Things That Grabbed My Attention Yesterday

We’re going to pull back from the daily nonsense today, the Brits are voting and there’s not much new in the Washington nonsense. Let’s take a look at some background on various things. Some days there is just so much good material out there that I can’t decide. It’s a pleasant problem.

Ben Domenech at The Federalist disagrees with Time Magazine’s choice of Greta Thunberg as person of the year, as do I. He says in relation to her…

[…] a teenager who skipped school to travel around the world telling people that they are horrible and the planet is doomed. It’s a living. Perhaps her Malthusian visions will be fulfilled by future experience. But it’s not very likely.

Heh! I wish I’d written that! His choice I also agree with…

In defiance of the most powerful authoritarian regime in the modern world, the protester in Hong Kong has stood against the authority of Red China with courage and dedication. […]

There is no bigger fight. And so, the Hong Kong protester is the Person of the Year.

He’s right. That is the person/people that free people should be honoring.


There’s a remarkable (and remarkably long) essay by George Callaghan at The Duran on the problems (and possible solutions) in British education. Some are specific to Britain and/or England, but many apply to America, as well. My curation software says 45 minutes, it’s well worth it.

I don’t see anything short enough to give you a taste, so if it is an interest of yours, go read it. I agree with all of it that I think applies to the US, I simply don’t know enough about British education to have a valid opinion.


Unintended Consequences has made Britain a frustrating laughingstock for the last three years. Why? Abram N. Shulsky at Law and Liberty has figured out some of the reasons why the British government has gotten so pear-shaped. It’s a danger we face as well, as so many (especially on the left) want to tinker with our constitution.

The recent chaos resulted from two innovations that weren’t entirely consistent with the underlying principles of the British regime: the Fixed-term Parliament Act of 2011 (FTPA) and the Brexit referendum of 2015.  Both were introduced to solve short-term political problems.

It’s an excellent explanation of how the (primarily) Conservative Party has failed to conserve the things that made the Westminster System work.


Walter E. Williams at The Daily Signal tells us that Richard Ebeling, professor of economics at The Citadel, has an essay in the American Institute for Economic Research that clarifies how Capitalism is a morally superior system.

In a key section of his article, Ebeling lays out what he calls the ethical principles of free markets. He says:

The hallmark of a truly free market is that all associations and relationships are based on voluntary agreement and mutual consent. Another way of saying this is that in the free market society, people are morally and legally viewed as sovereign individuals possessing rights to their life, liberty, and honestly acquired property, who may not be coerced into any transaction that they do not consider being to their personal betterment and advantage.

Ebeling says that the rules of a free market are simple and easy to understand:

You don’t kill, you don’t steal, and you don’t cheat through fraud or misrepresentation. You can only improve your own position by improving the circumstances of others. Your talents, abilities, and efforts must all be focused on one thing: What will others take in trade from you for the revenues you want to earn as the source of your own income and profits?

They are both spot on.


Dylan Pahman at Law and Liberty has an essay on why economic nationalism fails.

However, at present economic liberty has fallen out of favor with some who see a sea change in recent events—from the election of President Trump in the United States to Great Britain’s “Brexit” referendum—moving away from a perceived elitist, globalist liberalism and back toward the old order of nation states, not only politically but also economically.

He does an excellent job of laying out the underpinning, and I mostly agree with him, completely in theory in fact. This is the Libertarian/Conservative rationale for free trade, and mostly it is true.

But


Curtis Ellis at American Greatness lays out why Globalism and Progressivism make such a toxic stew.

The reformers of the Progressive era championed safety standards for food, drugs, and labor.

The Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906 gave birth to the Food and Drug Administration. The chief chemist at the Department of Agriculture had mobilized a coalition of women’s clubs, physicians, and pharmacists to lobby for uniform national standards for patent medicines.

