Monday, January 30, 2017

Whataboutism

Whataboutism is a term describing a propaganda technique used by the Soviet Union in its dealings with the Western world during the Cold War. When criticisms were levelled at the Soviet Union, the response would be "What about..." followed by the naming of an event in the Western world.

It represents a case of tu quoque or the appeal to hypocrisy, a logical fallacy which attempts to discredit the opponent's position by asserting the opponent's failure to act consistently in accordance with that position, without directly refuting or disproving the opponent's initial argument.

(via Wikipedia)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Myth and Truth About Libertarianism

By Murray N. Rothbard

This essay is based on a paper presented at the April 1979 national meeting of the Philadelphia Society in Chicago. The theme of the meeting was "Conservatism and Libertarianism."

 Libertarianism is the fastest growing political creed in America today. Before judging and evaluating libertarianism, it is vitally important to find out precisely what that doctrine is, and, more particularly, what it is not. It is especially important to clear up a number of misconceptions about libertarianism that are held by most people, and particularly by conservatives. In this essay I shall enumerate and critically analyze the most common myths that are held about libertarianism. When these are cleared away, people will then be able to discuss libertarianism free of egregious myths and misconceptions, and to deal with it as it should be on its very own merits or demerits.

Myth #1: Libertarians believe that each individual is an isolated, hermetically sealed atom, acting in a vacuum without influencing each other.

This is a common charge, but a highly puzzling one. In a lifetime of reading libertarian and classical-liberal literature, I have not come across a single theorist or writer who holds anything like this position.
The only possible exception is the fanatical Max Stirner, a mid-19th-century German individualist who, however, has had minimal influence upon libertarianism in his time and since. Moreover, Stirner's explicit "might makes right" philosophy and his repudiation of all moral principles including individual rights as "spooks in the head," scarcely qualifies him as a libertarian in any sense. Apart from Stirner, however, there is no body of opinion even remotely resembling this common indictment.
Libertarians are methodological and political individualists, to be sure. They believe that only individuals think, value, act, and choose. They believe that each individual has the right to own his own body, free of coercive interference. But no individualist denies that people are influencing each other all the time in their goals, values, pursuits, and occupations.
As F.A. Hayek pointed out in his notable article, "The Non Sequitur of the 'Dependence Effect,'" John Kenneth Galbraith's assault upon free-market economics in his best-selling The Affluent Society rested on this proposition: economics assumes that every individual arrives at his scale of values totally on his own, without being subject to influence by anyone else. On the contrary, as Hayek replied, everyone knows that most people do not originate their own values, but are influenced to adopt them by other people.1
No individualist or libertarian denies that people influence each other all the time, and surely there is nothing wrong with this inevitable process. What libertarians are opposed to is not voluntary persuasion, but the coercive imposition of values by the use of force and police power. Libertarians are in no way opposed to the voluntary cooperation and collaboration between individuals: only to the compulsory pseudo-"cooperation" imposed by the state.

Myth #2: Libertarians are libertines: they are hedonists who hanker after "alternative lifestyles."

This myth has recently been propounded by Irving Kristol, who identifies the libertarian ethic with the "hedonistic" and asserts that libertarians "worship the Sears Roebuck catalogue and all the 'alternative life styles' that capitalist affluence permits the individual to choose from."2
The fact is that libertarianism is not and does not pretend to be a complete moral or aesthetic theory; it is only a political theory, that is, the important subset of moral theory that deals with the proper role of violence in social life.
"What a person does with his or her life is vital and important, but is simply irrelevant to libertarianism."
Political theory deals with what is proper or improper for government to do, and government is distinguished from every other group in society as being the institution of organized violence. Libertarianism holds that the only proper role of violence is to defend person and property against violence, that any use of violence that goes beyond such just defense is itself aggressive, unjust, and criminal. Libertarianism, therefore, is a theory which states that everyone should be free of violent invasion, should be free to do as he sees fit, except invade the person or property of another. What a person does with his or her life is vital and important, but is simply irrelevant to libertarianism.
It should not be surprising, therefore, that there are libertarians who are indeed hedonists and devotees of alternative lifestyles, and that there are also libertarians who are firm adherents of "bourgeois" conventional or religious morality. There are libertarian libertines and there are libertarians who cleave firmly to the disciplines of natural or religious law. There are other libertarians who have no moral theory at all apart from the imperative of non-violation of rights. That is because libertarianism per se has no general or personal moral theory.
Libertarianism does not offer a way of life; it offers liberty, so that each person is free to adopt and act upon his own values and moral principles. Libertarians agree with Lord Acton that "liberty is the highest political end" — not necessarily the highest end on everyone's personal scale of values.
There is no question about the fact, however, that the subset of libertarians who are free-market economists tends to be delighted when the free market leads to a wider range of choices for consumers, and thereby raises their standard of living. Unquestionably, the idea that prosperity is better than grinding poverty is a moral proposition, and it ventures into the realm of general moral theory, but it is still not a proposition for which I should wish to apologize.

