess at all, the evidence is right in front of us. You want to know what it looks like? Go to Shenzhen right now. Go to Warsaw.

    There is now a large middle class in what used to be parts of the Second or Third World, that is what a globalised ‘equalised’ (well, less less unequal really) standard of living looks like. It means billions more people becoming part of a market for goods and services, rather than eking out a tenuous subsistence existence.

  • Greg

    What Schlomo said (at 1:45am) – I’ve seen no response to his destruction of the 5.8% “unemployment” figure.

    Perry was right to ask “where is all this terrible unemployment in the USA that you seem to be alluding to?”

    Schlomo answered.

  • there is also another level of it, one that is connected to actual reality.

    We have people who clearly see where things need to head, now we just have to fight the political battles to move things in that direction. That is the connection to reality.

  • Schlomo answered.

    It wasn’t a serious answer so I ignored it. The state is bending over backwards to keep people out of employment with taxes and regulations, and in any case, if you think US workers are clamouring for very low pay production line work (and if it isn’t low pay, good luck selling your product), then you are as mistaken as he is (and that’s saying something). If manufacturing it ‘brought back’ to the USA by state diktat and barriers rather than by deregulation and liberalisation, well I suppose there is one upside: I will invest in US based robotics companies as I can see them really taking off.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . what it proves is that free trade is non-existent . . . “

    This. Free trade cannot exist between fundamentally unfree societies. Here, the printout of regulations touching on the handling and sale of a cow weighs more than the cow.

  • Alisa

    I’d happily vote for Rees-Mogg if I could, Perry, but what does that have to do with anything here? If we keep telling the unwillingly unemployed in the US that they are just fodder for this “free trade” mirage, the US equivalents of Rees-Mogg will never gain any traction there – and yet, that is what Chappelle and the consequent article are doing: they are countering an oversimplification that is at the base of the autarkic sentiment by presenting a different oversimplification bordering on a straw man. They are speaking way above the eye-level of the very people they should be addressing, and that is not constructive.

  • Jacob

    “Go to Shenzhen right now. Go to Warsaw.”
    Go to New Delhi, go to Lagos…

    Anyway, though such standards of living might be tolerable or maybe even “just” – the Americans won’t be enthusiastic to be dragged down there.

    As to unemployment – Shlomo Maistre’s numbers are probably correct – more than half of work-aged people do not work. Many because they don’t want or don’t need to work, but many also because they prefer to live off welfare rather than take boring, low paid jobs.

    That is why the US needs about 1.4 million LEGAL immigrants each year, for the last 40 years, to be doing these necessary tasks, that those tens of millions of Americans on welfare refuse to do. That is why they bring to the US an illiterate African refugee with 8 children to do a meat-cutting job.

    Something stinks here, it’s the welfare state, of course. If I’m not mistaken, there isn’t much of a welfare state in Shenzhen.

  • Rob Fisher

    “telling the unwillingly unemployed in the US that they are just fodder”

    Surely you just deregulate, cut taxes, and wait for everyone to get richer. No need to mess about with trade at all.

  • Alisa

    Yes Rob, now where’s my magic wand… Chappelle is not an economic-policy adviser, he’s supposed to be a regular person speaking to and for regular people, many among them are in fact unwillingly unemployed (unlike himself, I may add). As such, he is completely missing their perspective, tells them nothing they have not heard before, and contributes nothing to their better understanding of the issue.

  • Alisa

    More to the point:

    Surely you just deregulate, cut taxes, and wait for everyone to get richer.

    First, you don’t deregulate overnight – if you do, I’d like to hear exactly how. Second, you don’t just cut taxes without first cutting spending – and here also, I’d like to hear practical and politically feasible suggestions. I promise to relay both to the relevant people within the administration and Congress. Third, a deregulation process is underway, but it is much slower than realistically possible (yeah, I’m surprised too), while spending… do you really want to discuss that, in practical political terms?

  • CaptDMO

    Oh yeah, I want me some of those $500+ Air Jordon glued together plastic and “fabric” shoes from China.
    “Round here (Northern New England) where shoe manufacture, using water wheel “energy” used to be a thing, until the manufacturing migrated to (ie)China, there are still a few leather, sewn, replaceable sole shoe makers.
    Problem is, with appropriate care, the shoes have a tendency to outlive the owners.
    Heavy use,in a metal fabrication shop, “Texas Steer” (China) work boots lasted 8 months at best.
    For twice the cost, US made “Timberland” would last 27 mos. US made “Chippewa” even longer .
    Of course, eventually, Timberland, and Chippewa, BOTH had the majority of their lines made in China.
    Of course, THIS plaint only concerns foot wear.

  • Alisa

    but it is much slower than realistically possible

    No idea where that came from – obviously, should have been ‘slower than I would like’ or something similar. I guess I was too busy being snarky, for which I apologize.

  • Jacob

    Maistre:
    “Of the ~205 million people who were 18 – 65 in 2015, only 88 million of them were workers. Over 20 million of those 88 million were part-time workers.”

    Of those 205 million people 18-65 – about 20 million were college students.
    Another ~50 million were people with disabilities, though 40% of them did work, so ~30 million people unemployed because of disability.
    So the employed were about 88/155 =~ 57% and the people who dropped from the work force – 43% “only”.

    It is very difficult to count how many didn’t work because they were rich, how many because they worked “undocummented” and how many on welfare

  • I’d happily vote for Rees-Mogg if I could, Perry, but what does that have to do with anything here?

    It has everything to do with this! People calling for free trade (or even freer trade) are not just bonkers libertarians on this blog, but serious politicians. It is a fight that can and must be won.

  • Anyway, though such standards of living might be tolerable or maybe even “just” – the Americans won’t be enthusiastic to be dragged down there.