It worked, mostly, although it was and is very expensive. Now add Globalism

Communist China is the world’s largest producer and exporter of “active pharmaceutical ingredients,” the base components drug companies use to manufacture most of the medications found on store shelves across America. Today, 80 percent of prescription drugs consumed in the United States originate in India and China.

Drug companies are not required to disclose the country of origin of the active ingredients in their products. That means consumers are unknowingly exposed to the risks associated with drugs made in China.

What are those risks? Well, in 2008, 100 Americans died after taking the anticoagulant heparin that was made in China. Some of the heparin was fraudulently replaced with chondroitin, a dietary supplement for joint aches.

Now what? The free traders say the Chicoms are the low-cost producer and it makes economic sense for our drug hoses to buy their product. The families of a hundred dead Americans are likely to disagree. And if we are going to use uninspected raw material, what exactly is the point of the FDA?

That’s the kind of real-world problem that always screws up those lovely theoretical solutions. The answer? We don’t really have one yet.

That should be enough to keep you out of trouble for a while! 🙂

Of Elections and Counter Revolutions

Tomorrow Britain votes in a general election, the prime contenders are Boris Johnson of the (not) Conservative Party and Jeremy Corbyn of the CPSU Labour Party. What’s going to happen is anybody’s guess. There are several smaller parties including The Brexit Party that ran the table in the European elections, but has recently waned, although they might pick up a seat or so, there is the UnLiberal Not Democrats who will take remainer votes (maybe) from Labour. UKIP has a few candidates and an outstanding Manifesto, which means little since they’ll be very lucky to get one seat, and more, including The Monster Raving Loony Party which is a good description of this election.

The best write up I’ve seen is this, from Law and Liberty The best ad I’ve seen is this new one from the Conservatives.

Pretty cute, and just a bit Trumpian. That’s important, Britain is fighting the same revolution we are, against their own deep state and the politicians embedded in it. So we’ll see. Not least if Boris can break free from his own swamp background.


Then there is Washington, where the House has gone not so much extra-constitutional as downright anti-constitutional. Well, we know how that plays in Peoria, don’t we? Christopher Knight in American Thinker is good on this.

When I consider Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, and Jerry Nadler maneuvering for impeachment of President Donald Trump, it is with some dark bewilderment. They have no idea what disaster they are courting for themselves and their allies. It will not end well for them. […]

Since the summer of 2015 the hardliners of the Deep State have gazed at Trump with derision, then desperation, and now total destruction in mind. To them the American people simply aren’t meant for a loosening of control and regaining oversight of their own government. Trump’s message resonated with those same American people as had nothing in recent memory. Democracy came to Eastern Europe by ballots and not bullets. So too did American citizenry in flyover country begin to revolt against their elitist masters.

It wasn’t part of “the plan” and perhaps for the first time ever, the Deep State shuddered in fear. The revolution was not only televised, it was splayed across Facebook and Twitter. But if not Trump himself, someone else would have inevitably threatened the entrenched political and media complex. The peril would come. It was only a matter of when. […]

Who among the faces of this “glorious revolution” will win the White House in 2020? It may be the most lackluster field of candidates in modern history. Which alone indicates to me that Trump would be too smart than to level unethical sabotage against any political opponent: Joseph Biden will never be as formidable as even George McGovern. And Adam Schiff as the one who will go down in legend as the man who toppled the President? Oh please….

In short, it’s pretty much all over, but the executions err trials. What could rekindle the whole mess? You know as well as I, and I think Barr and Durham know it as well. If that happens, the half a billion privately owned arms held by the foresight of the founder’s might make an appearance. Not to be wished, it is a doomsday alternative, but it is more likely than at any time since 1865.

Performance Failure?

So, the Inspector General’s report on Crossfire Hurricane (the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign) and Carter Page is out. I haven’t read it (and don’t intend to), I have better things to do than read 476 pages of government gobbledegook. But you can if you want to, it’s available here (pdf), from the Justice Department, and Powerline has it in their Scribd as well. What I’m going to do is listen to those who have been proved over time as reliable. One of those is Scott Johnson at PowerLine (linked above), another is Paul Mirendorf, also at PowerLine, and there is also Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist. All three have followed this story much closer than I have, and I have always found them reliable.