Myth #3: Libertarians do not believe in moral principles; they limit themselves to cost-benefit analysis on the assumption that man is always rational.

This myth is of course related to the preceding charge of hedonism, and some of it can be answered in the same way. There are indeed libertarians, particularly Chicago School economists, who refuse to believe that liberty and individual rights are moral principles, and instead attempt to arrive at public policy by weighing alleged social costs and benefits.
In the first place, most libertarians are "subjectivists" in economics, that is, they believe that the utilities and costs of different individuals cannot be added or measured. Hence, the very concept of social costs and benefits is illegitimate. But, more importantly, most libertarians rest their case on moral principles, on a belief in the natural rights of every individual to his person or property. They therefore believe in the absolute immorality of aggressive violence, of invasion of those rights to person or property, regardless of which person or group commits such violence.
Far from being immoral, libertarians simply apply a universal human ethic to government in the same way as almost everyone would apply such an ethic to every other person or institution in society. In particular, as I have noted earlier, libertarianism as a political philosophy dealing with the proper role of violence takes the universal ethic that most of us hold toward violence and applies it fearlessly to government.
"Libertarians make no exceptions to the golden rule and provide no moral loophole, no double standard, for government."
Libertarians make no exceptions to the golden rule and provide no moral loophole, no double standard, for government. That is, libertarians believe that murder is murder and does not become sanctified by reasons of state if committed by the government. We believe that theft is theft and does not become legitimated because organized robbers call their theft "taxation." We believe that enslavement is enslavement even if the institution committing that act calls it "conscription." In short, the key to libertarian theory is that it makes no exceptions in its universal ethic for government.
Hence, far from being indifferent or hostile to moral principles, libertarians fulfill them by being the only group willing to extend those principles across the board to government itself.3
It is true that libertarians would allow each individual to choose his values and to act upon them, and would in short accord every person the right to be either moral or immoral as he saw fit. Libertarianism is strongly opposed to enforcing any moral creed on any person or group by the use of violence — except, of course, the moral prohibition against aggressive violence itself. But we must realize that no action can be considered virtuous unless it is undertaken freely, by a person's voluntary consent.
As Frank Meyer pointed out,
Men cannot be forced to be free, nor can they even be forced to be virtuous. To a certain extent, it is true, they can be forced to act as though they were virtuous. But virtue is the fruit of well-used freedom. And no act to the degree that it is coerced can partake of virtue — or of vice.4
If a person is forced by violence or the threat thereof to perform a certain action, then it can no longer be a moral choice on his part. The morality of an action can stem only from its being freely adopted; an action can scarcely be called moral if someone is compelled to perform it at gunpoint.
Compelling moral actions or outlawing immoral actions, therefore, cannot be said to foster the spread of morality or virtue. On the contrary, coercion atrophies morality, for it takes away from the individual the freedom to be either moral or immoral, and therefore forcibly deprives people of the chance to be moral. Paradoxically, then, a compulsory morality robs us of the very opportunity to be moral.
It is furthermore particularly grotesque to place the guardianship of morality in the hands of the state apparatus — that is, none other than the organization of policemen, guards, and soldiers. Placing the state in charge of moral principles is equivalent to putting the proverbial fox in charge of the chicken coop.
Whatever else we may say about them, the wielders of organized violence in society have never been distinguished by their high moral tone or by the precision with which they uphold moral principle.

Myth #4: Libertarianism is atheistic and materialist, and neglects the spiritual side of life.