    Oh really? You think living in a city that looks like Shenzhen would be a step down for a lot of Americans living in Detroit? And sure, Lagos is a shithole but so is Flint, so it much of Detroit, so actually that equalisation of living standards might not mean what you think it does. It is by no means clear that Delhi will not be a reasonable place to live 20 years from now the way Shenzhen is now (15 years ago, Shenzhen was mostly factories, but now look at it). Lagos however, not so sure that will ever be anything other than a shithole.

  • CaptDMO: Problem is, with appropriate care, the shoes have a tendency to outlive the owners.

    I tend to buy RM Williams shoes made in Australia, so there is a market for things that are made in the First World, just not at the low end.

  • Alisa

    It is a fight that can and must be won.

    Yes, and it cannot be won unless it is framed in terms to which ordinary people can relate. True, they can and do relate to cheap phones and shoes, but they relate to employment and lack thereof much more strongly, and rightly so.

  • bobby b

    I wonder about the Shenzhen/Warsaw examples. Maybe if we’re only equalizing first-world countries . . .

    Neal Stephenson in his “Snow Crash” posited that the more appropriate example of what the world would look like were everything evened out was the living standard of a Pakistani brickmaker, which strikes me as several rungs below what you’d find in Shenzhen or Warsaw. Or Detroit.

  • Jacob

    Well, Shenzhen is a special case, home to some 12-18 million of China’s 1400 million people. I haven’t been there and it sure looks nice, but, probably, the numerous shantytowns around haven’t been shown.
    No, you’ll find fine buildings and malls in New Delhi, too. Every third-world city has some nice, central, luxurious quarter, drowning in a sea of horrible shantytowns, which are much worse than the worst slums in the US.

    “It is by no means clear that Delhi will not be a reasonable place to live 20 years from now…”
    Delhi (New Delhi) was a reasonable place to live for the British colonial persons, who built themselves a garden enclave behind high walls, serviced by armies of local servants.
    But, no, Delhi in general will not be anything else than a terrible shithole, not for the next 20 years but for the next 200 years, at least. It is not clear even which direction it is heading…

    And, lets not mention Bombay or Calcutta…. and thse are the best there are in India….

  • Jacob

    Here are some random photos of slums or shantytowns….

    They don’t look at all like Detroit slums, where every house has electricity and running water, and sewage, and a TV with cable connection, and refrigerator and washing machine and most also a car (albeit an old one).

  • Jacob

    “Oh really? You think living in a city that looks like Shenzhen would be a step down for a lot of Americans “….

    You can live well in any city, even a terrible shithole, as long as you have money.
    What needs to be compared is how the big, poor, masses live in India, China or Detroit.

  • Mr Ed

    Jacob,

    That link you put in starts with a polemic in Spanish about the disproportionate impact of alleged climate change on the poor. Sounds far from random to me.

  • Paul Marks

    The Free Trade of the Classical Liberal economists was about buying some goods from overseas and selling other goods in return. It was NOT about borrowing hundreds of billions of Dollars a year to fund CONSUMPTION.

    I keep making this simple point and modern “free traders” (who the Classical free traders would have been horrified by) pretend they do not understand, or that “the balance of payments” does not matter. Borrowing hundreds of billions of Dollars a year to finance consumption, this very much matters. It matters a great deal – and I despair of people (including academic economists) who deliberately refuse to see the obvious.

    The present situation the United States (and the United Kingdom) is in is NOT sustainable. One can not just keep borrowing money and importing consumption goods from other countries. An economy is NOT based on consumption (as cretins maintain it is) an economy is based on actually producing goods. A population should WORK before they consume.

    Are taxes on imports the answer? Of course NOT (although importers should be taxed EQUALLY with domestic producers – which implies that governments should rely on sales taxes rather than company taxation) – but the refusal to see that countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom are destroying themselves with a lack of Real Savings, and by wild borrowing and consumption, is deeply alarming.

  • Paul Marks

    A fundamental change in economic policy and, I strongly suspect, CULTURE is needed – desperately needed. A return to the culture of hard work and thrift (Real Savings – not Credit Bubbles and banker fake account books that pretend that one can lend money and still have the same money, or that one can create money by the stroke of a pen or a computer key). However, I fear that the harsh teacher of starvation will have do its work – before this lesson is learned.

    As for the People’s Republic of China – their exporters are indeed privately owned (for the most part), but they serve, FINANCE, the purpose of the Communist Party state and that purpose is (to put the matter brutally) military modernisation and conquest – unlimited conquest. People should think about that when they buy Chinese goods – such people may well be signing the death warrants of other people, indeed perhaps the death warrant of themselves and their families. Of course they should be free to do this – but they should think about what they are doing, and understand the choice that they are making.

    What can we learn from the economic policy of the People’s Republic of China? The importance of manufacturing is an obvious lesson – but the secret of Chinese success is that hundreds of millions of people in China (the people from the rural areas who go to the cities) do NOT have “rights” to government benefits and “public services”.

    As recently as 1960 the United States had (basically) no great government benefits and “public services” – the economy and SOCIETY of the United States in 1960 would have nothing to fear from the PRC. It is domestic decay (the corruption of policy and society – the culture) that has laid America open to its enemies.

  • Old Hoosier

    They don’t look at all like Detroit slums, where every house has electricity and running water, and sewage, and a TV with cable connection, and refrigerator and washing machine and most also a car (albeit an old one).

    Sweet Jesus, have you ever actually been there? El Presidente has a genuine shithole or two right here in the good ol’ US of A, bequeathed to us by the Democratic Party (naturally) and Detroit sure is one of ’em.

    I’m kinda blown away and a bit terrified by that link to Shenzhen (which I’d never heard of), because after a bit of googling, I realised the only reason I wouldn’t wanna live there is it’s in China.

  • Paul Marks

    “Economic reform in China will lead to political reform – they will no longer seek our destruction”.