The first thing I want to caution you about is to not merely read the executive summary, as so often, it does not match the contents of the document (rather like the IPCC documents, I gather). That is not unusual, everybody and their dog knows that most people only read the executive summary, so you can tell all in the document itself, and spin it like a drill motor in the summary. I think it dishonest, but nobody ever asked me.

By now we all are sick of the phrase “mistakes were made” That seems to come up here as well. In fact, Horowitz documents no less than seventeen serious errors of one kind or another. They happened to all go against the Republicans, but he says he has no evidence of bias. Given an IG’s (lack of) power that is probably so, no one not currently employed by the DOJ has to talk to him, and he has little power. People are not likely to say, “Sure, I broke the law to get Trump”. These people are probably not as smart as they think they are, but they aren’t that stupid.

In any case, seventeen errors and all go one way, the odds of that happening by chance are about 1 in 172,000. That’s slightly worse than getting 3 balls and the Powerball on a ticket. It happens, but not often, in fact, on the last drawing it happened 4 times in Nebraska out of however many million tickets were sold.

And note this, Horowitz said he did not have evidence of political bias, not that there was no political bias, which is what the MSM is already spouting. See the difference in that. Sure, in a sense it’s CYA, but an IG lives in the swamp, what did you expect? Few of us bite the hand that feeds us. IG Horowitz testifies in the Senate tomorrow. Better him than me!

There is going to be a tornado of spin on this, I think. The body of the report, my sources say, is pretty damning for all the players. It also appears that AG Barr and US Attorney Durham, who have actual power, were not amused. Barr said this:

Nothing is more important than the credibility and integrity of the FBI and the Department of Justice. That is why we must hold our investigators and prosecutors to the highest ethical and professional standards. The Inspector General’s investigation has provided critical transparency and accountability, and his work is a credit to the Department of Justice. I would like to thank the Inspector General and his team.

The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken. It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory. Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration. In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source. The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory. While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process.

FISA is an essential tool for the protection of the safety of the American people. The Department of Justice and the FBI are committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to rectify the abuses that occurred and to ensure the integrity of the FISA process going forward.

No one is more dismayed about the handling of these FISA applications than Director Wray. I have full confidence in Director Wray and his team at the FBI, as well as the thousands of dedicated line agents who work tirelessly to protect our country. I thank the Director for the comprehensive set of proposed reforms he is announcing today, and I look forward to working with him to implement these and any other appropriate measures.

With respect to DOJ personnel discussed in the report, the Department will follow all appropriate processes and procedures, including as to any potential disciplinary action.

That’s a pretty strong statement when one remembers that this is the Attorney General of the United States. Disciplinary action could well include a vacation at some of the least pleasant places in the United States.

United States Attorney John Durham (who is charged with the criminal investigation) said this:

I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff. However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department. Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.

And that is the preview (I think) at the end of this rather boring movie.

On Line, Fix Bayonets

War is the continuation of politics by other means.

Carl von Clausewitz

 

So, Nancy Pelosi has decided, regardless of the evidence to go ahead with impeachment. Why? After all, it’s a guaranteed loser in the Senate and mostly serves to even more divide the country. Eric Georgatos writing in American Thinker has a theory.

There’s something about the timing of Pelosi’s announcement relative to next Monday’s release of IG Horowitz’s report that makes it seem very possible she’s going for a grand bargain with President Trump.

She’s on record saying there will be a House vote because the facts of Trump’s egregious behavior warrant no less. That, in her world, constitutes a giant sword of Damocles over Trump (he’ll be in the history books as an ‘impeached President’) or, more practically, a giant negotiating chit with President Trump when the ‘stuff’ hits the fan from Horowitz’ report and the Barr/Durham follow-up.