There is no necessary connection between being for or against libertarianism and one's position on religion. It is true that many if not most libertarians at the present time are atheists, but this correlates with the fact that most intellectuals, of most political persuasions, are atheists as well.
There are many libertarians who are theists, Jewish or Christian. Among the classical-liberal forebears of modern libertarianism in a more religious age there were a myriad of Christians: from John Lilburne, Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, and John Locke in the 17th century, down to Cobden and Bright, Frédéric Bastiat and the French laissez-faire liberals, and the great Lord Acton.
"Placing the state in charge of moral principles is equivalent to putting the proverbial fox in charge of the chicken coop."
Libertarians believe that liberty is a natural right embedded in a natural law of what is proper for mankind, in accordance with man's nature. Where this set of natural laws comes from, whether it is purely natural or originated by a creator, is an important ontological question but is irrelevant to social or political philosophy.
As Father Thomas Davitt declares,
If the word "natural" means anything at all, it refers to the nature of a man, and when used with "law," "natural" must refer to an ordering that is manifested in the inclinations of a man's nature and to nothing else. Hence, taken in itself, there is nothing religious or theological in the "Natural Law" of Aquinas.5
Or, as D'Entrèves writes of the 17th century Dutch Protestant jurist Hugo Grotius,
[Grotius's] definition of natural law has nothing revolutionary. When he maintains that natural law is that body of rule which Man is able to discover by the use of his reason, he does nothing but restate the Scholastic notion of a rational foundation of ethics. Indeed, his aim is rather to restore that notion which had been shaken by the extreme Augustinianism of certain Protestant currents of thought. When he declares that these rules are valid in themselves, independently of the fact that God willed them, he repeats an assertion which had already been made by some of the schoolmen.6
Libertarianism has been accused of ignoring man's spiritual nature. But one can easily arrive at libertarianism from a religious or Christian position: emphasizing the importance of the individual, of his freedom of will, of natural rights and private property. Yet one can also arrive at all these self-same positions by a secular, natural-law approach, through a belief that man can arrive at a rational apprehension of the natural law.
Historically, furthermore, it is not at all clear that religion is a firmer footing than secular natural law for libertarian conclusions. As Karl Wittfogel reminded us in his Oriental Despotism, the union of throne and altar has been used for centuries to fasten a reign of despotism on society.7
Historically, the union of church and state has been in many instances a mutually reinforcing coalition for tyranny. The state used the church to sanctify and preach obedience to its supposedly divinely sanctioned rule; the church used the state to gain income and privilege.
The Anabaptists collectivized and tyrannized Münster in the name of the Christian religion.8
And, closer to our century, Christian socialism and the social gospel have played a major role in the drive toward statism, and the apologetic role of the Orthodox Church in Soviet Russia has been all too clear. Some Catholic bishops in Latin America have even proclaimed that the only route to the kingdom of heaven is through Marxism, and if I wished to be nasty, I could point out that the Reverend Jim Jones, in addition to being a Leninist, also proclaimed himself the reincarnation of Jesus.
"An action can scarcely be called moral if someone is compelled to perform it at gunpoint."
Moreover, now that socialism has manifestly failed, politically and economically, socialists have fallen back on the "moral" and the "spiritual" as the final argument for their cause. Socialist Robert Heilbroner, in arguing that socialism will have to be coercive and will have to impose a "collective morality" upon the public, opines that: "Bourgeois culture is focused on the material achievement of the individual. Socialist culture must focus on his or her moral or spiritual achievement."
The intriguing point is that this position of Heilbroner's was hailed by the conservative religious writer for National Review, Dale Vree. He writes:
Heilbroner is … saying what many contributors to NR have said over the last quarter-century: you can't have both freedom and virtue. Take note, traditionalists. Despite his dissonant terminology, Heilbroner is interested in the same thing you're interested in: virtue.9
Vree is also fascinated with the Heilbroner view that a socialist culture must "foster the primacy of the collectivity" rather than the "primacy of the individual." He quotes Heilbroner's contrasting "moral or spiritual" achievement under socialism as against bourgeois "material" achievement, and adds correctly: "There is a traditional ring to that statement."
Vree goes on to applaud Heilbroner's attack on capitalism because it has "no sense of 'the good'" and permits "consenting adults" to do anything they please. In contrast to this picture of freedom and permitted diversity, Vree writes that "Heilbroner says alluringly, because a socialist society must have a sense of 'the good,' not everything will be permitted." To Vree, it is impossible "to have economic collectivism along with cultural individualism," and so he is inclined to lean toward a new "socialist-traditionalist fusionism" — toward collectivism across the board.
We may note here that socialism becomes especially despotic when it replaces "economic" or "material" incentives by allegedly "moral" or "spiritual" ones, when it affects to promoting an indefinable "quality of life" rather than economic prosperity.
When payment is adjusted to productivity there is considerably more freedom as well as higher standards of living. For when reliance is placed solely on altruistic devotion to the socialist motherland, the devotion has to be regularly reinforced by the knout. An increasing stress on individual material incentive means ineluctably a greater stress on private property and keeping what one earns, and brings with it considerably more personal freedom, as witness Yugoslavia in the last three decades in contrast to Soviet Russia.
The most horrifying despotism on the face of the earth in recent years was undoubtedly Pol Pot's Cambodia, in which "materialism" was so far obliterated that money was abolished by the regime. With money and private property abolished, each individual was totally dependent on handouts of rationed subsistence from the state, and life was a sheer hell. We should be careful before we sneer at "merely material" goals or incentives.
The charge of "materialism" directed against the free market ignores the fact that every human action whatsoever involves the transformation of material objects by the use of human energy and in accordance with ideas and purposes held by the actors. It is impermissible to separate the "mental" or "spiritual" from the "material."
All great works of art, great emanations of the human spirit, have had to employ material objects: whether they be canvasses, brushes and paint, paper and musical instruments, or building blocks and raw materials for churches. There is no real rift between the "spiritual" and the "material" and hence any despotism over and crippling of the material will cripple the spiritual as well.

