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Sunday, March 04, 2018

Mailvox: Brave Prof. Robin

Free traders always talk a big game. They love to name drop Ricardo and pretend that the false syllogisms of an 18th century con artist still has relevance to economics today, but their arguments are nothing more than outdated theory that will not stand up to two centuries of evidence-based criticism anymore and they know it. Consider the following email exchange with a reader.
I was discussing free trade with a Macroeconomics Professor at George Mason University named Garett Jones. I brought up your debate with Dr. Miller and he didn't have kind words for your work. I brought up Steve Keen and he didn't have kind words for him either. I @ Steve Keen a request to debate this guy and I said maybe you would be willing to host it. Prof Keen said he would be willing to do that. I am sure you have Steve Keen's email. This would be a great debate because George Mason University is one of the better libertarian economic departments in the country. We'll see.

Sure, we can do a 500-seat Brainstorm. Let me know, I'll host and see if the guy will show.

the professor backed out after talking you know what on twitter. He said he has too many deadlines. He spends hours on twitter so that's a nonsense excuse. I told him it would probably only be around an hour but if he doesn't want to back up his rhetoric then that's fine. You and Steve would destroy this guy so it's no wonder he didn't want to debate. Free traders only want to show up on corporate media to shill. 

This is my surprised face....
Sounds rather like the professor spent a few hours poking around here and Steve Keen's site and belatedly realized that he was volunteering for the sort of treatment one normally only experiences in prison washrooms when the guards aren't around.

The truth is that the free traders have NO DEFENSE WHATSOEVER against my labor mobility argument. The best they can do is offer up a lame "nations don't matter" protest that renders their precious free trade abhorrent to 99.9 percent of the population.

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42 Comments:

Blogger Looking Glass March 04, 2018 7:23 PM  

I remember when the big Free Trade push came back in the 1990s. Back then, it was a "response" to the Crony Union/Oligarch policies that had been failing since the 1970s, so there was space to offer something "better". We're over 20 years from the time that NAFTA started, and it's clearly not worked. Crony Multinational/Oligarch policies didn't work either. Go figure.

Which has lead to some really hilarious talking points from the CoC & all of the paid media shills. The import tariffs are far less than the cost changes the manufacturers are already hedged against, so they don't even have a cost argument for the first round. Though the shilling clearly has nothing to do with the tariffs on discussion and everything to do with what comes next: NAFTA.

If one wants to move away from the technical arguments, there's a lot of room to call Free Traders "pillagers" and the like. They've never been under a sustained rhetorical assault since the Globalists took control of the economic reigns in the 1970s. This is going to be fun.

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener March 04, 2018 7:36 PM  

Fair Trade for America.

Blogger Dave March 04, 2018 7:41 PM  

Would enjoy hearing yours and Keen's take on the steel and aluminum tarriffs POTUS is touting. The wailing and gnashing of teeth by the free traders has been hilarious. They become very quiet when asked for their opinion of the higher tarriffs enacted by the EU last year or the fact that Canada imports all of their steel and it's a backdoor through NAFTA for China. Haven't got much for responses yet, except for things like Campbell Soup will have to raise prices. Oh, the horror! Paying pennies more for a can of soup to save our steel industry.

Blogger Lazarus March 04, 2018 7:54 PM  

Carpetbaggers

Blogger Emmanuel Mateo-Morales March 04, 2018 7:58 PM  

"Sounds rather like the professor spent a few hours poking around here and Steve Keen's site and belatedly realized that he was volunteering for the sort of treatment one normally only experiences in prison washrooms when the guards aren't around."

You were gonna rape him? Ewww... to much information, dude.

Blogger Looking Glass March 04, 2018 8:00 PM  

@3 Dave

Hit back on rising costs for manufacturers when it comes up. Those big companies are hedged against hard variations in pricing, so it won't even effect their costs for a couple of years.

Blogger Hauen Holzwanderer March 04, 2018 8:09 PM  

I’d love to see a decent formal debate, the Vox v. Murphy one was a good start but just didn’t seem to go very far. Does anyone in the know think that maybe Tom Woods or Walter Block would debate Keen or Vox, or maybe make it a tag-team event?

Blogger CM March 04, 2018 8:09 PM  

If one wants to move away from the technical arguments, there's a lot of room to call Free Traders "pillagers" and the like.