This makes sense to me, Pelosi has never been anything but a politician and her dad was as well (although there are substantial rumors that he was well connected in organized crime circles, as well). Having grown up near Chicago that would not surprise me even slightly, and Baltimore (where she’s from isn’t very different. But big-city politics is not quite the all-pervasive thing that it is in the cities in the rest of the country

And the word ‘orchestrated’ in this context includes the fabrication of evidence and the deliberate leaking by top officials of confidential information to harm Donald Trump. It is behavior the vast majority of Americans have never thought their government officials to be capable of; it is deceit and dishonesty on a nearly unimaginable scale; it is unconscionable evil.

IG Horowitz’ report will both confirm and add fuel to the bonfire of anger already sweeping the country among American patriots. The demand for Barr/Durham to impose accountability will be at DefCon 3, and not even clubby senators are going to be able to manage or control it.

For reference, the last time we were at DEFCON 3 was the Cuban Missile Crisis (SAC was at DEFCON 2 then). We have never been at DEFCON 2 worldwide. In this scenario, I think that there are a lot of Americans who will identify themselves as SAC, there is a reason why last Friday saw the second-largest ever number of NCIS checks for gun purchases It missed the record by about 600. That after eight years where Obama was the best gun salesman America ever saw.

And so Nancy Pelosi may believe she had better have something in hand to bargain with President Trump to temper the fire that might just consume for decades the Democratic Party that lies behind this grotesque abuse of government power.

So Pelosi’s pitch may be: Mr. Trump, we’ll drop the impeachment vote if you’ll call off Barr/Durham. You can then tweet all you want about what Horowitz reported (and we’ll rely on the MSM to smother it, and report our counter-spin), and we’ll yammer all we want about the serious case for impeachment that we’ve uncovered. But to save the country from the risk of hot war, we’ll drop our impeachment attack on you, and you’ll drop the Barr/Durham attack on our coup.

Yeah, Whatever.

About those bayonets

Mr. Georgatos uses the example of COL (later BGEN) Joshua Chamberlin the quiet scholarly colonel of the 20th Maine at Gettysburg, where he won the Medal of Honor for leading his regiment in a bayonet charge at Little Round Top on the second day securing the left of the Army of the Potomac’s line. When that charge started the regiment was out of ammunition. It’s an excellent example of the American way. He was also the officer who formally took the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, calling the Army of the Potomac to ‘Carry Arms” when the Confederates marched in.

But as I look around, I think a better example is LT (later COL) Rick Rescorla, of the 2/7th Cavalry at the First of Ia Drang in 1965, where he found his platoon heavily engaged by an ambush at LZ Albany, and where the LT, an immigrant from Cornwall, and combat veteran of the British Para’s gave their command sequence, “On Line, Fix Bayonets, Ready Forward”. He became the face of the battle in the film We Were Soldiers Once, and Young. And one of the most moving sequences is the climax when the Spad (and the gunships) comes to their support. And we have definitely been ambushed.

Why do I think this may be a better example? One, because while the cause might be in rather dire straits (the cause being the Republic itself) we have perhaps overwhelming support, and we’re not short of ammunition, although it may not be at the point of action.

I also think that the fact that LT Rescorla was a Briton matters. Yes, Americans make superb soldiers, but that too is partly part of our heritage from Britain.

And if I were Boris Johnson, I do not think I’d be laughing very much, he’s got his own problems with a very restive native population. And for the very same reason. Not for nothing did Kipling write.

“My son,” said the Norman Baron, “I am dying, and you will be heir
To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for share
When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:–

“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.

“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears;
But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield.

“But first you must master their language, their dialect, proverbs and songs.
Don’t trust any clerk to interpret when they come with the tale of their wrongs.
Let them know that you know what they’re saying; let them feel that you know what to say.
Yes, even when you want to go hunting, hear ’em out if it takes you all day.