Myth #5: Libertarians are utopians who believe that all people are good, and that therefore state control is not necessary.

Conservatives tend to add that since human nature is either partially or wholly evil, strong state regulation is therefore necessary for society.
This is a very common belief about libertarians, yet it is difficult to know the source of this misconception. Rousseau, the locus classicus of the idea that man is good but is corrupted by his institutions, was scarcely a libertarian. Apart from the romantic writings of a few anarcho-communists, whom I would not consider libertarians in any case, I know of no libertarian or classical-liberal writers who have held this view.
On the contrary, most libertarian writers hold that man is a mixture of good and evil and therefore that it is important for social institutions to encourage the good and discourage the bad. The state is the only social institution which is able to extract its income and wealth by coercion; all others must obtain revenue either by selling a product or service to customers or by receiving voluntary gifts. And the state is the only institution which can use the revenue from this organized theft to presume to control and regulate people's lives and property. Hence, the institution of the state establishes a socially legitimatized and sanctified channel for bad people to do bad things, to commit regularized theft and to wield dictatorial power.
Statism therefore encourages the bad, or at least the criminal elements of human nature. As Frank H. Knight trenchantly put it,
The probability of the people in power being individuals who would dislike the possession and exercise of power is on a level with the probability that an extremely tenderhearted person would get the job of whipping master in a slave plantation.10
A free society, by not establishing such a legitimated channel for theft and tyranny, discourages the criminal tendencies of human nature and encourages the peaceful and the voluntary. Liberty and the free market discourage aggression and compulsion, and encourage the harmony and mutual benefit of voluntary interpersonal exchanges, economic, social, and cultural.
Since a system of liberty would encourage the voluntary and discourage the criminal, and would remove the only legitimated channel for crime and aggression, we could expect that a free society would indeed suffer less from violent crime and aggression than we do now, though there is no warrant for assuming that they would disappear completely. That is not utopianism, but a common-sense implication of the change in what is considered socially legitimate, and in the reward-and-penalty structure in society.
We can approach our thesis from another angle. If all men were good and none had criminal tendencies, then there would indeed be no need for a state, as conservatives concede. But if on the other hand all men were evil, then the case for the state is just as shaky, since why should anyone assume that those men who form the government and obtain all the guns and the power to coerce others, should be magically exempt from the badness of all the other persons outside the government?
Tom Paine, a classical libertarian often considered to be naively optimistic about human nature, rebutted the conservative evil-human-nature argument for a strong state as follows: "If all human nature be corrupt, it is needless to strengthen the corruption by establishing a succession of kings, who be they ever so base, are still to be obeyed…" Paine added that "NO man since the fall hath ever been equal to the trust of being given power over all."11
And as the libertarian F.A. Harper once wrote:
Still using the same principle that political rulership should be employed to the extent of the evil in man, we would then have a society in which complete political rulership of all the affairs of everybody would be called for.… One man would rule all. But who would serve as the dictator? However he were to be selected and affixed to the political throne, he would surely be a totally evil person, since all men are evil. And this society would then be ruled by a totally evil dictator possessed of total political power. And how, in the name of logic, could anything short of total evil be its consequence? How could it be better than having no political rulership at all in that society?12
Finally, since, as we have seen, men are actually a mixture of good and evil, a regime of liberty serves to encourage the good and discourage the bad, at least in the sense that the voluntary and mutually beneficial are good and the criminal is bad. In no theory of human nature, then, whether it be goodness, badness, or a mixture of the two, can statism be justified.
In the course of denying the notion that he is a conservative, the classical liberal F.A. Hayek pointed out,
The main merit of individualism [which Adam Smith and his contemporaries advocated] is that it is a system under which bad men can do least harm. It is a social system which does not depend for its functioning on our finding good men for running it, or on all men becoming better than they now are, but which makes use of men in all their given variety and complexity.13
It is important to note what differentiates libertarians from utopians in the pejorative sense. Libertarianism does not set out to remold human nature. One of socialism's major goals is to create, which in practice means by totalitarian methods, a New Socialist Man, an individual whose major goal will be to work diligently and altruistically for the collective.
Libertarianism is a political philosophy which says, Given any existent human nature, liberty is the only moral and the most effective political system.
Obviously, libertarianism — as well as any other social system — will work better the more individuals are peaceful and the less they are criminal or aggressive. And libertarians, along with most other people, would like to attain a world where more individuals are "good" and fewer are criminals. But this is not the doctrine of libertarianism per se, which says that whatever the mix of man's nature may be at any given time, liberty is best.

