Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:
Nucor’s Ruth Kemmish wants to slap extra taxes on Americans who buy Chinese goods (Letters, Oct. 15). She justifies such taxes by asserting that “tariffs exist today to correct artificial imbalances, and this legislation [the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act] would aid that effort.”
Never mind that the “imbalance” to which Ms. Kemmish undoubtedly refers – namely, America’s current-account deficit with China – is exactly offset by a higher American capital-account surplus. Therefore, examination of both accounts that only together are designed to capture the full range of international transactions reveals that these transactions are perfectly balanced.
Instead, focus on Ms. Kemmish’s underlying premise, which is this: if party B pays party C to offer especially attractive deals to party A – and if, in response, party A buys more from party C and less from party N – party N is justified in hiring party U to punitively confiscate extra sums of money from party A until party A significantly reduces his purchases from party C and increases his purchases from party N.
This premise suggests at least two questions. Why is party N entitled to party A’s patronage? And why is this entitlement that is claimed by party N superior to party A’s entitlement to spend his money as he wishes – including spending it in ways that enable party A to take advantage of the bounty made available to party A by party C?
Donald J. Boudreaux
Here I shamelessly, again, steal a brilliant tactic from Carpe Diem‘s Mark Perry: I edit what is roughly the first half of a news report (HT Andy Roth) in ways that do not alter its factual accuracy but, hopefully, that reveal the dangers lurking in familiar yet flawed modes of thinking. This report is on Americans’ trade with the Chinese:
The Obama administration, under fire for not taking a harder line
on China over its currencyon American consumers who stubbornly take advantage of good deals offered by Chinese sellers and, allegedly, made even more attractive by Beijing’s monetary policy appears set to move against the Asia export powerhouse on other frontsthese politically unorganized Americans as next year’s U.S. elections approach.
The United States is likely to launch fresh challenges against
ChinaAmerican consumers at the World Trade Organization, probably stoking tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.
“I expect the United States will be bringing more cases against China in the coming year,” said James Bacchus, who as a former WTO appellate judge used to sit in judgment of international trade disputes.
Already firmly in campaign mode, President Barack Obama recently boasted of taking a tougher line on
tradeeconomic change, including consumers’ decisions to change how they spend their own money than his predecessors. In particular, American consumers’ voluntary choices to buy more goods and services from China, its currency and other trade issues have already become a big issue in the election campaigning.
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has ratcheted up his criticism of
ChinaAmerican consumers’ choices despite his party’s traditionally pro-free trade stance.
“If you are not willing to stand up to China, you will get run over by China, and that’s what’s happened for 20 years,” the former Massachusetts governor said on Tuesday – apparently suffering the bizarre delusion that lower-priced inputs and consumer goods and services harm the U.S. economy.
He was speaking shortly after the U.S. Senate passed legislation to crack down on
Chinese currencyAmerican-consumers’ practices that U.S. lawmakerslegislation-makers blame for millions of lost jobs.
Sensitive to how the criticism of China plays with U.S. voters, Obama has not yet explicitly said he would veto the bill. In any case, the legislation is unlikely to pass the House of Representatives where Republican leaders have voiced concern that it might breach WTO rules and could spark a trade war which would damage U.S. corporations. Even non-Romneyite GOP politicians remain oblivious to the fact that trade is ultimately to be judged by how well it promotes consumption opportunities and not by how well it does, or does not, enhance the bottom line of corporations.
But Obama is likely to want to show voters his mettle on
trade issuesconsumer sovereignty and trade experts say he has plenty of options to pursue which, unlike the Senate currency bill, are likely to conform with WTO rules.
New government data on Thursday that showed the U.S.
trade deficitcapital-account surplus with China hit a record $29 billion in August and is also likely to set a record for the year could add to the pressure on Obama to act to stop the Chinese and other foreigners from investing so much in America.
Last week, U.S. trade officials notified the WTO of some 200 Chinese government subsidy programs and scolded Beijing for not halting its self-destructive actions of taxing its own people to make non-Chinese people, including Americans, richer.
taking the action itself as required under WTO rules.
U.S. officials at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva also recently took China to task over agricultural policies much like the policies that Uncle Sam himself has hypocritically and harmfully employed for decades that they said unfairly discriminated against foreign suppliers.
