As the Chinese government accelerates its crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, the Trump administration has sharpened its view of the world’s most important bilateral relationship.
What’s happening: Senior officials tell me they are increasingly concerned about Beijing’s treatment of activists in Hong Kong and, increasingly, fear overreach that could also target Taiwan. This comes as any chance of an armistice in the trade war seems to be shrinking away.
Why it matters: Based on numerous conversations with Trump administration officials over the last few weeks, it is clear that many of the president’s top advisers view China first and foremost as a national security threat rather than as an economic partner.
- This is a new normal. And it’s poised to affect huge parts of American life, from the cost of many consumer goods — likely to go up under a punishing new round of tariffs — to the nature of this country’s relationship with the government of Taiwan.
- Trump himself still views China primarily through an economic prism. But the angrier he gets with Beijing, the more receptive he is to his advisers’ hawkish stances toward China that go well beyond trade.
- The big open question remains whether Trump’s anger with China — especially its flooding of the U.S. with deadly fentanyl and its backtracking on promises to make huge agricultural purchases — will ever grow to such a point that he wants to move in a tougher direction on national security and human rights. If he gets to that point, his advisers will have plenty of hawkish policy ideas waiting for his green light.
“Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty
Yes, it came out just three months ago. But the contest isn’t even close. Mr. Piketty’s book is almost 700 pages long, and the last of the top five popular highlights appears on page 26. Stephen Hawking is off the hook; from now on, this measure should be known as the Piketty Index.
So take it easy on yourself, readers, if you don’t finish whatever edifying tome you picked out for vacation. You’re far from alone…
Walter E. Williams is the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. He is an expert on discrimination, labor policy, regulation, and South Africa as well as a well-known columnist and the author of South Africa’s War Against Capitalism (1989), The State Against Blacks (1982), and More Liberty Means Less Government (1999).
In this lecture given at a Libertarian Party of Georgia event in 1991, Williams talks about libertarianism generally and relates his own moral arguments against state coercion. Williams also briefly suggests a few things he thinks libertarians should be doing if they want the libertarian movement to grow.
Keynes vs. Hayek. Fight of the Century! E-con Stories, by John Papola & Russ Roberts. I forgot how good this is.
Dancing in Chicago, young voters gleefully celebrated President Obama’s victory. Indeed, voters younger than 30 may well have changed the outcome of the race. They represented 19 percent of all voters, even more than they did in 2008, and they favored President Obama by 60 to 37 percent, according to exit polling.
One college student asked me, “What exactly are they so excited about?”
Presumably, they aren’t celebrating their job prospects. Under this administration, unemployment of younger Americans and recent college graduates is not very different from the scandalous unemployment rates of youth in failing European countries whose misguided economic policies are creating a nearly jobless generation.
Presumably, they aren’t celebrating the increasing tax burdens awaiting the lucky few of them — mainly those who have studied hard and long and spent a great deal on both the direct and indirect (from delayed entry into the work force) costs of advanced education — who will finally attain lucrative jobs.
CRS report: number of able-bodied adults on food stamps doubled after Obama suspended work requirementPosted: September 19, 2012
Obama administration officials have insisted that their decision to grant states waivers to redefine work requirements for welfare recipients would not “gut” the landmark 1996 welfare reform law. But a new report from the Congressional Research Service obtained by the Washington Examiner suggests that the administration’s suspension of a separate welfare work requirement has already helped explode the number of able-bodied Americans on food stamps.
In addition to the broader work requirement that has become a contentious issue in the presidential race, the 1996 welfare reform law included a separate rule encouraging able-bodied adults without dependents to work by limiting the amount of time they could receive food stamps. President Obama suspended that rule when he signed his economic stimulus legislation into law, and the number of these adults on food stamps doubled, from 1.9 million in 2008 to 3.9 million in 2010, according to the CRS report…
More via CRS report: WashingtonExaminer.com…
As mentioned in Part 1, before I was exposed to Cost’s writing on this subject, I hadn’t encountered the concept of clientelism. But it aptly describes the relationship between voters, and vote-seeking candidates. Public officials trading special favors in exchange for votes is not new, Republicans and Democrats alike. But the increasingly-fragmented targeting of “groups”–dividing citizens into classes of victims, with specialized needs to attend to, at the expense of everyone else–is a tumorous growth that threatens to weaken the Democratic party, undermine its best intentions, and leave them incapable of governing for the public good.
But that assumes their intentions are good in the first place. Are they? The advantages and benefits of this custom are obvious. The more a party’s political machine can foster dependence, the greater the chance the party has of developing a permanent governing class. From Andrew Jackson, to FDR, to JFK, clientelism’s spoken agenda is to protect the concerns of the little guy, but its real agenda is to promote their own party’s rule, to achieve and maintain a lasting political hegemony.
When Romney was captured on tape speaking candidly about the troubling increase in benefit recipients–nearly half of all American homes not paying any federal taxes, but receiving benefits–conceding out loud that this 47% will automatically vote for Obama, they’re unreachable. Romney may have alienated or insulted some listeners, once the comments were leaked and made into political sport. But the historic decline in taxpaying, stake-holding employed citizens, the historic increase in the size of our national debt (and the associated decline in the value of our currency) is a real problem. It’s not just a campaign problem. It’s a National Crisis.
While Romney was speaking frankly about an institutional disadvantage his campaign is faced with, like most observers, I’m more interested in the larger crisis. Appealing to voters about the need to reduce government liabilities, while trying to preserve and protect our necessary obligations, is a less enviable calling card than than the oppositions’s more “caring” approach, making generous promises, offering protection, and fostering dependence. All this while demonizing conservative realists by creating a fantasy caricature of an enemy more dangerous than Iran: The Average Republican. A knuckle-dragging, free-marketeering, hyper-individualistic evil-doer, deaf to the concerns of the disadvantaged.
Whenever I see a campaign use language that’s designed to identify, isolate, and pander to specialized group concerns–instead of recognizing all Americans as free and equal–with promises of favors, tax breaks, rewards, grants, special protection–the more clear it is to me that fostering dependency is no longer simply a way to insure voter loyalty. Maybe it’s now actually required by the legacy political machine in order to survive.
After generations of succeeding at creating classes of victim groups, dependence-fostering Democrats risk being poisoned by their own success. How can they meet their current obligations, much less deliver on the promises of new obligations being made now? What happens when we’re overextended, and run out of taxable income creators? Democrats already have more clients than they can ever hope to service with the customary schemes.
The more the party depends on clientelism in order to govern, the more the relationship between the government and the governed becomes mutually destructive…
Burdened by slow growth and high unemployment—especially long-term unemployment—the American economy faces an uncertain future. We have endured a painful financial crisis and recession, the recovery from which has been nearly nonexistent. Federal debt is exploding and threatening our children and grandchildren. In my view, the reason for this predicament is clear: we have deviated from the principles of economic freedom upon which America was founded.
Few thinkers of the past century understood the importance of economic freedom better than the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek did. As we confront our current situation, Hayek’s work has much to tell us, especially about policy rules, the rule of law, and the importance of predictability—topics that he discussed in his classic The Road to Serfdom (1944) and in greater detail in The Constitution of Liberty (1960). But his work in these areas goes beyond economics into fundamental issues of freedom and the role of government. That’s why reading Hayek is more important than ever…
via City Journal.