    Economic reform in the PRC started in 1978 – it has NOT led to political reform and it will NOT lead to political reform. The PRC leadership wants other people dead or enslaved. And if we choose to finance our own destruction that amuses them.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Hey, Swisher! Pro-Localism is still the best polity! The beauty of small governments is that you can ESCAPE!

  • Jacob

    Mr Ed,
    The link I posted above is a random collection of photos from shantytowns. It gives a very rough idea of what a shantytown is. Billions of people live in such shantytowns all over the world.
    (the climate change reference just happened to be present in one of the pictures and is, of course irrelevant).
    I’m sure there are shantytowns around Shenzhen too (though I don’t know it), there are everywhere.

    Old Hoosier:
    Very interesting video of an ABANDONED Detroit quarter – no people live there.
    Billions of people all over the world actually live in shantytowns like the ones seen in my link. They exist from South (and central) America, Mexico, all of Africa, India, China, Indonesia, the Philippines.
    I haven’t seen such horrible shantytowns in the US or Europe.

  • Bharata Vishwanath

    But, no, Delhi in general will not be anything else than a terrible shithole, not for the next 20 years but for the next 200 years, at least. It is not clear even which direction it is heading… And, lets not mention Bombay or Calcutta…. and thse are the best there are in India….

    you know nothing of india. since liberalisation & end of permit raj, middle class has grown and grown, and growing middle class is always the key to development of every kind. in 20 yrs India will be unrecognisable.

  • Jacob

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt any feeling or insult anyone, the words I used were rude and I appologize.

    “in 20 yrs India will be unrecognizable”

    I admire your great optimism…. I hope it will be… but I have doubts.
    I know you can find in India the best of everything, scientists, chess champions, world class businessmen…
    The problem is with the masses… the big, big, multitudes…

  • Jacob

    Poverty in India – photos
    Depth of poverty

    Since 2007, India set its official threshold at ₹ 26 a day ($0.43) in rural areas and about ₹ 32 per day ($0.53) in urban areas. While these numbers are lower than the World Bank’s $1.25 per day income-based definition, the definition is similar to China’s US$0.65 per day official poverty line in 2008.

    …estimated 23.6% of Indian population, or about 276 million people, lived below $1.25 per day on purchasing power parity.

    See, the “poverty line” is very flexible and is set according to propaganda goals… good luck with living on 0.65$ or even 1.25$ a day.

    No, the poverty problem in India is huge, it won’t disappear in 20 years…

  • Jacob, you have a real talent for posting things that are true and yet utterly irrelevant. No one is saying there are not a lot of poor people in India or China, just that they are immensely richer places than they were by a staggering margin compared to 100, 50, 25 years ago. Indoor flush toilets were by no means universal in what is now the ‘First World’ 100 years ago & in many places that was true even 50 years ago. Malnutrition & rickets was common in Britain in the 1920 & 30s.

  • Alisa

    I am not optimistic about India’s foreseeable future either, but not because of its current poverty, no matter how great, but because the problems India is facing are at their root cultural and systemic (which is why Perry’s link above is relevant, and yet not so much). Cultures do adjust and even change, as do systems – but it takes time, and frankly, luck (hence ‘foreseeable future’).

    Bharata Vishwanath above is certainly correct that today’s India is much, much better than in the not-so-distant past, and I am certain that it will continue making strides forward. However, the subtext of this thread is comparing different countries at specific points in time (like, right now and maybe a decade or two from now), not comparing one country’s past to its present or possible future. And I am not saying that either frame of comparison is more valid or preferable, just pointing out the context.

  • Jacob

    “just that they are immensely richer places than they were”

    Get off romantic jabbering and do some cold blooded, quantitative thinking. What does “immensely richer” mean? That they lived off 1 dollar a day 20 years ago, but earn now 2 dollars? That’s an “immense” difference, but totally meaningless for our debate. Remember the issue was if Americans would be happy to have their living standards “equalized” to the rest of the world.

    No, poverty in India, in abhorrent levels of poverty and abhorrent NUMBERS (of poor) will never disappear. NEVER.
    Hordes of people, philosophers, ideologues, poets and do-gooders (mostly idiots and charlatans) were always waging war on poverty and promising us that Utopia is near and poverty will be abolished, and the Garden of Eden will be back (if only we invested them with the power).

    You must appreciate the hugeness of the problem, the depth of the poverty, and the huge numbers of poor. You can write congratulatory papers on the huge advance in reducing extreme poverty (using fancy numbers manipulation). Irrelevant. Poverty is the natural state, and will be with us forever.

    Our friend Bharata Vishwanath writes: “the middle class [in India] has grown and grown”. True, But the middle class in India lives in stinking neighborhoods where garbage is rotting in 40-45 degC temps, in the streets, sewers (where they exist) are overflowing, electricity is available on and off (maybe 50% of the time), water is scarce, supplied in bottles brought in by enterpreneurs by tuk-tuk. Small open gardens between blocks of middle class apartments need to be protected by a very solid iron fence and armed guards – against squatters, and every free inch of land outside the block compound is occupied by shantytowns and squatters. Ah, and the apartment block themselves were dirty, unkept, unpainted, of horrible aspect. That’s your “middle class”.

    Well, there you are… poverty won the war. Poverty dominates the world as far as area or numbers are concerned.

  • Jacob

    Why does the World Bank and the Indian and Chinese Governments use such ridiculous “poverty” definitions – O.53. or 0.65 or 1.25 dollars a day? I assure you that at such levels you are permanently hungry (undernourished). So why the low bar? Because at this level you can report a “tolerable” proportion of poor, about a 1/3, or 300 million here, 400 million there.

    If they put the bar at, say, 5 dollars a day (a level where you possibly are not undernourished) they would have to report the proportion of poor people as 66% or higher… this doesn’t sound good…

  • bobby b

    What’s the status of the middle class in Africa?

    Since Africa is projected to contain one-quarter of the entire earth’s population by 2050 – some 2.4 billion people – we need to be factoring them into this averaging, too.