Today there is a strong tendency to identify law, not with rules of conduct, but with a hierarchy of power and command. This view – which confuses fidelity to law with deference for established authority – leads easily to the conclusion that while judges, policemen, and prosecuting attorneys can infringe legality, legislatures cannot, except as they may trespass against explicit constitutional restrictions on their power. Yet it is obvious that obscure and incoherent legislation can make legality unattainable by anyone, or at least unattainable without an authorized revision which itself imparts legality…. Being at the top of the chain of command does not exempt the legislature from its responsibility to respect the demands of the internal morality of law; indeed, it intensifies that responsibility.
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (08:15 pm)
The Occupy movement comes to Melbourne. Its symptoms include speaking in extremely long sentences, saying exactly what a hippy with a megaphone tells you to say and believing the world is made better by sitting in a public space.
Other symptoms include dressing in a chicken suit, demanding an “f..ing load of songs” and accusing Australia of genocide:
And, of course, what’s a Leftist protest without trying to intimidate a shop owned by Israeli Jews?:
A good test of any group demanding a new society is to imagine what the place would be like if left to them to run.
Tim Blair discovers another symptom. Lots and lots of committees,
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (03:55 pm)
Racial tensions in Australia today look a lot different to the stereotype:
The mayor of a central western NSW town (Narromine) is appealing for calm, with revenge suspected as the motive for an overnight fire at a house in which an alleged intruder died four days ago....
No-one was in the house at the time of the fire, but police say the circumstances are suspicious and that it may have been a reprisal for the death of a 29-year-old indigenous man on Wednesday.
The man had been found in the house by three Chinese nationals who live there.... The man, named in media reports as Tony Prince, died after the three occupants of the house restrained him in the backyard.
(No comments for legal reasons.)
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (03:50 pm)
Colorado decides to slug the poor to help rich greens drive in style:
At least, you can if you live in Colorado and buy it before December 31.
That’s when a special Colorado tax credit, designed to encourage the purchase of low-emission cars, is due to be capped...
(Thanks to reader Steve. More from Watts Up With That.)
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (10:40 am)
(Thanks to reader Shane.)
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (10:17 am)
Which should mean the wind farm disaster should get five times the coverage, right?
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (10:10 am)
Was it really necessary for police to get involved in this victimless crime in the deepest outback? And so even the most remote parts of Australia are blanded out:
Northern Territory Police say a Central Australian man will face court after his 13-year-old son was caught driving a damaged vehicle with a loaded rifle in the front seat and towing a dead donkey.
Police pulled the vehicle over on Coniston Road, about 160 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs, about 1.30pm on Thursday…
Police say the boy’s 52-year-old father was at a nearby cattle station and will be summonsed to appear in court on firearms charges....
“The vehicle was unroadworthy, with severe damage to the front end and the bonnet was held down with a tie-down strap.”
Police took the boy back to a nearby station and spoke to his father… The firearms have been seized and the boy will be considered for Youth Diversion for traffic and firearms offences.
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (09:56 am)
Two lines from the latest rambling of the Sydney Morning Herald’s resident shiraz socialist, Mike Carlton:
Surely now we must recognise that the 1980s capitalist model has run itself off a cliff, as it was always bound to do…
JUST home from a holiday in Bali...
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (09:21 am)
Why didn’t Julia Gillard exploit the suspension of Liberal Sophie Mirabella on Wednesday to push a vote on her bill to allow her Malaysian people swap? Christopher Pearson dissects the humiliating withdrawal:
When the Liberals’ Sophie Mirabella ignored warnings and was suspended from the service of the house for 24 hours by the deputy Speaker on Tuesday night, it looked as though Gillard’s tactical victory was in sight and her judgment was about to be vindicated…
Without Mirabella, at best the Coalition could muster only 74 votes in a house of 150 members. Any pairing arrangements cancel one another out. So there was no further need for the government to negotiate with West Australian National Tony Crook for his support. The bill could have passed on the casting vote of the Speaker, Labor’s Harry Jenkins. Why then was the bill not put to a vote on Wednesday?…
There is only one possible explanation. Feeling was running high on the issue, especially within the Left. Gillard and the whips were by no means certain that all of their own backbench would support it....