Myth #6: Libertarians believe that every person knows his own interests best.

Just as the preceding charge holds that libertarians believe all men to be perfectly good, so this myth charges them with believing that everyone is perfectly wise. Yet, it is then maintained, this is not true of many people, and therefore the state must intervene.
But the libertarian no more assumes perfect wisdom than he postulates perfect goodness. There is a certain common sense in holding that most men are better apprised of their own needs and goals than is anyone else. But there is no assumption that everyone always knows his own interest best. Libertarianism rather asserts that everyone should have the right to pursue his own interest as he deems best. What is being asserted is the right to act with one's own person and property, and not the necessary wisdom of such action.
It is also true, however, that the free market — in contrast to government — has built-in mechanisms to enable people to turn freely to experts who can give sound advice on how to pursue one's interests best. As we have seen earlier, free individuals are not hermetically sealed from one another. For on the free market, any individual, if in doubt about what his own true interests may be, is free to hire or consult experts to give him advice based on their possibly superior knowledge. The individual may hire such experts and, on the free market, can continuously test their soundness and helpfulness.
Individuals on the market, therefore, tend to patronize those experts whose advice will prove most successful. Good doctors, lawyers, or architects will reap rewards on the free market, while poor ones will tend to fare badly. But when government intervenes, the government expert acquires his revenue by compulsory levy upon the taxpayers. There is no market test of his success in advising people of their own true interests. He only need have ability in acquiring the political support of the state's machinery of coercion.
Thus, the privately hired expert will tend to flourish in proportion to his ability, whereas the government expert will flourish in proportion to his success in currying political favor. Moreover, the government expert will be no more virtuous than the private one; his only superiority will be in gaining the favor of those who wield political force. But a crucial difference between the two is that the privately hired expert has every pecuniary incentive to care about his clients or patients, and to do his best by them. But the government expert has no such incentive; he obtains his revenue in any case. Hence, the individual consumer will tend to fare better on the free market.

Conclusion

I hope that this essay has contributed to clearing away the rubble of myth and misconception about libertarianism. Conservatives and everyone else should politely be put on notice that libertarians do not believe that everyone is good, nor that everyone is an all-wise expert on his own interest, nor that every individual is an isolated and hermetically sealed atom. Libertarians are not necessarily libertines or hedonists, nor are they necessarily atheists; and libertarians emphatically do believe in moral principles.
Let each of us now proceed to an examination of libertarianism as it really is, unencumbered by myth or legend. Let us look at liberty plain, without fear or favor. I am confident that, were this to be done, libertarianism would enjoy an impressive rise in the number of its followers.

