2 months ago

Trump’s Tariffs: Seen beneficiaries, unseen victims

There are a couple of important economic lessons that the American people should learn. I’m going to title one “the seen and unseen” and the other “narrow well-defined large benefits versus widely dispersed small costs.” These lessons are applicable to a wide range of government behavior, but let’s look at just two examples.

Last week, President Donald Trump enacted high tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. Why in the world would the U.S. steel and aluminum industries press the president to levy heavy tariffs? The answer is simple. Reducing the amounts of steel and aluminum that hit our shores enables American producers to charge higher prices. Thus, U.S. steel and aluminum producers will earn higher profits, hire more workers and pay them higher wages. They are the visible beneficiaries of Trump’s tariffs.

But when the government creates a benefit for one American, it is a virtual guarantee that it will come at the expense of another American — an unseen victim. The victims of steel and aluminum tariffs are the companies that use steel and aluminum. Faced with higher input costs, they become less competitive on the world market. For example, companies such as John Deere may respond to higher steel prices by purchasing their parts in the international market rather than in the U.S. To become more competitive in the world market, some firms may move their production facilities to foreign countries that do not have tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum. Studies by both the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition show that steel-using industries — such as the U.S. auto industry, its suppliers and manufacturers of heavy construction equipment — were harmed by tariffs on steel enacted by George W. Bush.

Politicians love having seen beneficiaries and unseen victims. The reason is quite simple. In the cases of the steel and aluminum industries, company executives will know whom to give political campaign contributions. Workers in those industries will know for whom to cast their votes. The people in the steel- and aluminum-using industries may not know whom to blame for declining profits, lack of competitiveness and job loss. There’s no better scenario for politicians. It’s heads politicians win and tails somebody else loses.

Then there’s the phenomenon of narrow well-defined large benefits versus widely dispersed small costs. A good example can be found in the sugar industry. Sugar producers lobby Congress to place restrictions on the importation of foreign sugar through tariffs and quotas. Those import restrictions force Americans to pay up to three times the world price for sugar. A report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that Americans pay an extra $2 billion a year because of sugar tariffs and quotas. Plus, taxpayers will be forced to pay more than $2 billion over the next 10 years to buy and store excess sugar produced because of higher prices. Another way to look at the cost side is that tens of millions of American families are forced to pay a little bit more, maybe $20, for the sugar we use every year.

You might wonder how this consumer rip-off sustains itself. After all, the people in the sugar industry are only a tiny percentage of the U.S. population. Here’s how it works. It pays for workers and owners in the sugar industry to come up with millions of dollars to lobby congressmen to impose tariffs and quotas on foreign sugar. It means higher profits and higher wages. Also, it’s easy to organize the relatively small number of people in the sugar industry. The costs are borne by tens of millions of Americans forced to pay more for the sugar they use. Even if the people knew what the politicians are doing, it wouldn’t be worth the cost of trying to unseat a legislator whose vote cost them $20 a year. Politicians know that they won’t bear a cost from sugar consumers. But they would pay a political cost from the sugar industry if they didn’t vote for tariffs. So they put it to consumers — but what else is new?

(Image: President Donald J. Trump signs the Section 232 Proclamations on Steel and Aluminum Imports. White House/Flickr)

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

COPYRIGHT 2018 CREATORS.COM

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22 mins ago

Trump: Hire America also means helping former inmates get work

President Donald Trump’s Hire American plan includes helping former inmates find gainful employment, he said Friday at the White House Prison Reform Summit.

“When we talk about our national program to hire American, this must include helping millions of former inmates get back into the workforce as gainfully employed citizens,” the president said. “At the heart of our prison reform agenda is expanding prison work and the programs so that inmates can reenter society with the skills to get a job.

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“We also want more mental health services so released inmates can cope with the challenges of life on the outside, and some of those challenges are not easy. We’re developing more effective drug treatment so that former prisoners can remain drug-free,” he said.

“Prison reform is an issue that unites people from across the political spectrum,” Trump said, adding, “Our whole nation benefits if former inmates are able to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens.”

He said over 62,000 inmates are released from mostly state prisons, and they struggle to find a job, stay off drugs, and “avoid old habits that lead them back to a life of crime, back to prison.”

“Drugs are playing a tremendously big role in our lives — in so many lives — not only having to do with prisoners, but having to do with people that never thought they’d be addicted, that never thought they’d have a problem like this, that are having a really hard time coping — drugs. We’re doing a big, big job on drugs. It is a scourge in this country,” the president said.