On Tuesday morning Steven Scott reported in The Courier-Mail that “some Labor MPs are threatening to abstain from voting on a bill aimed at reviving the government’s plan to send asylum-seekers to Malaysia”.
One member told Scott the bill “was eroding people’s confidence in her leadership”.
Another MP confirmed that colleagues were considering abstention: “The number of people who want to abstain is larger than you think.”
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (09:13 am)
Greg Sheridan says Julia Gillard’s dramatic weakening of the boat people laws - already made weaker by Kevin Rudd in 2008 - leaves us exposed to dangerous tensions:
Such a loss of control would see 600 or more boatpeople arrive a month and could easily see the rise of a large, disgruntled underclass of hostility and resentment within our big cities.
This is exactly the European experience. It is exactly the syndrome of a determined illegal immigration, disguised as asylum-seeking and refugee claims, which has been a catastrophe in Europe.
Most visitors, even to big European cities, don’t see it, nor do upper middle-class residents of European cities, in which the international bureaucrat and lawyer-activist cohort resides. But unregulated North African Middle Eastern illegal immigration has rendered parts of many European cities ungovernable. This is documented brilliantly in Christopher Caldwell’s book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe.
Though we are starting with smaller numbers, Australia is now set to repeat this catastrophe.
The blame for this abject surrender lies primarily with the Gillard and Rudd governments. It was they who dismantled the successful border protection regime of John Howard.
The trouble is that this is one more discussion that risks being shut down by lawfare and fake claims of “racism”.
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (08:45 am)
Madonna King says one Labor MP hasn’t yet said where he stands on a pokie “reform” that could savage the Government - and not do him many favors, either:
Let’s just take one MP - Kevin Rudd, the man who holds the safest Labor seat in Queensland. Eight days ago, a letter was hand-delivered to his electorate office. It included the signatures of hundreds of voters, all from his own electorate.
So far, they are still waiting for a response from the man many believe still wants to be prime minister, but who remains tight-lipped over the plan that will cost clubs $13,725,000 in his own electorate....
Easts Leagues Club is one of the big clubs in his electorate. And in a letter given to him more than a week ago, general manager Sharna McLean points out what funding it will pull if Andrew Wilkie’s mandatory pre-commitment plan goes ahead.
Jobs would be the first to go, she says. “We would also be unable to continue to provide $30,000 to subsidise Easts Juniors registration fees; the $10,000 we have provided to St Vincent de Paul for the past two years to buy food vouchers for people in need; the $30,000 we gave to the Narbethong Special School to fund customised equipment for severely disabled children,” she says.
The $20,000 provided to the Mt Gravatt Special School to purchase a bus for disabled children would also not be repeated....
Rudd has 20 clubs in his electorate; 17 of them have gaming machines.
Of course, if Rudd becomes Prime Minister, he might be able to count on the support of independent Bob Katter - who would make up for the loss of independent Andrew Wilkie, who threatens to tear up his agreement to support the Gillard Government if it does not impose caps on pokies losses.
(Thanks to reader John.)
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (08:31 am)
DIMITY Dornan could never have imagined, as she rose to accept her award on Tuesday, she was about to be accused of genocide.
Nor could she have imagined that Telstra, in naming her Queensland Businesswoman of the Year, was about to censor her for crimes against multiculturalism or for just general offensiveness.
But such are our times.
Blog with Andrew Bolt here
Dr Dornan is an admirable woman who heads Hear and Say, teaching deaf children how to listen and speak. So good on her, right?
Well, Telstra sure thought so at the time. And then Dornan got on stage and started to speak.
Actually, there’s no punchline, because I doubt you’ll quarrel with a word of what she said.
According to the Brisbane Times, Dornan gave a rev-up speech that included this: “I think deafness is at the same stage polio was a few decades ago. It is a scourge in our world but it can be almost completely eradicated.”
Oops. Within 48 hours, Deaf Australia, Deaf Victoria and the Deaf Association of NSW all demanded Dornan apologise for insulting deaf people, and hundreds of people denounced her on a Facebook page called Stop Deaf Cultural Genocide, with some demanding she be sued for vilification.