    And it doesn’t lead to a pretty picture. Shenzhen and Warsaw are going to be the rich neighborhoods.

  • Jacob

    “Shenzhen and Warsaw are going to be the rich neighborhoods”
    Well, not all of Shenzhen or Warsaw, of course, far from it. Some select sections only.

  • Jacob

    Alisa
    “Cultures do adjust and even change, as do systems – but it takes time, and frankly, luck…”
    You are an irreparable optimist… Cultures change, correct, but which direction? Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
    Anyway, we don’t know, and can’t know, the future.

  • Alisa

    When they change for the worse, they die out, and something better (i.e. more sustainable) replaces them.

  • Get off romantic jabbering and do some cold blooded, quantitative thinking

    Within living memory, both China and India were know for periodic cataclysmic famines. What are the prospect for famines in the future in either place? What is it about these places being able to feed themselves that you find so unimportant that you hand wave it away? People were malnourished in England in the 1930s and now they’re not. As places liberalise, the economic impact spreads out like an oil slick, and that can be seen right now in these places just like it has happened almost everywhere else.

    You must appreciate the hugeness of the problem, the depth of the poverty

    Yeah, I do, and I’ve actually been to Lagos and a quite a few other of the world’s genuine shitholes. And when I couldn’t avoid it, I strayed well away from the nearest Sheraton & out into the places the tours never go 😆

    Yes, I imagine the uplift will continue to be very unequal indeed, but in the not too distant future, there will be more middle class people in absolute numbers in India and China, with a middle class lifestyle not all that different to yours, than in the entire First World added together. And that will mean we will be in a very different place globally. This is a genie that well and truly out of the bottle.

  • Well, not all of Shenzhen or Warsaw, of course, far from it. Some select sections only.

    Perhaps not all of Warsaw, but given the price of property in Shenzhen, dats a lotta very well off people… 😎

  • Jacob

    Some article stated that of Shenzhen’s 14 million people, 8 live in “normal” housing and 6 in “city villages” a.k.a shantytowns.

  • I was under the impression shantytowns around Shenzhen were demolished in 2011-14. There might still be some remaining for all I know, but like I said, the prices of property are such that they will not be there for long.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    By the way, Swisher, What does FFS mean? Freedom Foils Socialism?

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I feel compelled to take up Jacob’s point about the original intent of this discussion – Is equalising the US and Europe to the rest of the world (e.g. India and China) a good thing?

    A good thing to who? The multitudes of poor, marginal workers who exist in every nation? Is it better to benefit a industrious, hardworking Third Worlder who gains by getting a automobile factory job originally in say… Detroit, which deprives a hardworking American worker of the same job?

    It’s easy to say the American worker should just pick up new skills and get a new job better suited to the changed economy, but everything we’ve learned about people tells us this just isn’t that easy. The truth is that research has shown us that for adults to pick up new skills is difficult, and gets more difficult as fluid intelligence declines. Psychometric research has been quite consistent on this. So what happens to them?

    My own country benefitted from this shifting of manufacturing jobs when we were climbing up the value chain, but now the shoe is on the other foot. What is the rational argument for hiring locals at SGD$2000 for rubbish collection when we can hire foreign workers who work for a fraction of that wage? And those locals will probably lack the capacity for more meaningful jobs – what happens to them? What can they do that robots can’t?

    Do we owe any loyalty to our own in-group, above and over economic considerations? The conservatives usually say ‘yes’. The liberals and libertarians usually say ‘no’. Haidt discussed this difference in his theory of moral foundations.

    Nation states can and do have some power over the process of globalisation and equalisation. Some have much greater say than others. I would say Japan has done a very good job of maintaining their social cohesion and identity, withstanding global forces very well. Sure, they paid a price for it, and they also had the right conditions for it (high potential populace). Fifty years down the road, whose policies are likely to result in better outcomes, Japan or the EU?

    China, for example, isn’t likely to succumb to the same social trends wracking the West right now. Immigration? Not likely if you’re not ethnic chinese. Outsourcing by local firms and loss of jobs? I suspect even more protective measures down the line to keep those jobs in China. Not to mention that historically, idle hands and minds in China are usually an ominous portent. Would China be better or worse off in the long run?

    There’s some value to the notion of loyalty towards one’s own in-group. Is it quantifiable?

    I have no idea.

    Sorry for this rambling comment.

  • Jacob

    Not everything is grim in the shantytowns…. there are also bright spots

  • Shlomo Maistre

    So the problem is what exactly? And how does it contradict anything Perry has said?

    Perry has asked where the unemployment is and then he cited a bullshit unemployment rate that he does not dispute is completely bullshit even though he used that bullshit number to support his argument in favor of free trade.

    To answer your question, there is no problem. Unless of course you consider 1 in 5 families not having a single person who works a problem, which is in part attributable to exporting manufacturing jobs to overseas plants. Or unless you consider it a problem that America’s middle class is being systematically eliminated by a number of factors including outsourcing of working class jobs. Or unless you consider it a problem that the marriage rates, birth rates, employment rates, civic engagement rates, and savings rates have been falling very substantially for decades in America and continue to fall partially due (in ways that are direct and sometimes indirect) to outsourcing manufacturing and other jobs to China, Mexico and other countries.

    But again, if all you value is freedom then there is no problem at all. Except perhaps that the drugs that millions of Americans in flyover country snort at dramatically rising rates to make them feel good often partly since they feel no hope of finding steady, productive work are illegal.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    It wasn’t a serious answer so I ignored it. The state is bending over backwards to keep people out of employment with taxes and regulations, and in any case, if you think US workers are clamouring for very low pay production line work (and if it isn’t low pay, good luck selling your product), then you are as mistaken as he is (and that’s saying something). If manufacturing it ‘brought back’ to the USA by state diktat and barriers rather than by deregulation and liberalisation, well I suppose there is one upside: I will invest in US based robotics companies as I can see them really taking off.

