God is a Capitalist

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Why we have a trade deficit with China


President Trump has said that the US trade deficit with China should have been “fixed” years ago. I agree, but for different reasons. Why do we run a deficit in trade with China?

The administration wants China to quit violating our copyright and patent laws, stop stealing our technology and forcing companies doing business in China to share technology. But what does that have to do with a trade deficit? We buy mostly consumer goods from China that are made using low tech, labor intensive processes. And why would we expect China to enforce our laws? Anyway, all countries since World War II have grown by importing better technology from the West. Japan was first. We should want that to happen so their people can grow out of poverty.

Some have accused China of being a currency manipulator, meaning that they keep their yuan artificially low in exchange for the US dollar so that their products are cheaper for Americans. That may have been true in the past but China has allowed its currency to float on the market for years and it has still drifted lower. Besides, no country in the world manipulates its currency the ways the Fed does the US dollar.

Washington Irving predicted our next recession

The US stock market was stuck “in irons,” as sailors describe a ship sitting still in a windless ocean, for most of this year. But recently it tested new highs as earnings reports from banks and the tech sector inflated its sails. Mainstream economists can see no icebergs ahead in their crystal balls. One might describe the current investing climate this way:
Every now and then the world is visited by one of these delusive seasons, when “the credit system” as it is called, expands to full luxuriance; everybody trusts everybody; a bad debt is a thing unheard of; the broad way to certain and sudden wealth lies plain and open; and men are tempted to dash forward boldly, from the facility of borrowing.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The US doesn’t need to protect Mideast oil

A few weeks ago the President tweeted a threat to Saudi Arabia about its oil production:
The OPEC Monopoly must remember that gas prices are up & they are doing little to help. If anything, they are driving prices higher as the United States defends many of their members for very little $’s. This must be a two way street. REDUCE PRICING NOW!
OPEC is not a monopoly. It’s a cartel, but that is nitpicking. The idea is to anger Americans and the word monopoly does that more efficiently than does cartel. The President is worried about the US economy, but in addition he knows that higher oil prices will increase revenues to Iran’s wealthy politicians, whom Trump’s sanctions don’t affect. Economic sanctions only hurt Iran’s poorest people who have no influence over their government.

The US spends almost 4% of its GDP on the military. That includes billions the US spends to protect the sea lanes around the world to make a clear path for oil transportation. But we get only about 13% of our total oil from Persian Gulf states. Is that a good tradeoff, or as economists say, a good cost/benefit analysis?

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Death Gap: how socialists deceive

For some reason David Ansell, MD, thinks dropping the names of two famous socialists will add legitimacy to his book, The Death Gap: how inequality kills:

In many ways my insights about premature death in the neighborhoods along Ogden Avenue follow directly in the footsteps of Friedrich Engels and Rudolf Virchow, both of whom wrote in the mid-1800s about social conditions and health...This book is written in the spirit of Engels and Virchow.

Anyone who knows real history understands that Engels flat out lied about factory working conditions in his day as well as the “blissful” lives of peasants before the Industrial Revolution. Ansell doesn’t have the courage to lie as blatantly as Engels did. As a magician uses sleight of hand to make the audience think he really is cutting the half-naked assistant in half while distracting them from the deception happening inside the box, Ansell fixes the readers’ attention on certain facts without allowing them to see other facts that would give them a different opinion of matters. For example, he wrote,
A greater proportion of Americans lived in poverty in 2015 – a staggering 45 million – than in the late 1960s.

Why China will not be the world’s innovation leader

Remember Laura D'Andrea Tyson? A Republican Congress and Monica Lewinsky rescued us from her leftist economics when she was Chair of the under Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers. As far as we know she and Hillary were the only women in the White House that Clinton did not have an affair with.

Recently, Ms. Tyson warned us in “Avoiding the Sino-American Technology Trap” that China is about to become the innovation leader of the world because they have a five-year plan:
Building on its 13th Five Year Plan (in May 2016), the authorities established objectives for China to become an “innovative nation” by 2020, an “international innovation leader” by 2030, and a “world powerhouse of scientific and technological innovation” by 2050. It also committed to increasing its expenditure on research and development to 2.5% of GDP and almost doubling the number of patents filed per 10,000 people by 2020.
Tyson should know better than to place so much faith in central planning. After all, the defunct Soviet Union enjoyed similar five-year plans for much longer. If this is China’s 13th plan, they began in 1953 and their economy didn’t take off until the 1980s. What happened to the previous five-year plans?

Who's afraid of Wendell Berry?

Why would anyone be afraid of Wendell Berry? As an icon of the left, many readers may never have heard of him. He’s a Kentucky farmer in his mid-80s who farms like the Amish, hates technology and has written scores of books of poetry, essays, novels, and short stories idolizing his lifestyle, the land and rural living. 
Wendell Berry is everywhere. Patrick Deneen praised him in Why Liberalism Failed. Christianity Today and The Gospel Coalition regularly honor him. Allen Stanton wrote “Why I hate Wendell Berry,”
If you are in rural ministry, he is inescapable. His poems are read as lectio divina at retreats. He is quoted in conference presentations and referenced in sermons. He is the subject of documentaries. An album of his poems arranged for a choral group can be downloaded on Spotify (which seems ironic, given his disdain for technology)...
A preacher from an affluent urban church will address small-church pastors at conferences, quoting Berry to us, speaking about how necessary our ministry in rural communities is. Between the lines, though, you can hear the real message: “I’m glad it’s you and not me.”

Healthcare in the US follows Nazi model

Few Americans understand how socialist our healthcare system is. The evidence comes from the many articles that trash Europeans socialist healthcare and refer to the US system as free market. The truth is that the US system is about as socialist as any in Europe, but in worse ways. It follows the National Socialist pattern.
Ludwig von Mises, the greatest economist of the twentieth century, wrote in Planned Chaos that there have been two means of achieving socialism, the Soviet and the German, or Nazi. In the Soviet system,
All economic enterprises are departments of the government just as the administration of the army and the navy or the postal system. Every single plant, shop or farm, stands in the same relation to the superior central organization as does a post office to the office of the Postmaster-General.
The second pattern – we may call it the German or Swangswirtschaft system – differs from the first one in that it, seemingly and nominally, maintains private ownership of the means of production, entrepreneurship, and market exchange. So-called entrepreneurs do the buying and selling, pay the workers, contract debts and pay interest and amortization. But they are no longer entrepreneurs. In Nazi Germany they were called shop managers of Betriebsfuhrer. The government tells these seeming entrepreneurs what and how to produce, at what prices and from whom to buy, at what prices and to whom to sell. The government decrees at what wages laborurers should work, and to whom and under what terms the capitalists should entrust their funds. Market exchange is but a sham.
Property requires control of it by the owner. When the state controls the property, as it did in Germany, people no longer have property regardless of what the paper title says. Now keep the Nazi flavor of socialism in mind as we discuss healthcare pricing.