Cheap Stuff Makes You (and America) Cheap

This needs to be said, nay it needs to be shouted from the housetops. From Curtis Ellis, writing in American Greatness.

It’s well past time to ask whether procuring cheap imported consumer goods should be the goal of our foreign trade policy and if it’s the best way to raise Americans’ standard of living.

These questions have been the subject of debate throughout our nation’s history. America’s Founders answered with a resounding “No.”

The tea sold by the British East India Company underpriced the leaf colonial merchants were offering. King George’s prime minister Lord North believed that would convince Americans to buy it. “For,” as North said, “men will always go to the cheapest markets.” The Sons of Liberty tossed it in Boston Harbor instead.

The new nation’s first significant piece of legislation, the Tariff Act of 1789, among other things, sought to prevent lower-cost foreign goods from being dumped in America and smothering our own infant industries.

To those who said America should continue buying its manufactured goods from Great Britain, then the world’s low-cost producer, Thomas Jefferson advised “purchasing nothing foreign where an equivalent of domestic fabric[ation] can be obtained, without regard to difference of price.” (Emphasis added.)

Abraham Lincoln’s economic philosophy gave production primacy over consumption as the way to raise the American standard of living.

The goal is “to produce dear labour, that is, high-priced and valuable labour,” wrote Henry Carey, Lincoln’s economic adviser. High-priced laborers would produce more and be able to spend more. Consumption would rise in tandem with production and earning.

“Every man is a consumer to the whole extent of his production. To that point he will go, and beyond it he cannot go,” Carey wrote.

That is: by earning (producing) more is one able to consume (buy) more.

But the American attitude toward “cheap” was perhaps best summed up by William McKinley in a campaign speech he delivered in 1889:

They say “everything would be so cheap” if we only had free trade. Well, everything would be cheap and everybody would be cheap. I do not prize the word “cheap.” . . . It is the badge of poverty . . . when things were the cheapest, men were the poorest. . . . Cheap? Why, cheap merchandise means cheap men, and cheap men mean a cheap country; and that is not the kind of Government our fathers founded . . . We want labor to be well paid, we want the products of the farm . . . we want everything we make and produce to pay a fair compensation to the producer. That is what makes good times.

Fair compensation to the producer is what makes good times.

Indeed it is so, just as it has always been.

I can remember a day, probably about 40 years ago, when I suddenly needed a new dress shirt, likely I dumped a cup of coffee or something on it. So I did what we all do. I drove over to K Mart (then the most common low-cost retailer) and bought myself a new white broadcloth shirt, yes it had way too much polyester in it, but it got me through the day. The most expensive shirt I ever bought, even though I probably paid less than ten dollars for it. Why? Because I never wore it again.

And also a bad deal for K Mart, it was the last time I was in one of their stores.

In whatever developing country it was made, quality didn’t count for much, and this shirt had a collar point that I could not make lay down properly, even after I removed the stay and put in a removable one. And so the shirt was useless, it wasn’t even a useful rag like a cotton shirt would have been, it was just trash to be disposed of.

These days I rarely wear dress shirts, other than for casual shirts, but mine have labels like Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and some others. They fit, they’re made properly, and they’re made with quality materials. If I need a cheap one, I buy it on eBay, although I do prefer to buy new ones.

And that is true all through society, I’ve long since found that an American (British, even Japanese) product from twenty years ago is a much better value than the cheap junk from China than Wal Mart sells. Yes, I miss Sam Walton, he really did try to find low-cost American products, but the kids are more interested in lining their pockets, than in providing a reasonable product at a reasonable price.

The only catch is that you have to know a little bit more about what you are doing, and some products simply aren’t made here anymore, like TVs. Well that what we get for buying cheap Chinese crap, we’ve put entire American companies, and their workers, and those that could fix things, out of business. When is the Last time you saw an RCA repairman when I was a kid they were state of the art?

William McKinley had it exactly right:

I do not prize the word “cheap.” . . . It is the badge of poverty . . . when things were the cheapest, men were the poorest. . . . Cheap? Why, cheap merchandise means cheap men, and cheap men mean a cheap country;

And if you are having trouble finding stuff made in the USA, this may help.