    Perry you asked where the unemployment is. I showed you. Nobody here doubts that there are many factors that lead to unemployment. Certainly the factors you cite contribute to unemployment. Certainly exporting jobs overseas has more than a tiny bit to do with the serious unemployment in the USA too. You can acknowledge that exporting jobs to China contributes to unemployment in America while still supporting free trade. You are not disputing that the number you cited is bullshit and you are also not making an argument for free trade while acknowledging that exporting jobs overseas contributes to unemployment while still making an argument in favor of free trade, which suggests you are not terribly interested in having a genuine debate about the merits of free trade.

    I would suggest, though, that in the future you don’t ask questions whose answers undermine your argument.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Maistre:
    “Of the ~205 million people who were 18 – 65 in 2015, only 88 million of them were workers. Over 20 million of those 88 million were part-time workers.”
    Of those 205 million people 18-65 – about 20 million were college students.
    Another ~50 million were people with disabilities, though 40% of them did work, so ~30 million people unemployed because of disability.
    So the employed were about 88/155 =~ 57% and the people who dropped from the work force – 43% “only”.
    It is very difficult to count how many didn’t work because they were rich, how many because they worked “undocummented” and how many on welfare

    College students often work while they are in college so just the fact that they are college students does not mean you can simply subtract college students from the population of working age adults. In fact many college students do work and many go to college because they cannot find a job.

    You cite 70 million people with disabilities. Almost half of them are employed. So how do you know that the people with disabilities who do not have jobs do not work because of their disabilities? After all, many many millions of people with disabilities do work! Could it be possible that disabled people who do not have jobs want work just like the people who are not disabled and do not have jobs? You must have great wisdom to know that disabled people don’t want jobs.

    Furthermore, define disabled. In the report you link to: of the 50 million with disabilities, 14% has depression or anxiety. I have a job and I have both of those things to a very significant degree. Also, of the 50 million disabled people almost 8 million are disabled because they have trouble hearing. Of those almost 8 million about 6.6 million do not have a severe hearing problem. My grandfather has severe hearing problem (he has big hearing aids) and he works. So why should the 6.6 million with non-severe hearing problems not work? How many people are disabled because they have trouble seeing and thus wear glasses? Should they also not be counted in the unemployment figure in your infinite wisdom? Also, in the report you cite people who are 80 years old or older are 8 times more likely on a per person basis to be disabled. So that doesn’t subtract from my number because I was only talking about those between 18 and 65 years of age. How many people in that 50 million number are over 80 years old? How many are over 65?

    But you are right about one thing, which is that it is difficult to count many things such as how many people are illegal and thus work under the radar doing a job an American might do if they weren’t here. But my point is not that I know exactly what the true unemployment rate is. My point is that the BLS says that 90% (90%!) of those American adults between the ages of 18 and 65 who do not have any type of job are not seeking work. The numbers you bring up don’t really make me believe that 90% of American adults who don’t have a job are not seeking work.

    You bring up a number of points, none of which substantially undermine my broader point which is that the unemployment rate number is bullshit, there is serious unemployment in America, and exporting jobs overseas contributes to the rampant unemployment.

  • …and exporting jobs overseas contributes to the rampant unemployment.

    If you think Chinese factory worker wage level jobs in the USA would solve unemployment, well… good luck with that. And if the wages are much higher, there are going to be a whole lot of very unhappy WalMart shoppers when they see what their previously cheap stuff costs.

    Ok, so get rid of the welfare state and you are probably right, many more low pay jobs get taken up by Americans at a certain part of the spectrum. Otherwise, forget it, the only way those sort of jobs get filled in the USA is by newly arrived immigrants, the sort of people conservatives would prefer to stay where they are and not come to the USA 😆

    First World people don’t want those jobs, and in a welfare state, why would they? Hence low employment participation in certain segments. So maybe it doesn’t mean what you think it does and the figures are not as cooked as you think either, because Chappelle pretty much has it right.

  • Jacob

    There are really no fundamental disputes or discrepancies between your guesses and mine. They are all rough estimates, no better ones are possible.

    The problem is – your claim that maybe some ~100-110 million Americans, 18-65 that don’t work (and don’t seek work) are unemployed is exaggerated.
    There are many who do not seek employment because they don’t want to work. As I said, there are those who prefer to study, those who are rich (some of them) and don’t need to work. Then there are those who are really disabled and cannot work. The biggest group of non-workers (I guess) are those who prefer to live on welfare. Anyway – there are dozens of millions of Americans that don’t work, and many of them would work (possibly) if a suitable employment (easy work, high pay) were available.

    The exporting of manufacturing jobs to China can be blamed for some of the lack of jobs – but I don’t think it is quantitatively a huge problem.
    There is also the problem of foreigners (legal, illegal or temporary) who occupy jobs… also not big quantitatively.
    Blaming America’s woes on the strangers or “exported” manufacturing jobs is mostly emotional, political bs rhetoric.

    The biggest problem is the welfare state. It drives people out of work, it raises costs and drives jobs out of the country.

  • The biggest problem is the welfare state. It drives people out of work, it raises costs and drives jobs out of the country.

    No argument there.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Jacob,

    So you did not answer any of my questions. I don’t blame you. answering any of them accurately would strengthen my perspective and weaken yours. This is why I asked those questions.

    Anyway, lets examine the fresh meat you have provided to my slaughterhouse.

    There are really no fundamental disputes or discrepancies between your guesses and mine. They are all rough estimates, no better ones are possible.

    I never made any guesses. You did. You said: “Another ~50 million were people with disabilities, though 40% of them did work, so ~30 million people unemployed because of disability.” This is a guess that those who have a disability are not employed because they have a disability. As I explained, this is a preposterous proposition because people can be considered disabled because they have depression or anxiety need hearing aids (barely even disabled in many cases) and PLUS plenty of people who are disabled work anyway so how is it possible that all of the disabled people who do not work are not employed due to their disability when there might be other reasons for this.