I've wanted tok call them slavers on multiple occassions

Their arguments sound little better than the economic arguments in defense of slavery. Also, open borders advocates sound the same.

Blogger Dave March 04, 2018 8:15 PM  

@LG good point.

It directly hits at their standard refrain too; "waaah, prices will go up on cars, and appliances, and food, and everything"

Blogger pdwalker March 04, 2018 8:36 PM  

and belatedly realized that he was volunteering for the sort of treatment one normally only experiences in prison washrooms when the guards aren't around.

You see? It’s gems like this that shows you how beautiful and funny a language can be.

Contrast that with the obvious vulgarity that VD could have used. Which one would make you guffaw?

Blogger Daniel Paul Grech Pereira March 04, 2018 8:37 PM  

He bravely ran away.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan March 04, 2018 8:43 PM  

The Scalzi of economics

Blogger James Dixon March 04, 2018 8:50 PM  

> It directly hits at their standard refrain too; "waaah, prices will go up on cars, and appliances, and food, and everything"

Because absolutely everything is packed in steel and aluminum containers, right? They've never heard of plastic?

Blogger Looking Glass March 04, 2018 8:55 PM  

Mr.MantraMan wrote:The Scalzi of economics

That is brilliant & brutal.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother March 04, 2018 9:00 PM  

Even better, that nothing will change, and no one will ever increase supply, negotiate volume pricing, etc.

Blogger Emmanuel Mateo-Morales March 04, 2018 9:01 PM  

@10

The question is irrelevant because implied rape is almost as icky as the kind of explicit rape George Rape Rape Martin likes to get into and can't write without including.

Blogger seeingsights March 04, 2018 9:25 PM  

Actually my main ire against libertarians--and I used to be one--is their open borders view.

A consistent libertarian would have no problem with the current migrant invasion of Europe.

That I take as the reductio ad absurdum of the libertarian view of migration.

Even one of their saints, the classical liberal Milton Friedman, said, "You can have immigration, or you can have a welfare state, but you can't have both."

Thomas Sowell hasn't weighed in on the current immigration debate. But a good part of his work shows the differences between groups, ranging from per capita income, IQ, rates of crime, rates of education, specific aptitudes and talents, even attitude toward personal health! Sowell's work undermines an implicit premise of the libertarian open borderist: that people are fungible, that migrants will be basically like the host population.

Blogger Solaire Of Astora March 04, 2018 10:14 PM  

Sowell denies the connection between race and IQ. He fully subscribes to the notion that the Flynn Effect has demonstrated the difference doesn't really exist. He should be ignored on immigration if he is so emotionally invested in denying the truth for personal reasons.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd March 04, 2018 11:50 PM  

Solaire Of Astora wrote:Sowell denies the connection between race and IQ. He fully subscribes to the notion that the Flynn Effect has demonstrated the difference doesn't really exist.

What? What does the Flynn Effect have to do with race?

Blogger Dave March 05, 2018 12:06 AM  

POTUS let loose at the Gridiron Dinner: https://publicpool.kinja.com/subject-in-town-pool-report-7-gridiron-transcript-1823501761

They told me my remarks tonight should be something like a late night routine. ... Late nightare they the worst, by the way? Were finally going to get one thats going to come to our side. They will get very big ratings if they do that. ... With all the television talent here, I think ... youd have figured that out. But I have to tell you, in preparation, I did what any good late night comic would do these days. I called Chuck Schumer and I asked him for some talking points. Can you believe this? I also spoke to some of the funniest people around the White House starting with my number two, Mike Pence. ... Love you Mike. ... Some of you may think that Mike is not a comedian, but he is one of the best straight men youre ever going to meet. ... He is straight! ...

I saw him the other day. Were in line shaking hands with men and women. A woman came over to shake his hand and he said, Im sorry. I cant do that. My wife is not here. I never saw anything like it. Hes ... years ahead of his time. ... Mike is doing a fantastic job as our vice president. He really is. Hes doing a fantastic job. Could not have asked for better. I really am very proud to call him, The Apprentice.

But lately what bothers me, I have to tell you, hes showing a particularly keen interest in the news these days. He starts out each morning asking everybody, Has he been impeached yet? .... You cant be impeached when theres no crime!