#WEXIT

I live in Nebraska and sometimes dream of moving back to Indiana. But my heritage is the upper midwest, where I feel at home from western Minnesota to the Continental Divide, usually within about a hundred miles of the Canadian border. My family is from northern North Dakota, and my dad told stories of marching in the Canada Day parade in Fort Garry (Winnepeg now). Pretty much all my life I’ve known Canadians, and you know, it’s really hard to tell them from Americans eh.

Maybe that’s why this story struck me.  Canada is having the same battle we are, between the takers, mostly on the coasts, and the makers, in the heartland, only more so than we are. Brandon J. Weichert writes in American Greatness

Canada is a huge country geographically—the world’s second-largest behind Russia—but it’s internally disconnected and highly integrated with its American neighbor. Since vast swaths of the country is uninhabitable, most of the population lives within a two-hour car ride of the U.S. border. As time progresses, Canada’s geopolitical situation will make even less sense than it does now. Its demographics are working against the country’s long-term economic well-being.

More importantly, as the Arctic Circle becomes a zone of strategic competition, the United States will be forced to develop and better defend the territories to its north (just as it did with its Western territories in the 19th and early 20th centuries).

Which makes Alberta an attractive place.

Alberta is an energy-producing giant; the “Texas of the North,” according to the popular saying. Of Canada’s 10 provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan provide the bulk of the economic heft for Canada. Albertans already enjoy the second-highest income of any province in the West. Yet Canada’s central government in Ottawa has made every effort to alienate Alberta.

For years, Albertans have chafed under the high-tax policies of the central government. It’s no wonder. Alberta is a highly productive economic zone and its citizens, understandably, resent having to bear a disproportionate tax burden to help prop up the less productive provinces.

Alberta’s demographic and economic profile is the inverse of many of the other provinces in Canada. Observes Peter Zeihan in his 2014 magnum opus, The Accidental Superpower: “As Canada’s—and Ontario’s and Quebec’s—population continues to age, a far worse than a disproportionate share of [national taxes] will be loaded into the Albertans’ national tax bill.”

This is a classic example of “no taxation without representation.”

Alberta and neighboring Saskatchewan are being taxed for their prosperity—just as the United States was by the British in the run-up to the Revolutionary War. Plus, Alberta’s essential oil and natural gas industry is entirely linked to and dependent on the larger U.S. economy. As time progresses, Albertans understandably will become less interested in being a part of a country that they are underwriting without also enjoying extra benefits for the privilege.

A Western Canada exit—WEXIT—has become a mantra among many Albertans and Saskatchewanians. A few years ago, the Wildrose Party, which began as an Albertan separatist movement but has since merged with another group to form the United Conservative Party, won plaudits from voters by highlighting the growing tensions with Ottawa. Although current polls suggest a majority of Albertans do not favor separation from Canada, support for secession has increased to historic highs (up eight points since the last Ipsos poll was conducted in 2018).

As time progresses, the United Conservative Party naturally will become more powerful as Albertan voters rightly view them as the only thing standing between their hard-earned wealth and a redistributionist government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

OK, I admit it, to me this makes all the sense in the world. It would be excellent for the US if Alberta and perhaps Saskatchewan joined us. Culturally they long since have anyway. For them, it would be a huge improvement. Yes, they, like us would get to support the ne’er do wells in California (and elsewhere), but there are a lot more producers to help in the US, rather than these two provinces carrying all of Canada, most of which is not doing well at all, and for all our problems, we do tend to see reality a bit better.

Adding at least most of Canada’s 3.6 million barrels/per day of oil (most of which goes to market through the US, anyway) to our 15 million barrels/day (around 18.6 mm bbl/day total) gives us an enormous lead. Russia is second at 10.8 million, so nearly double number two.

It also gives those provinces a far greater measure of control of their government, and make no mistake, Canadians are just as fond of self-government as Americans. Not to mention a much better tax structure.

There is also something else, competition is heating up in the Arctic for oil, minerals, and maybe other things. While Alaska is a great bookend, these Provinces give another, a perhaps better route into the Arctic.

That said, it’s not something that America can promote, but we can surely quietly tell our northern cousins that if they so decide, we’d make them quite welcome.

The Bull Roars, and the Schiff Lies

Record highs on the DJ Index, and all the other indices of the economy, during an impeachment inquiry? That’s something new. Why? David Marcus at The Federalist tells us.