    I never made any guesses regarding the true number of unemployed people in America. I did say that I have my doubts that 90% of Americans who are between 18 and 65 and do not have a job are not seeking work but I never ventured to say what I think the true % is. Maybe in truth it is 40%, maybe 70%, maybe even 90% – I don’t know, I don’t claim to know and I never did claim to know. Stop erecting straw men to try to make your arguments look persuasive by comparison.

    The problem is – your claim that maybe some ~100-110 million Americans, 18-65 that don’t work (and don’t seek work) are unemployed is exaggerated.

    I never made this claim. I said that I have doubts about the idea that 90% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 who do not have jobs are not seeking work. The problem is your reading comprehension skills.

    There are many who do not seek employment because they don’t want to work. As I said, there are those who prefer to study, those who are rich (some of them) and don’t need to work. Then there are those who are really disabled and cannot work. The biggest group of non-workers (I guess) are those who prefer to live on welfare. Anyway – there are dozens of millions of Americans that don’t work, and many of them would work (possibly) if a suitable employment (easy work, high pay) were available.

    Not only does none of this contradict anything I have said in this thread, but I was the first one to say most of these things.

    The exporting of manufacturing jobs to China can be blamed for some of the lack of jobs – but I don’t think it is quantitatively a huge problem.

    I do. I understand your reluctance to bring data back up your perspective on this part of our debate, given how thoroughly I demolished the last batch of data you brought to our discussion regarding people with disabilities.

    There is also the problem of foreigners (legal, illegal or temporary) who occupy jobs… also not big quantitatively.

    Ah ok. Count me as someone who is not exactly persuaded by your assertion which is as devoid of data as it is of rhetorical flourish.

    Blaming America’s woes on the strangers or “exported” manufacturing jobs is mostly emotional, political bs rhetoric.

    Let me be the first to tell you that emotional rhetoric and truth are mutually incompatible. In case, ya know, you didn’t realize that.

    The biggest problem is the welfare state. It drives people out of work, it raises costs and drives jobs out of the country.

    Again, this may be true (I’ll note the lack of data or alternative method of persuasion) but even if it is true this does not contradict anything I have said in this thread.

    Baby steps on your journey up the mountain of truth. You will find King Shlomo and Joseph de Maistre at the top.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    If you think Chinese factory worker wage level jobs in the USA would solve unemployment, well… good luck with that. And if the wages are much higher, there are going to be a whole lot of very unhappy WalMart shoppers when they see what their previously cheap stuff costs.

    Ok, so get rid of the welfare state and you are probably right, many more low pay jobs get taken up by Americans at a certain part of the spectrum. Otherwise, forget it, the only way those sort of jobs get filled in the USA is by newly arrived immigrants, the sort of people conservatives would prefer to stay where they are and not come to the USA 😆

    First World people don’t want those jobs, and in a welfare state, why would they? Hence low employment participation in certain segments. So maybe it doesn’t mean what you think it does and the figures are not as cooked as you think either, because Chappelle pretty much has it right.

    Nothing you say here contradicts or in any way undermines anything I have said. All I have said is that your bullshit unemployment rate number is bullshit, that unemployment is a big problem in America (unless of course all you care about is liberty in which case the only problem alluded to or noted in our discussion is that the drugs Americans snort at rising rates in Flyover America to deal with the misery, depression, and sadness of chronic joblessness, collapsing civic life, and disintegrating families are illegal), and that a significant reason for the rampant unemployment in America is exporting manufacturing jobs overseas.

    You have yet to credibly dispute any of my perspective. Any of it.

    And I don’t know what you mean by “maybe it doesn’t mean what you think it does”. I have told you what I think the bullshit unemployment number means. It means there are more people unwillingly without work than the government will admit. Your faith in government statistics is touching but misguided.

    And libertarians flaunting a joke about shitty “Chinese jobs” from a multimillionaire celebrity comedian who makes more money in a week than many Americans make during their whole entire lives does not actually bring all that many people into the pro-liberty fold, it turns out. But I realize that the point of libertarian sermons is more about making the religious feel good about their theories than it is about advancing liberty in, ya know, the real world.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Whoops:
    Let me be the first to tell you that emotional rhetoric and truth are mutually incompatible

    should say:

    Let me be the first to tell you that emotional rhetoric and truth are not necessarily mutually incompatible

  • Jacob

    Shlomo, I don’t know what you try to say.
    Far too many people in the US don’t work? This is bad? Agreed. Now – what’s the reason? The most deep and fundamental reason? The primary reason?
    And what the “solution”?

    If you peddle the Trumpist meme: “blame those damn fureigners for robbing our jobs, we Americans good, foreigners bad” – this is a powerful political slogan that propelled Trump to the Presidency, but it is not true [it is also a very old and worn lie, always effective].
    “Let me be the first to tell you that emotional rhetoric and truth are not necessarily mutually incompatible”
    Yes, but you should be wary and it should make you double-check.

    America’s problems are made in America, not in China (or Russia).

    Data supporting my claim that job losses to foreigners are not the decisive factor? The data is out there. It’s too long and complicated to dig it up here and now.
    Job losses are the result of the Welfare state, and not an original, independent thing.

    So we come to the “solution” question. What is your proposed solution (or Trump’s)? I have no idea. Could you please tell us?

    Here is a modest proposal: impose a small import duty (say 5%) on ALL (but ALL) goods and services from abroad. Call it “America First tariff”. Will it bring back “good” jobs to America? Like last year’s snow. But it will make America First people happy.
    Any other ideas welcome (for dissection and killing).

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Dear Jacob,

    I support shrinking the welfare state. The welfare state will never shrink so long as we live in a democracy. Democracy is where liberty goes to die.

    Take care.