“In this effort, we are not just absolving prisoners of their central role in their own rehabilitation. There is no substitute for personal accountability, and there is no tolerance for those who take advantage of society’s generosity to prey upon the innocent,” Trump said.

The president said he supports prison reform efforts, and he pledged to sign prison reform legislation that clears Congress.

“As we speak, legislation is working through Congress to reform our federal prisons. My administration strongly supports these efforts, and I urge the House and Senate to get together — and there are a lot of senators, a lot of Congress people that want to get this passed — to work out their differences. Get a bill to my desk. I will sign it, and it’s going to be strong, it’s going to be good, it’s going to be what everybody wants,” Trump said.

A bipartisan prison reform bill backed by the White House cleared the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

The FIRST STEP Act (H.R. 5682), sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries,” provides for programs to help reduce the risk that prisoners will recidivate upon release from prison, and for other purposes.

The bill authorizes the Bureau of Prisons to spend $50 million a year for five years on job training and education programs to reduce recidivism. It also clarifies current law to allow inmates up to 54 days of credit for good behavior each year. It was previously interpreted to allow only 47 days a year.

The bill also has the support of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Several Democrats – Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and John Lewis (D-Ga.) – wrote to their fellow Democratic lawmakers Thursday urging them not to support the bill, spearheaded by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, because they say it is “flawed” and doesn’t include sentencing reform.

(Courtesy CNSNews.com)

52 mins ago

4-year-old Alabamian Austin Perine feeding the homeless with huge heart and wise words: ‘don’t forget to show love!’

Most 4-year-olds live with only a few things on their minds: Mom, Dad, siblings, play, eat and drink.

Not Austin Perine.

He feeds the homeless.

Ask him why, and be prepared for a simple but wise answer.

“If you were homeless, would you want to be fed? Well, that’s why I’m feeding the homeless, because they’re hungry,” Austin responds.

(Austin Perine is a young Alabama Bright Light who proves some heroes do wear capes from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.)

Austin wears a superhero cape when he goes on his feeding outings with his father, T.J. Perine. At Linn Park recently, the little guy handed sandwiches and drinks to the homeless. Every time, he exclaimed, “Don’t forget to show love!”

Show Love is the name of the nonprofit the elder Perine started.

“This whole thing started when we were sitting at home watching Animal Planet and a baby panda was abandoned by its mom,” Perine said. “Just to give him an answer, I told Austin that the panda would be homeless. Then he asked, ‘Well, are people homeless?’ and I said yes. That sparked an idea for him to want to come and feed the homeless, so here we are just a few months later.”

A few of the homeless at Linn Park knew little Austin with his superhero cape, and exchanged hugs and fist bumps. Those who did not know him were flabbergasted. One homeless man said he’d never seen anything like this.

Most people are concerned with their own well-being. The few who show this level of dedication to serving others are usually adults with a giving spirit. For Austin, it’s not about age but empathy.

Austin explained how doing this makes him feel inside.

“When I feed the homeless it makes me really happy and I think what I do is very special,” Austin said. “When I grow up I want to be president. My jobs when I become president would be to feed the homeless and to chase the bad guys out of schools.”

Austin’s efforts have garnered worldwide attention from media outlets interested in his story.

“We’ve been on CNN, NBC and CBS, and we’ve been covered by news in France, Germany and England,” Perine said. “Austin has been doing his thing and has no idea; he’s just being Austin. I think it’s remarkable. Every day I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m still alive, because this is like a dream.”

Austin continued handing out sandwiches and drinks when he got a huge hug from a woman sitting on the steps at Linn Park. She had a grocery cart full of bags and clothes and other items, most likely all she owned.

“When I get hugs from the homeless, it makes me feel great inside,” Austin said.

Remember this: Austin Perine is only 4 years old.

To donate or for information visit, www.presidentaustin.org

(Courtesy Alabama News Center)

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1 hour ago

Inmate escapes from Alabama prison for elderly and sick

Authorities say a 61-year-old old inmate has escaped from Alabama’s prison for elderly and sick prisoners.

A statement from the Department of Corrections say Davis Curtis Wood was wearing only white boxer shorts when he fled the Hamilton Aged and Infirmed Center on Monday morning.

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The medium-security prison in northwestern Alabama is reserved for inmates who are elderly or have special medical needs.

Wood is serving a life sentence for burglary. He was sentenced in Mobile County in 1994.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 hours ago

Storms leave damage scattered across Deep South

Storms that moved across the Deep South left damage scattered across three states.

