03/13/2018

Trump Is More Like Recent Presidents Than Anyone Wants To Admit

Nick Gillespie, Reason

The flipside of Trump Derangement Syndrome, whose strongest form argues that the president is an "extinction-level threat" to democracy itself, is Trump Exceptionalism Syndrome, which holds that Trump is the greatest leader since Winston Churchill, the biblical kings David and Cyrus, or whomever.

Recent events reveal something more mundane: Trump is all too much like the other recent inhabitants of the White House. We are neither living through the End Times nor at the start of New Dawn. Instead of entering some sort of political Singularity, we're still stuck in the Regularity. Trump is not a transformative character. Once we accept that, we can support the good things he does (supporting school choice, cutting corporate tax rates and regulations) while criticizing the bad (waving away due process, throwing in with white supremacists, and deporting immigrants, among other things).

Trump's decisions to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum clearly fall into the bad category. They are idioticindefensibleeconomically counterproductive, and...not so different than similar policies levied by both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Both of those guys pulled similar tricks on steel, after all. Bush did the same on Canadian timber, as Trump also did last year to much less fanfare than the current plan is getting. Hot and bothered that Trump isn't listening to his economic advisors? Back in 2009, Obama waved away concerns that slapping a 35 percent tariff on Chinese tires would hurt U.S. workers. His administration took credit for saving 1,200 domestic jobs, even though later analyses found that the tariffs cost domestic consumers an extra $1.1 billion and actually pink-slipped over 3,000 workers on net.

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In Search Of History

4,000 Years Of Price Control

Tablets, said to be 200 years older than the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi ... show that the ancient kingdom of Eshnunna had wage control and price control. The news ought not to have come as a surprise. For the code of Hammurabi itself (unearthed in 1902), which was promulgated earlier than 2000 B.C., fixed prices, wages, interest rates, and fees. This makes price control at least about 4,000 years old. ...

 

Ironically, it is those who now wish to return to this ancient totalitarian device who are fondest of calling themselves “progressives.” They are also fond of saying that those who believe in economic liberty “are living in the nineteenth century.” These controlists have yet to learn that they themselves are still living, as the discoveries in Babylonia attest, in the nineteenth century—B.C.!

-- Henry Hazlitt,

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