  • Jacob

    Perry, about global poverty. It is true that since the end of WW2 the world (rather – some parts of it) has made a tremendous leap out of poverty. First there were the 5 Asian tigers (Japan, S. Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan). Then, starting about 1980, there was the huge Chinese miracle, which nobody could have imagined, let alone predicted. Hundreds of millions of poor were lifted to respectable middle class levels in an incredible short time.

    But don’t underestimate the power of Poverty. It is huge, it is strong, it looms everywhere. It is aggressive, and conquers new places (Venezuela). It will not go away, not in 20 years and not in 200.
    The question remains: is global equalization of living standards a goal we want to pursue?

  • Nothing you say here contradicts or in any way undermines anything I have said

    Actually it does, but whatever. Just reread it less selectively.

  • But don’t underestimate the power of Poverty.

    And I don’t. Spent too much time in Africa to do that.

    It will not go away, not in 20 years and not in 200.

    Go away completely? No, I agree. Continue to shrink? Yes it probably will, why not?

    The question remains: is global equalization of living standards a goal we want to pursue?

    It is not a ‘goal’ that ‘we want to pursue’, it is simply a consequence of technology and markets. China & India will get (unequally) richer and richer, ergo they will (unequally) approach ‘First World’ levels of affluence. Is that a bad thing?

  • Jacob

    “China & India will get (unequally) richer and richer, ergo they will (unequally) approach ‘First World’ levels of affluence. Is that a bad thing?”

    As far as I’m concerned – it’s wonderful.

    Well, even that would be bad by ecco-mad prevailing wisdom – that would be over-consumption, depletion of resources, unsustainable and ecco-doom.

    We were talking about “equalization” – downwards – in developed countries, caused by the libertarian ideal of totally open borders.

    As to India and China approaching First World levels — that’s a long way off, if ever….

  • …caused by the libertarian ideal of totally open borders.

    Yeah because that must the only only explanation why economies change, Oi vey 🙄

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Jacob didn’t say that open borders is the only thing that causes the economy to change. Perry, just because X is not the only thing that causes Y does not mean that it is impossible that X is one thing that does cause Y. It is possible that letting millions of people with very little productive skills into a first world country whether legally or illegally changes the economy or living conditions or quality of life or electoratoral voting patterns or civic life or culture of a country while not being the only thing that causes any of those things to change.

    Similarly just because many things such as burdensome regulations, minimum wage, high taxes, litigious business climate, vast welfare regime that discourages work etc etc etc contribute to unemployment in America does not mean that exporting jobs overseas does not contribute to unemployment in America.

    I suspect you know this already but have used this method of obfuscating the matter at hand to deflect attention from the reality that your opinions on these matters are not generally all that compatible with facts about the real world.

  • I suspect you know this already but have used this method of obfuscating the matter at hand to deflect attention from the reality that your opinions on these matters are not generally all that compatible with facts about the real world.

    Clearly we think much the same about each other 😉

  • bobby b

    Shlomo Maistre
    February 16, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    “Democracy is where liberty goes to die.”

    What’s the alternative? It all comes down to who chooses the people in charge, and the people’s self-interest has to be at least as good a guide as the various other methods by which someone gets the job.

  • Julie near Chicago

    bobby: Ayeh.

  • Jacob

    “and the people’s self-interest”… is that what drives voters?

    I was under the impression that what matters is the height of the candidate.
    Usually the tallest (and better looking) candidate wins. (Eg. Trump vs. Hillary).
    Do voters consider also other factors? I don’t know, it’s a complicated psychological question.

    What is sure is that rational factors are not part of the mix.

    That voters vote for the candidate that best serves their interests is a myth taken from pious fiction. I know, though, how one group votes in a specific case where one candidate if Afro-American and the other not… that’s just one example….

  • Jacob

    Perry,
    What Shlomo said.
    My point is this: open borders for people and goods is a very solid and widely accepted libertarian and Austrian economics principle based on individual rights and economic efficiency principles.

    Is it possible that it might have also some side effects such a depressing living standards, to some degree at least?

  • Jacob

    It goes without saying that the open borders policy of the West facilitated the huge leap forward of the Chinese economy and well being. The improvement of China is a GOOD thing. The West benefited also, enormously, from cheap Chinese manufactures, another GOOD thing.

    I think it’s obvious that given open borders, America’s labor can’t compete with the Chinese (or Bangaladeshi) labor and there will be some negative effects…

    You seem to avoid any mention of side effects.
    (Note: the “open border” thing is a one-way street … there are no open borders in China or Japan…)

  • Shlomo Maistre

    What’s the alternative?

    Monarchy. My preferred variant is hereditary divine-right absolute monarchy.

    It all comes down to who chooses the people in charge

    Not necessarily.

    and the people’s self-interest has to be at least as good a guide as the various other methods by which someone gets the job.

    Ah, yes. I can remember years ago when I still thought that in democracy the people’s self interest is what, more or less, guides political policies, as my parents, my relatives, CNN, the MSM, my Hebrew school teachers, my middle school & high school teachers, and college professors have always told me. That was a long, long time ago.

    My soul has matured since then. And my understanding of the world has become far more complex, deep, and thorough since then as well.

    Something to get ya started.

    http://maistre.uni.cx/considerations_on_france.html

  • Jacob

    “Monarchy. My preferred variant is hereditary divine-right absolute monarchy.”

    That is so outdated… anachronistic…

    A modern variant would be what? … Putin ?

  • Shlomo Maistre

    That is so outdated… anachronistic…

    If by “outdated” you mean that people these days are not worthy of absolute divine-right hereditary monarchy (not the ceremonial bullshit in the UK, etc) then you are correct.

    In monarchy sometimes you get a shit king and sometimes you get a great king. However, as a rule, political lethargy, massive debt accumulation, disintegration of social order, and erosion of individual liberty are inherent consequences of distributing presumed political power as in a democracy or a constitutional republic.

    And whenever anyone calls any of my ideas anachronistic I genuinely take it as a compliment.