But Attorney General Sessions is here with us tonight. ... I offered him a ride over and he recused himself. ... But thats OK. We also have some of the leading lights of the media here including some folks from the failing New York Times. That sucker is failing! ... I know we have our differences, but I also know that you have a very special place ... in my heart. ... The other day they had five stories on the front page of the New York Times and every one of them was totally different and each one of them was bad.

After all, you the New York Times are an icon. Im a New York icon, youre a New York icon, and the only difference is, I still own my buildings.

I especially have a place in my heart for Arthur Sulzberger. ... Our stories are almost mirror images. I inherited a million dollars from my fatherhad a great fathergave me a million dollars and I turned it into billions. True story. Arthur inherited billions of dollars and he turned his into millions. Hello Arthur.

Blogger Nate March 05, 2018 12:32 AM  

Years ago I argued on this blog against free trade because certain industries were just to vital to trust to other countries.

It is good to see you folks come around.

Blogger Jack Amok March 05, 2018 12:38 AM  

It is good to see you folks come around.

I used to be in favor of free trade because I thought governments were too corrupt to be trusted to manage trade barriers.

I didn't realize they would be even more corrupt managing free trade.

Well, live and learn.

Blogger weka March 05, 2018 1:09 AM  

Problem is that most people know they will lose. Besides Sir Robin is wrong. All imperial systems five preferred trade term to their subjects.

There have to be benefits that force the tradesmen to bend the knee.

Blogger Shimshon March 05, 2018 1:32 AM  

"The best they can do is offer up a lame "nations don't matter" protest that renders their precious free trade abhorrent to 99.9 percent of the population."

They really seem to believe that all that's lacking is effectively educating people, because once they taste the fine sweet Utopian elixir of liberty, they'll sperg just like them. Like a virus.

Having raised the issue privately and publicly with a number of like-minded individuals, their total investment in abstract ideals and lack of self-reflection is universal.

Blogger Looking Glass March 05, 2018 1:47 AM  

@20 Nate

I remember getting off the "Free Trade Train" in the early 2000s when I got into an argument with someone advocating that Anti-Dumping Rules shouldn't exist. Sadly, the defenses of Free Trade haven't improved since then.

@23 Shimshon

The rhetoric works when it's more "open trade" that compared, with bright lines, against the perception of the trade rules from the 70s & 80s. Now that we have actual, lived experience with "Free Trade", it's been anything but "Free" but we sure have traded off a lot of economic growth for a Globalist Utopia.

And these idiots still don't understand why Trump won.

Blogger SciVo March 05, 2018 2:23 AM  

Nate wrote:Years ago I argued on this blog against free trade because certain industries were just to vital to trust to other countries.

I have come to see over the years that the same is true of some professions. Tool & die making is just too critical to leave to immigrants -- arguably even 2nd- and 3rd-generation -- in case we get in a conventional war with a near peer.

Blogger Looking Glass March 05, 2018 2:30 AM  

@25 SciVo

"Free Trade: Trade away security & safety for empty promises".

Though at the basic level, it's short-term vs long-term Efficiency. Tactics vs Strategy. That's part of why the rhetoric behind Free Trade worked for a while. It drove down some of the prices on consumer goods, but it came at the cost of people being able to buy those goods.

Blogger wreckage March 05, 2018 2:48 AM  

The Libertarian argument against nations is faulty; it actually draws an arbitrary line in the sand and says "Once you cross this line, self-ownership and property rights no longer exist. POOF! Gone!"

There is no Libertarian reason, consistent with the Libertarian principles that are foundational and known to work, to argue for the end of nations.

In the case of immigration I'd go further: immigration *at all* is incompatible with the notion of voluntary transaction. Open borders is exactly and perfectly at odds with the notion of voluntary transaction. An immigrant makes an effectively unilateral decision to cross a border, and then does so, effectively acquiring rights to all commonly held property within that border (remember property rights?) at zero, or nominal, cost, and in all cases without a voluntary transaction on the part of the body corporate (nation) whose property he is acquiring.

Now, there are literally zero Libertarians that hold to this view, so in that sense it's not worth arguing. But it IS worth pointing out that one of their shibboleths is actually contrary to their own foundational ideals.

Blogger wreckage March 05, 2018 2:49 AM  

*ie, the Libertarian principles of, for example, property rights: not that all Libertarian principles are known to work, but that the above can be extrapolated from those that ARE known to work.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine March 05, 2018 5:10 AM  

"I've wanted tok call them slavers on multiple occassions

Their arguments sound little better than the economic arguments in defense of slavery."


