Pandering To Voters Who Flunked Econ 101
There’s a shadowy commercial airing regularly on the cable channels that attempt to demonstrate just how much Hillary Clinton has it in for American workers.
Let me stipulate I do think Clinton has it in for American workers, just not in the way the ad depicts.
In it, Clinton, then the junior senator from New York, is addressing a conference in New Dehli, India, describing the difficulties of legislating an end to outsourcing — that is, using overseas workers in ways that, arguably, cut Americans out of jobs.
“I don’t think you can, effectively, restrict outsourcing,” she says. “There is no way to legislate against reality. … That’s just a dead end.”
The moderator is delighted, indeed, to hear this. Presumably, you, the threatened American worker or job-seeker are supposed to be outraged. Certainly you, the likely target of this nefarious confession — or maybe it’s a concession — think there could be, and ought to be, a law.
Of course, that was the old Clinton, the one who thought the Trans-Pacific Partnership was “the gold standard” of international trade agreements. The new Hillary, well, she never stops proving what Barack Obama said during the 2008 primaries, of which the following is a rough paraphrase: Clinton will say anything to anybody, anywhere, at any time to win an election.
Now, Madame Gold Standard not only deplores that on which she not so long ago ladled praise, she has repudiated one of her husband’s economic triumphs: the creation of a hemispheric duty-free zone known as the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.
Because the economically illiterate Bernie Sanders and all his wildly ill-informed but energetic followers. And so, while being eerily quiet about outsourcing, she is campaigning on a plan to extract an “exit tax” — essentially a ransom — from U.S.-based companies morph their legal identities, a process National Review’s Kevin Williamson describes exquisitely.
“Sometimes businesses go so far as to relocate their headquarters in response to taxes and other burdens; one way of doing that is the dreaded ‘corporate inversion,’ in which a U.S. company uses a merger to relocate its legal domicile to some sweaty, exploitive, relatively low-tax Third World crap-hole … like Canada, the United Kingdom, or Ireland.”
The catch, Williamson properly notes, is while corporate ransoms might deter existing U.S. companies from moving offshore, the consequence — if nothing else changes — is future incorporations will occur outside our borders in the first place.
Anymore, we expect this kind of silliness from Democrats, who pander to voters who either slept through Econ 101, or never took it in the first place. But conservatives expect better from Republicans. If only there were one running for the White House this year.
On the subject of international trade and outsourcing, Clinton routinely bludgeons Donald Trump over products bearing his name that are manufactured outside the United States. There is a perfectly reasonable, easily understood response to this:
Yes, because his company has an interest in delivering the best possible product at the lowest possible price in pursuit of the largest possible portion of the market, the Trump line of menswear and accessories is, currently, manufactured overseas.
Inexpensive labor is part of the equation, but only a part, and it is outweighed by onerous taxes and regulations levied on companies by Washington. Reduce or eliminate those burdens and you would see a boom in domestic manufacturing.
I mean, this isn’t all that hard to figure out. Remember what Grandma said about honey, vinegar and flies. If you want action, you sweeten the recipe.
But Trump doesn’t appear to trust voters enough to make that argument. Instead, he complains about cheating, vows — like Clinton — to punish companies that move their factories, blusters about renegotiating treaties and threatens to impose tariffs — which, if you remember your Econ 101 (and you probably don’t, as noted above), only serve to support inefficient domestic producers while making the products we buy more expensive.
In short, what we have topping the major-party tickets is two candidates educated at exclusive universities residing in the top .01 percent pitching plans that sound good to — but in fact would crush the budgets of — the bottom 20 percent.
This is the worst election ever.