They’ll drink every hour of the daylight and poach every hour of the dark.
It’s the sport not the rabbits they’re after (we’ve plenty of game in the park).
Don’t hang them or cut off their fingers. That’s wasteful as well as unkind,
For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher makes the best man- at-arms you can find.

“Appear with your wife and the children at their weddings and funerals and feasts.
Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish priests.
Say ‘we,’ ‘us’ and ‘ours’ when you’re talking, instead of ‘you fellows’ and ‘I.’
Don’t ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell ’em a lie!”

It’s a timeless warning to those who would oppress free English speaking people. It’s also the explanation of why the United States lined up with the protestors in Hong Kong.

It’s entirely possible that we will witness the suppression of the Democratic Party for generations. And it may be nearly as bloody as the first time.

Destroying the Heartland

Did you see Tucker Carlson the other night, talking about Paul Singer? If not, here it is and for that matter, if you did, watch it again.

He’s spot on, judging by what I know. John Daniel Davidson in The Federalist adds detail to what Tucker says.

The point of highlighting the fate of this one town and the role of Singer in its demise isn’t to vilify capitalism or the free market in general, but to point out how the system is engineered to benefit the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else. As Willis Krumholtz explains nearby in greater detail, the story of Cabela’s and the people of Sidney is an example of “financial engineering that paid a select few off, while the whole suffered.”

This critique goes to the heart of what the political right has been grappling with in the age of Trump. What is the proper role of the government ad public policy in American society? Whose interests should it serve?

Much of what’s behind Trump-era populism, not just in America but across the West, is the dawning realization that the post-Cold War global capitalist system doesn’t necessarily benefit working- and middle-class Americans—or at least that free trade and global capitalism aren’t unmitigated goods. They have costs, and those costs are borne disproportionately by ordinary people, the kind of people who get laid off from Cabela’s for no good reason other than it made Singer a pile of money.

This isn’t just an economic question. The role of government is also at the center of the ongoing Sohrab Amari-David French debate on the right about whether the public sphere can really ever be neutral and what, if anything, conservatives should do to advance what they see as the good. Libertarian-minded conservatives like French look at drag queen story hour and conclude, hey, this is just the price of liberty. We can no more use government power to prohibit drag queens in public libraries than we can use it to prohibit any other kind of free speech

Ahmari and others have challenged this way of thinking, positing that liberty has an object, which is the good, and that government’s role is not just to protect liberty but also to promote and defend the good. Things like stable and intact families, prosperous communities, and vibrant churches and schools aren’t merely what we hope might spring forth from unfettered liberty secured by a neutral and indifferent government; they’re the entire purpose of securing liberty in the first place.

The phrase A more perfect Union comes to mind. Our founders didn’t design a country to make certain individuals rich. They, and we mostly have no objection to that, it is the proper outcome of doing your job well. That doesn’t mean that doing your job well means to destroy the neighborhood or even the region.

Also in The Federalist and also linked above, Willis L. Krumholz gives a very good explanation of how this works.

Delphi, too, is a complicated story. The automotive parts company was coming out of bankruptcy before Singer bought it. That doesn’t excuse the mass-outsourcing of jobs, or policies that allowed this to happen even after a taxpayer bailout, but Singer doesn’t face the sole responsibility for what happened to those jobs.

Yet there’s a dark side to Singer’s brand of capitalism. For example, the case was surely made that Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops had “synergies.” They sell the same stuff, and the stores even look similar. But the two companies were separately profitable. Now, the combined company has a ton of debt, and little room to grow profit aside from cutting costs and using their newly acquired market power to increase prices.

Not only that, if everything is about shareholder returns, it should be noted that most mergers destroy shareholder wealth, not build it.

Hedge funds are different than private equity funds, and there are various types of private equity and hedge fund strategies. Many are totally benign, and often, private equity actually helps firms start up or recover from bankruptcy.