Free trade actually incentivizes slavery in more than one way. It incentivizes both slave labor (in less regulated countries) and slave sales between countries in general. Can't punish under free trade.

And then there's the point that it effectively enslaves producers in more regulated countries to those in less regulated countries.

You should call them slavers, they're literally advocating for it on multiple grounds.

Blogger Looking Glass March 05, 2018 5:42 AM  

@29 Azure Amaranthine

"Free Trade", as practiced, actually worked to exploit slave and near-slave labor in foreign markets. It took money from the States and labor from the undeveloped world and put all of that value into the pockets of the Internationalist Class.

Blogger Harambe March 05, 2018 6:26 AM  

Libertarianism only works when everyone is a libertarian. Which makes it no different to any other -ism.

Blogger Subversive Saint March 05, 2018 6:46 AM  

It has always been my contention that Libertarianism can only exist in a society wholly Christian. Only an outside moral agent can constrain the inherent selfishness of the human heart which is necessary to allow humans to live in a polite society.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother March 05, 2018 8:28 AM  

I've always been where Nate is.

Look at Russia and their monopoly of European natural gas supply. That's a bit of a vulnerability!

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 05, 2018 9:01 AM  

There is no Libertarian reason, consistent with the Libertarian principles that are foundational and known to work, to argue for the end of nations.
There are no Libertarian pinciples that are foundational and known to work.

Blogger peppermint88 March 05, 2018 9:05 AM  

Trump has bought and assembled more steel than all of his critics combined.

Free trade and free movement of people is how Boomers loot. BLM steals toilet paper and drives people away from cities, Boomers destroy employment for cheap stuff now and bring in housing demand to increase their reverse mortgages.

Blogger Chris Mallory March 05, 2018 9:54 AM  

Reason was trumpeting the beer industry scare memo about how the new aluminum tariff was going to cost the industry X number of dollars and would end X number of jobs.

So I tried to figure out how much a can adds to the cost of a can of beer.

The day I looked it up recyclers were paying about .80 cents a pound on average. Raw aluminum was bringing .90 cents a pound on the commodities market with a 10 year high of just over $1.

Recycle one can and you will make 2.5 to 3 cents. Just to be generous to the anti tariff people, just because I was guessing. I figured a new can would cost the consumer 10 cents. The tariff is 10%. So it would add 1 cent to the cost of a new can of beer, 6 cents for a 6 pack and 24 cents on a case.
How many beer drinkers are going to change their buying habits over 24 cents a case or 6 cents a 6 pack?

Blogger Harambe March 05, 2018 10:03 AM  

Subversive Saint wrote:It has always been my contention that Libertarianism can only exist in a society wholly Christian. Only an outside moral agent can constrain the inherent selfishness of the human heart which is necessary to allow humans to live in a polite society.

It has always been my contention that a homogeneous Christian society can make any system work for the reason you stated, among others. It's the people, not the system, that determines the success or failure.

Blogger August March 05, 2018 10:11 AM  

I believe the failure to understand the labor mobility issue is because they are totally bought into the idea nation- no real understanding of the founding fathers having actual children that they were interested in protecting. But these guys were raised on defending an abstract idea, not a people.


And I think you have to have the epistemological humility to sit through a bunch of Steve Keen's videos to realize his math isn't the same sort of crap economists have been making up for years. Also, it takes a little while to realize you can buy into his model while not adopting his politics.

But I don't think they are self-aware enough to be afraid. There would be economists surreptitiously attempting to acquire the relevant math (and the software- I suppose Keen or his software maintainer might be able to tell from downloads).

Blogger RonG March 05, 2018 11:34 AM  

Dave
Canada does not import all of its steel. And of the steel we do import, we get seven times more from the US than from China.
http://trade.gov/steel/countries/pdfs/imports-Canada.pdf

Blogger Ahärôwn March 05, 2018 12:09 PM  

The irony of all of this, of course, is that those who advocate free trade do not suffer from its effects. They advocate for the destruction of other people's blue-collar, often unionized jobs, while they themselves benefit from their own tenured union jobs.

Perhaps we should demand free trade for everyone. After all, an H1B can work for much cheaper than the good professor can. If workers are fungible, than so are academics, or journalists, or actors, or government employees, or...

Blogger Dirk Manly March 06, 2018 3:41 AM  

....or newspaper economics columnists.

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