    A modern variant would be what? … Putin ?

    This is like asking what the modern variant of the triceratops is. Either it exists today or it doesn’t.

    The triceratops has always been the best dinosaur by the way. And it does not exist today.

    Putin is not a monarch. Let me provide you with a handy dandy tool to find out if someone is a monarch.

    Did the leader assume power by hereditary right of succession? Yes? then maybe he/she is a monarch.

    Lmk when Vladimir kisses the ring of a Romanov.

  • My preferred variant is hereditary divine-right absolute monarchy

    Some in-bred who rules because the voices in some people’s heads said he should rule 😆

    I prefer the idea of a constitutional order with franchise based on property or some other measure of skin in the game. Britain circa 1820 was interesting.

  • Is it possible that it might have also some side effects such a depressing living standards, to some degree at least?

    The problem with the west is not open borders, it is a welfare state plus (above all) regulating to pile cost and discouragement on the very people who create jobs and opportunities with entrepreneurship. It is the state turning companies into adult daycare centres rather than businesses in ways China really doesn’t (which is not to say China does not also distort their economy politically, it sure does, just not that way).

  • zenit

    Shlomo Maistre
    February 20, 2018 at 5:25 am

    absolute divine-right hereditary monarchy

    Did the leader assume power by hereditary right of succession? Yes? then maybe he/she is a monarch.

    In this case, Kim Jong Un is your man. He is certainly divine being, worshipped as living god.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_monarchy#Contemporary_monarchies

    Clause 2 of Article 10 of the new edited Ten Fundamental Principles of the Korean Workers’ Party states that the party and revolution must be carried “eternally” by the “Baekdu (Kim’s) bloodline”

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Zenit,

    North Korea according to your link is a hereditary dictatorship not a monarchy so you are making my argument for me. Dictators come to power through coups, revolutions, power struggles, and yes sometimes elections (Hitler though he never quite actually won an election his Nazi party rose to power through democratic elections).

    Also in your link they talk about how Kims family is carrying out an eternal revolution. Revolution. Revolution is opposite of a restoration (restoration is what happens when monarchists beat the Revolutionaries like in 1660 Restoration England or the Meiji Restoration in Japan).

    Dictatorships, revolutionaries etc rely on mass propaganda much like democracies do. There’s a reason why a friend of mine who works for the DCCC (democrats) tells me that he and his colleagues regularly study the mass rallies, soaring oratory, visuals, and fake propaganda of Hitler to emulate in their political campaigns. Content? Very different. Approach, style, and methods? Pretty similar. Trump, Clinton, Bush, Obama etc they act a bit more like Hitler when communicating to the masses and trying to get support than they do the Romanovs or Stuarts.

    The countries in the link you provided as being current absolute hereditary monarchies are not great places to live but they have never really been great places to live and their current monarchs provide more stable and orderly rule than those countries have enjoyed in their histories for the most part. Again, not flawless. And yes sometimes you get a shit king. But again, disintegration of social order, accumulation of massive debt, and erosion of individual liberty are the INHERENT consequences of distributing purported political power among many people as in a democracy or constitutional republic.

    Anyway, good try. Better luck next time.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Oh and by the way. I am careful with my words. I said:

    Did the leader assume power by hereditary right of succession? Yes? then maybe he/she is a monarch.

    I did not say “yes? then he/she is a monarch” since there is a difference between a condition that is necessary and a condition that is by itself sufficient. The above is necessary but not by itself sufficient for being monarch.

    Maybe is there for a reason. Hereditary dictatorships can and do exist. You found one in North Korea according to the link you provided they are dedicated to eternal revolution – which is pretty much the fundamental opposite of monarchy. So again, you made my argument for me on multiple levels.

  • EdMJ

    Uncanny!

    Paging Shlomo Maistre…

    https://www.samizdata.net/2018/02/by-the-authority-vested-very-scantily-vested-in-us/#comment-744946

    Nice to have you back, Shlomo, I’ve missed your perspective on things!

    absolute divine-right hereditary monarchy

    Dunno, Tian Ming (Mandate of Heaven) sounds like a better bet to me, given its emphasis on worthiness and the inherent right of rebellion against an unjust ruler.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandate_of_Heaven

    Revolution is opposite of a restoration (restoration is what happens when monarchists beat the Revolutionaries like in 1660 Restoration England or the Meiji Restoration in Japan).

    Indeed. We were discussing this just the other day.

    https://www.samizdata.net/2018/02/by-the-authority-vested-very-scantily-vested-in-us/#comment-744891

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Dunno, Tian Ming (Mandate of Heaven) sounds like a better bet to me, given its emphasis on worthiness and the inherent right of rebellion against an unjust ruler.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandate_of_Heaven

    Ah, yes. Tianming I agree with. It’s the simple idea that power flows to worthy. Which is one reason why figuring out what kind of government we need is besides the point – we get the government we deserve, not the government we need. Thus it’s imperative to be worthy; insofar as one is worthy one is deserving of stable, quality, orderly government. And to deserve something for a long enough period of time is to usually earn it and thus receive it. Not always. But this is generally how reality works. Rights to good things are earned over time; rights are consecrated by time (not by ink blots arranged in a nice way on parchment).

    But neither Joseph de Maistre nor I would doubt that in an inferior and crude sense every government requires the consent of the governed. Anyone, of course, can do anything at any time and rebel against what they view as injustice. 95% of the time what takes the place of the slaughtered King is 10X worse that that slaughtered King ever was.

    For instance, it didn’t take long for the Americans to tax themselves FAR FAR more heavily and oppressively than King George ever would have dreamed to and, in truth, his taxes were wholly justified by comparison – for example to pay the enormous costs associated with military operations to protect and defend the American colonies from Native American attacks, which were often reprisals against the colonists for violating King’s law and Proclamation and settling Indian territory and straying into their lands, forcing the King to protect them.

    Dumb Americans. Some things never change.

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