But there is a strain of private equity, known as leveraged buyouts (LBOs), that has been more destructive. In an LBO, a private equity (PE) firm buys a company. But that company is too big and expensive to be bought with the PE money alone, so paying out the existing shareholders requires saddling the company with oodles of debt. Often, 90 percent of the acquisition price is funded via debt.

But the PE firm doesn’t owe that debt, the company does, and some of the debt can even be used to pay the PE firm, and its partners, a dividend. The PE firm then exits the investment by re-taking the company “public” at what the PE firm hopes is a higher share price. At this point the PE firm has made money, and has no ties to the company it used to own, but that company still has the debt load.

OK read the articles and draw your own conclusions, I’m no expert, Thank God since I like to sleep at night, but I’ve watched over the last decade as Cabela’s has gone from being one of my favorite stores to a place I’d just as soon avoid. And closer to me, I’ve watched as Monroe Shock Absorbers has closed a plant that kept a town going, and as whatever Baldwin Filters is now, did the same to another town 10 miles away.

It’s real, it’s happening, and it’s eating the heart out of the middle of the country. Here, for my money, is one of the causes of many of the problems, including the opioids epidemic have their roots.

But Wait, There’s More!

I’m even less of an expert on who owns the GOP, although I’ve my suspicions. But I suspect Ace has a pretty good clue, and he’s one of very few who has the guts to call it as he sees it.

People like Paul Singer control the GOP and are effectively in a conspiracy against actual GOP voters. When Singer’s kid announced he was gay, Paul Singer basically mandated that the GOP become pro-gay marriage, and the GOP complied.

Another billionaire funder, Stanley Hubbard, told, in 2016, his own pet candidate Scott Walker that he must not question the Corporate Class Consensus on birthright citizenship and high levels of tolerated, supposedly illegal immigration.

Hubbard issued his rebuke, and Walker changed his tune to sing the Corporate Class anthem within a day.

Tuesday: Stanley Hubbard, a conservative billionaire who oversees a Minnesota broadcasting company and has donated to Walker’s campaign, confronts Walker on the issue during a lunch in Minnesota. Hubbard strongly opposes ending birthright citizenship, and he tells The Washington Post that he “might really quickly change my allegiance” if Walker pushs for such a repeal. Hubbard says he “did not get a real straight answer” from the candidate, but he comes away ready to write more checks to help Walker, adding, “I got the feeling that he is not at all anxious to talk about taking away those rights.”

A lot of “conservative journalists” are actually bought-and-paid-for propagandists for monied interests. You know how AEI “chairs” work? Specific billionaires fund specific “chairs” and give them to specific propagandists posing as “journalists.”

And

Meanwhile, Paul Singer calls the shots in the GOP. If you ever wonder why the GOP supports so many unpopular positions with incredible zeal and passion (such as vulture capitalism), and why the GOP runs away from some popular issues like border enforcement, and why the GOP takes the Democrat side on issues which are 50/50 (gay stuff, abortion), it’s because very rich liberals like Paul Singer, who have no interest in the GOP or conservatism except to pervert it into a tool to help put more money into their pockets,, have willed it so, and all of our chickenshit “representatives” can’t quit that sweet, sweet plutocrat money.

Pretty much, whenever the GOP is acting in what appears to be an inexplicably stupid or traitorous way, the reason is that, of course, they’re being paid to act that way, and they of course can’t admit that publicly.

It’s time to take this trash out.

Past time, actually. It’s been stinking for decades. But better late than never.

As for Ben Sasse, it was pretty obvious even before he was elected that he was a tool, long since bought and paid for. It’s people like him that cause us to hold our noses and vote for the least evil. It’s also why I almost never vote for an incumbent. And yes, I will be voting against him next year in the primary. In the general, we’ll have to see.

I see Sen Sasse has responded to Tucker Carlson, it is here. You make your own call, I have.

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.

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