The Storm Prediction Center says high winds toppled trees and power lines in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia on Sunday.

No serious injuries are being reported, but a storm ripped the roof off a business in the north Alabama town of Hazel Green near Huntsville.

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Falling trees and limbs damaged several buildings in central Mississippi, and a gas station canopy fell on to a car in metro Atlanta.

Forecasters say additional storms with strong winds, heavy rain and intense lightning are possible Monday from Louisiana to Georgia. The weather service isn’t predicting severe weather for the region.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 hours ago

A Trump doctrine for Singapore and beyond

After Pyongyang railed this week that the U.S.-South Korean Max Thunder military drills were a rehearsal for an invasion of the North, and imperiled the Singapore summit, the Pentagon dialed them back.

The B-52 exercises alongside F-22 stealth fighters were canceled.

But Pyongyang had other objections.

Sunday, NSC adviser John Bolton spoke of a “Libyan model” for the North’s disarmament, referring to Moammar Gadhafi’s surrender of all his weapons of mass destruction in 2004. The U.S. was invited into Libya to pick them up and cart them off, whereupon sanctions were lifted.

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As Libya was subsequently attacked by NATO and Gadhafi lynched, North Korea denounced Bolton and all this talk of the “Libyan model” of unilateral disarmament.

North Korea wants a step-by-step approach, each concession by Pyongyang to be met by a U.S. concession. And Bolton sitting beside Trump, and across the table from Kim Jong Un in Shanghai, may be inhibiting.

What was predictable and predicted has come to pass.

If we expected Kim to commit at Singapore to Bolton’s demand for “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,” and a swift follow-through, we were deluding ourselves.

At Singapore, both sides will have demands, and both will have to offer concessions, if there is to be a deal.

What does Kim Jong Un want?

An end to U.S. and South Korean military exercises and sanctions on the North, trade and investment, U.S. recognition of his regime, a peace treaty, and the eventual removal of U.S. bases and troops.

He is likely to offer an end to the testing of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, no transfer of nuclear weapons or strategic missiles to third powers, a drawdown of troops on the DMZ, and the opening of North Korea’s borders to trade and travel.

As for his nuclear weapons and the facilities to produce them, these are Kim’s crown jewels. These brought him to the attention of the world and the Americans to the table. These are why President Trump is flying 10,000 miles to meet and talk with him.

And, unlike Gadhafi, Kim is not going to give them up.

Assuming the summit comes off June 12, this is the reality Trump will face in Singapore: a North Korea willing to halt the testing of nukes and ICBMs and to engage diplomatically and economically.

As for having Americans come into his country, pick up his nuclear weapons, remove them and begin intrusive inspections to ensure he has neither nuclear bombs nor the means to produce, deliver or hide them, that would be tantamount to a surrender by Kim.

Trump is not going to get that. And if he adopts a Bolton policy of “all or nothing,” he is likely to get nothing at all.

Yet, thanks to Trump’s threats and refusal to accept a “frozen conflict” on the Korean peninsula, the makings of a real deal are present, if Trump does not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

For there is nothing North Korea is likely to demand that cannot be granted, as long as the security of South Korea is assured to the degree that it can be assured, while living alongside a nuclear-armed North.

Hence, when Kim cavils or balks in Singapore, as he almost surely will, at any demand for a pre-emptive surrender of his nuclear arsenal, Trump should have a fallback position.

If we cannot have everything we want, what can we live with?

Moreover, while we are running a risk today, an intransigent North Korea that walks out would be running a risk as well.

A collapse in talks between Kim and the United States and Kim and South Korea would raise the possibility that he and his Chinese patrons could face an East Asia Cold War where South Korea and Japan also have acquired nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.

In the last analysis, the United States should be willing to accept both the concessions to the North that the South is willing to make and the risks from the North that the South is willing to take.

For, ultimately, they are the one who are going to have to live on the same peninsula with Kim and his nukes.

Trump ran on a foreign policy that may fairly be described as a Trump Doctrine: In the post-post-Cold War era, the United States will start looking out for America first.

This does not mean isolationism or the abandonment of our allies. It does mean a review and reassessment of all the guarantees we have issued to go to war on behalf of other countries, and the eventual transfer of responsibility for the defense of our friends over to our friends.

In the future, the U.S. will stop futilely imploring allies to do more for their own defense and will begin telling them that their defense is primarily their own responsibility. Our allies must cease to be our dependents.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

(Creators, copyright 2018)