Telstra, which makes a fortune from communications, snipped Dornan’s own words, removing from its website and YouTube a video of her speech on the grounds her comments could offend. By now you must wonder how Dornan had created such a stink, even in these oppressively censorious times with paid activists ready to take both offence and revenge.
It was, of course, to reportedly say deafness was an illness, “a scourge”, and something that should be “eradicated”. It was to treat the deaf as disabled, and not just another of our multicultural minorities.
Hear it from Sharon Everson, head of the Deaf Society in NSW: “People just find it so offensive that hearing people still want to cure them, that hearing people aren’t willing to value I suppose what is a deaf community.”
What Everson is hinting at is that there is what some in the deaf community call “Deaf Culture”.
As lobby group Aussie Deaf Kids puts it: “For culturally deaf people, to be deaf is a natural state of being ... To express sadness or regret for a person’s deafness can be considered a lack of acceptance of who they are.”
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (08:25 am)
In the week that Parliament voted to give us the tax Julia Gillard swore we wouldn’t get, Laurie Oakes devotes the first two thirds of today’s column savaging a leader who did not keep their word.
So was Oakes savaging:
A: Julia Gillard
B: Tony Abbott?
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (08:21 am)
JULIA Gillard this week showed the catastrophic judgment that should prove to even her closest Labor allies that their last hope is over.
That hope was that the Prime Minister, once she got the carbon dioxide tax through Parliament, would settle things down for a while and gradually win respect from voters for having hung tough.
But that plan depended on Gillard being competent.
Trouble is, this week showed, in fast forward, how stupid it was to think Gillard could deliver even a week of steady government.
On Wednesday, Gillard, indeed, got her carbon dioxide tax through the House of Representatives. Celebration!
But within 24 hours, she’d managed to stuff up on boat people - and so spectacularly she plunged this shell-shocked Government into even deeper humiliation than it’s yet suffered.
Of course, even before this week, Labor’s handling of this issue had been incompetent, deceitful ... and deadly.
In a fit of hubris, then prime minister Kevin Rudd scrapped the Pacific Solution, claiming it had been too cruel. More changes followed in July 2008 to make our boat people laws more “compassionate”.
In the six years before Rudd’s “reforms”, just three boats arrived each year, on average. Within weeks, the people smugglers were back in business. We now have almost 5000 boat people in detention centres or community facilities, and hundreds more have drowned at sea.
Labor for two years made farcical attempts to dodge responsibility.
After I warned that dozens of boat people had already been lured to their deaths, Gillard, then deputy prime minister, snapped: “There is no evidence to support this figure.”
When it was noted her soft laws were a magnet for boat people, she denied it.
But then a boat smashed on the rocks of Christmas Island, drowning perhaps 50 people, and the game was over.
The detention centres were bursting and, without a word of explanation, Gillard had changed her tune.
Suddenly our weak laws were, indeed, a problem, after all the laws made weak by Labor itself. As she said yesterday, unless the Coalition helped her to toughen them, “we are at a real risk of seeing more boats”.
And each Gillard plan to toughen up the laws grew weirder. There was a dud plan for a detention centre in East Timor, announced before the East Timor Government was consulted.
Now there’s this people-swap deal with Malaysia, where we send 800 boat people in exchange for 4000 of their refugees.
That’s the deal the High Court rejected in August for not offering boat people enough protection. This left Gillard not only without a plan, but looking a goose for having agreed to take Malaysia’s 4000 even if she couldn’t send a single boat person in exchange.
You’d think her humiliation could not possibly get worse.
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (07:55 am)
In office, Rudd would have two strategic options now being canvassed inside caucus. He could leave the legislation in place but campaign as a more effective salesman than Gillard, as a new PM without her baggage and better able to combat Abbott.
The alternative would be for Rudd to delay the scheme until after the next election offering to rebuild trust with the public. The obvious problem with this option is that it makes the election more of a carbon tax referendum, which is what Abbott wants.
Two flaws in the argument that Rudd delaying the tax would turn the next election into a referendum on it.
First, the next election is a referendum already - and particularly if Rudd takes over before next July, when the tax will finally be implemented. Any election over the next eight months will be sold as the public’s last chance to axe the tax. Anything in the months of difficult implementation after won’t be much better.