Are these two major events on the Acela corridor related? It’s difficult to say, but some experts feared impeachment and removal could put a serious strain on the market. Asked last month by CNN if he believed impeachment could crash the market, former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said that it could, essentially arguing that markets don’t like that kind of political disruption.

So why hasn’t the impeachment inquiry spooked the market? Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at the audit and tax firm RSM, said he does not believe impeachment has any material impact on the markets or economy.

“Given where the public is and the small probability of conviction in the Senate, there is at this time little risk to the outlook…If there should be a major shift in public opinion and the opinion of potential jurors in the U.S. Senate, that is where economists, financial professionals and market actors would first look for stress,” he said.

David Kotok, Chief Investment Office at investment advisory firm Cumberland, stressed a similar point, saying, “The markets see the impeachment process as a pure political ploy. So the metaphor is Clinton, not Nixon. Hence no market reaction to impeachment proceedings. So far, this is not a Nixon type story. If evidence surfaces to a smoking gun level like the Nixon 18 ½ minute gap in a tape, then things change.”

There are few things telling about this situation. First, it is yet another indicator that experts in myriad fields believe the Trump presidency will survive. Democrats, and progressives in the media are now claiming they always knew the Senate would never convict, but only a few weeks ago they were waxing poetic about how televised hearings would sway public opinion and pry loose enough GOP senators to sink Trump.

This is also an indicator that the Trump economy continues to chug along creating jobs and growth. The market’s sigh of relief and record highs as the fear of possible removal of Trump subsided show that investors are comfortable with Trump in the White House, and still feel rather bullish.

That’s all true, I think but it is not the whole story. The business of America is business just as we’ve always said. But these indices are reporting what Wall Street thinks, which has very little relation to Main Street. And Main Street employs far more Americans and is closer to them than Wall Street has been in generations. I’m sitting here, in Nebraska, and I can’t remember the last time I met anyone that acknowledged that they support any of the Democrats. They may or they may not be real Trump supporters, but the Democrats have gone in the ditch, on the left side of the road.

You simply don’t have to tell them that if their employer is going broke, they are going to be let go, and they think it proper. You want sage nods of the head out here, from all age groups, ask them how many of them have worked for a poor man (OK, or woman). Sure almost all of us in small construction companies have sometimes worked for chicken and beer, but that is traditional charity, not a job. We understand the problems, in fact, we often share them. Most of my life, I could find any trade I needed, on Christmas Eve if necessary, and they could find me. Like the Thanksgiving day, that I took a thermostat from the electric heater in my garage/office and installed it in a farmer’s so that his bucket of semen (that cost well over $500) wouldn’t freeze. He said (I’m not so sure) that that saved his calving the next year. One does what one can, it’s both good business and good Christianity.

But it’s not what Wall Street types do, ever. Funny thing though, I’d let them and their plumbing too, freeze in the dark, cause what goes around really does come around, and if you’re not careful, it’ll bite you.

Video Monday

I think video Monday is here. First with a hat tip to both International Liberty and The Conservative Woman.

TCW kindly added a couple more, Rounds 1 and 2 of Keynes v Hayek. Enjoy.

 

And here is Mollie Hemingway on the divide in America today

 

Fight Her Till She Sinks

Well, you know our problems as well as I do. We’ve got ourselves some iconoclasts running about trying to destroy our heritage by destroying anything (like statues) that remind us of who we are while quoting Marx (sadly Karl, not Groucho). We’ve got a media and deep state that thinks they know better than the people and should rule us, the people who invented the maxim that America being ungovernable is a feature, not a bug. We’ve got a lot of problems but the words of Captain James Lawrence of USS Chesapeake, “Don’t give up the ship, fight her till she sinks”.

Some say he wasn’t the greatest captain in our history, and the crew did give up the ship after he died, but his words live on, not least because Commodore Oliver hazard Perry had the first part made into a flag and nailed to his mast at the famous (and very unlikely) victory at the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813.

That legacy lives on, in Erie Pennsylvania as Salena Zito tells us in American Greatness.

Several large pieces of cobalt-blue glass panels bearing “Don’t Give Up the Ship” and a bold likeness of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry lay broken at the top of the third-floor stairs of the old Park Place building in the city’s main square.

If ever there were a motto that exemplified a place and her people, it would be those five words Perry had stitched on a flag—words that inspired him over 200 years ago when he bore the flag in his unlikely defeat of the British at the Battle of Lake Erie.