Second, Rudd could defer the tax or emissions trading to something more into the moral never-never - to when-the world agrees to binding targets.
And a third factor is ignored: that Gillard is unlikely to be able to implement this tax without the disasters that have dogged every other thing she’s touched. There is more chance of this tax becoming a worse problem in the medium turn than of it becoming ho-hum.
Oh, and then there’s this mess still to clean up:
It is unforgivable that Labor has not acted on Productivity Commission advice that Australia has about 230 schemes, state and federal, that are mostly inefficient, equating to a de facto carbon price of about $10 a tonne and that such schemes should be eliminated when the national carbon scheme begins. Again, Labor is put on notice: retaining solar rebates and renewable energy targets only hits its own voters in the neck and validates Abbott’s massive retaliation.
Australia’s mid-2012 starting price of $23 a tonne is about 50 per cent higher than in the EU or New Zealand schemes. The forward December 2012 price for the clean development mechanism units is less than $15 a tonne. The AI Group insists the opening price be no more than $10 a tonne.
More serious is the lack of hard proof of global progress on carbon pricing. Nations made ambitious pledges at Copenhagen and Cancun. A pledge is not a law. Many developing nation pledges are “best endeavours”. There is no prospect of the US congress legislating “cap and trade” for years. Japan and Canada have backed off such action.
Andrew Bolt – Saturday, October 15, 11 (07:36 am)
Julia Gillard was wrong and her Immigration Minister was right:
THE Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, and other key ministers from Labor’s Right faction pushed for the government to send asylum seekers to Nauru but were rolled by cabinet colleagues.
As the government and opposition blamed each other yesterday for the decision to abandon offshore processing, it emerged that Kevin Rudd had adopted the same position as Julia Gillard in opposing Nauru.
It was less dangerous for Gillard to side with Rudd than with the Coalition. But that leaves Chris Bowen even further humiliated. And Gillard has overruled some of her smartest ministers:
The proposal, designed to neutralise the issue politically and make it difficult for Mr Abbott to reject his own policy, was backed by ministers including Stephen Conroy, Tony Burke and Bill Shorten, as well as Anthony Albanese from the Left. But it was opposed by the rest of the Left, including Greg Combet, while Mr Rudd argued the government would only humiliate itself.
THE undercurrent of near-tragedy that has run through Julia Gillard’s 16 months as Labor leader has never been as powerful as it is now. A great day, a policy win that is a testament to the Prime Minister’s skills as a negotiator is followed by a day of self-inflicted humiliation over asylum-seeker policy, calling into question yet again her political judgment…
Worse, the Prime Minster and her Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, found themselves having to endure the discomfort of announcing a policy while predicting it would not work… If they had announced the policy a month ago, they would have been able to blame the High Court and be seen to be making a virtue out of necessity.
The Prime Minister lost on this issue coming and going. As it became obvious in late September that the Coalition would not side with Labor, Gillard’s insistence that the legislation go to a vote made this a political, rather than a policy, question… She had insisted there would be a vote in the lower house. But there was no vote. So Gillard lost the test of strength and damaged her credibility to boot.
I still say it should be Simon Crean for the “safe-pair-of-hands” option, but the disaffected Labor Right seems to disagree:
LABOR’S failure on offshore processing of asylum-seekers has galvanised leadership plans within the government, with Julia Gillard’s supporters preparing to fend off a push from Kevin Rudd and key right-wing ministers coalescing behind Stephen Smith as a third candidate. ..
Some senior ministers are defending Ms Gillard’s position, others are arguing that the Foreign Minister is the “only option and only alternative”, while some right-wing ministers are organising the Defence Minister as a “fallback” if Ms Gillard fails…
Mr Smith has emerged as a popular leadership option for the Labor Party in new research that shows he is more highly regarded than Ms Gillard or Mr Rudd.
In a survey of 1108 people conducted by website Online Opinion, Mr Smith won 58 per cent of voter support to Ms Gillard’s 42 per cent on a two-candidate-preferred basis.
Of course, the Right may just be pushing Smith to have something to hold over Rudd while they negotiate assurances for their security.