Given everything this town has gone through—from her heyday as the industrial powerhouse of the Great Lakes to a city bleeding people, jobs, and opportunity—finding this inspiring reminder in a building that used to produce “Carter’s Little Liver Pills” brought into focus the city’s effort at rebuilding. […]

John Persinger and Matt Wachter could live in any other city in the country and prosper quite nicely. Instead, the CEO and vice president of finance and development are the founding leaders of the Erie Downtown Development Corporation. They, along with Tim NeCastro, CEO of Erie Insurance, the city’s largest employer, have committed themselves to not give up the ship but to stabilize and rebuild it.

All three men are standing along a row of century-old buildings on North Park Row. The bones are good, but the buildings have all seen better days. The three men are discussing the projects they already have underway. These are projects meant to spark a cultural and culinary center, which they hope will, in turn, lead to a citywide metamorphosis.

“This is Perry Square. This is the heart of downtown. It’s often been called the ‘beating heart,’ but we’re not sure how much it beats these days because there’s not a whole lot of activity,” he said of the boarded-up buildings and scant pedestrian activity.

Here’s the odd thing: The moribund heart is surrounded by an arc of life. “UPMC Hamot campus is a few blocks away,” Persinger explains, “where they (are) putting in a new $111 million patient tower.”

There’s more: “Erie Insurance employs 3,000 people right there. They’re building a new office building. You can kind of see it over the tree line.”

And that’s how, I think, we are going to solve our problems if they are to be solved. Not by running to Washington for grant money, not by asking experts, but by going and doing it ourselves. After all, that is how we built this country, and it’s how we will rebuild it, better than ever.

For America, the rule is going to have to be the one Captain Lawrence gave us:

Don’t give up the ship,

Fight her till she sinks.

Patriots not Globalists

I noted an article at The Duran yesterday. While I suspect many of you have not heard of the site, I often enjoy their view,  which is not conventional. Here Matthew Ehret comments on Trump’s speech to the UN. The video clip is at the link: “Future Belongs To Patriots, Not Globalists”: Donald Trump Tells UN.

The author states that:

This powerful intervention broke the narrative that the UN Climate summit or the attempts to impeach him had anything to do with “saving the environment” or “stopping corruption in politics” as those running these operations would have us believe. The reality, as Trump eloquently made clear at this venue, is that the issue now, as it has always been, is truly about the nature of the world order- and whether that order shall be run by sociopathic technocrats under a one world government, or patriots under a community of sovereign nation states.

He’ll get no argument from me on that.

But there’s more. Ehret, I had never heard of so I Duck, Ducked him. He’s an iconoclastic Canadian author, who has done a lot of work on the roots of the ‘Deep State’. It’s probably a good thing for a Canadian to research, more than anyone they sit halfway between Britain and America. He seems to be making the point that the ‘Deep State’ is, in fact, the old British elite’s attempt to reestablish the old Empire, that he says failed about the time of the Boer war.

I think he may be correct. One of the things that I have never understood was  FDR’s antipathy to the Empire. Ehret puts it in opposition to the American system as designed by Hamilton and further extended by Lincoln.

He has authored a 55 page PDF on the origin of the ‘Deep State’ that I found this morning. While I’m only about a fifth of the way through it, I’m finding it fascinating. From the introduction:

“Two systems are before the world; the one looks to increasing the proportion of persons and of capital engaged in trade and transportation, and therefore to diminishing the proportion engaged in  producing commodities with which to trade, with necessarily diminished return to the labour of all; while the other looks to increasing the proportion engaged in the work of production, and         diminishing that engaged in trade and transportation, with increased return to all, giving to the labourer good wages, and to the owner of capital good profits… One looks to under working the Hindoo, and sinking the rest of the world to his level; the other to raising the standard of man throughout the world to our level.

One looks to pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, and barbarism; the other in increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization. One looks towards universal war; the other towards universal peace. One is the English system; the other we may be proud to call the American system, for it is the only one ever devised the tendency of which was that of elevating while equalizing the condition of man throughout the world.”

– Henry C. Carey, Harmony of Interests, 1856

The PDF is here. I do not know if he is right, nor do I know he is wrong. But, either way, it is by far the most plausible answer to the origin of that shadowy grouping that I have read. If you are interested,  you should too.

 

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