  • 1.John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1958); F.A. Hayek, "The Non-Sequitur of the 'Dependence Effect,'" Southern Economic Journal (April, 1961), pp. 346–48.
  • 2.Irving Kristol, "No Cheers for the Profit Motive," Wall Street Journal (Feb. 21, 1979).
  • 3.For a call for applying universal ethical standards to government, see Pitirim A. Sorokin and Walter A. Lunden, Power and Morality: Who Shall Guard the Guardians? (Boston: Porter Sargent, 1959), pp. 16–30.
  • 4.Frank S. Meyer, In Defense of Freedom: A Conservative Credo (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1962), p. 66.
  • 5.Thomas E. Davitt, S.J., "St. Thomas Aquinas and the Natural Law," in Arthur L. Harding, ed., Origins of the Natural Law Tradition (Dallas, Tex.: Southern Methodist University Press, 1954), p. 39.
  • 6.A.P. d'Entrèves, Natural Law (London: Hutchinson University Library, 1951). pp. 51–52.
  • 7.Karl Wittfogel, Oriental Despotism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957), esp. pp. 87–100.
  • 8.On this and other totalitarian Christian sects, see Norman Cohn, Pursuit of the Millennium (Fairlawn, N.J.: Essential Books, 1957).
  • 9.Dale Vree, "Against Socialist Fusionism," National Review (December 8, 1978), p. 1547. Heilbroner's article was in Dissent, Summer 1978. For more on the Vree article, see Murray N. Rothbard, "Statism, Left, Right, and Center," Libertarian Review (January 1979), pp. 14–15.
  • 10.Journal of Political Economy (December 1938), p. 869. Quoted in Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944), p. 152.
  • 11."The Forester's Letters, III" (orig. in Pennsylvania Journal, Apr. 24, 1776), in The Writings of Thomas Paine (ed. M. D. Conway, New York: G. E Putnam's Sons, 1906), I, 149–150.
  • 12.F.A. Harper, "Try This On Your Friends," Faith and Freedom(January, 1955). p. 19.
  • 13.F.A. Hayek, Individualism and Economic Order (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), reemphasized in the course of his "Why I am Not a Conservative," The Constitution of Liberty (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960), p. 529.
The above originally appeared at Mises.org.

Humphrey-Hawkins Hearings

The Monetary Policy Report to the Congress is a semi-annual report prepared by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and presented to the Congress of the United States. The Chairman of the Board of Governors is called on to offer oral testimony about the report to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Financial Services to the House of Representatives.

Monetary Policy Reports are mandated by the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act of 1978, which required the Federal Reserve to formally report on its activities to Congress. The Monetary Policy Reports are referred to as the Humphrey-Hawkins reports.

The Monetary Policy Report is delivered twice a year, in February and July, and reports the basic state of the United States economy and its financial welfare. Each report contains two sections. The first section summarizes past policy decisions and their predicted economic impact. The second section focuses on recent financial and economic developments.

(via Wikipedia)


Friday, January 27, 2017

Hanlon's Razor

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Protectionism and the Destruction of Prosperity

By Murray N. Rothbard

The below monograph was first published by the Mises Institute, 1986

Potectionism, often refuted and seemingly
abandoned, has returned, and with a
vengeance. The Japanese, who bounced
back from grievous losses in World War II to
astound the world by producing innovative, high quality
products at low prices, are serving as the
convenient butt of protectionist propaganda.

Memories of wartime myths prove a heady brew,
as protectionists warn about this new “Japanese
imperialism,” even “worse than Pearl Harbor.”
This “imperialism” turns out to consist of selling
Americans wonderful TV sets, autos, microchips,
etc., at prices more than competitive with
American firms.

Is this “flood” of Japanese products really a
menace, to be combated by the U.S. government?
Or is the new Japan a godsend to American consumers?

In taking our stand on this issue, we should
recognize that all government action means coercion,
so that calling upon the U.S. government to
intervene means urging it to use force and violence
to restrain peaceful trade. One trusts that the
protectionists are not willing to pursue their logic
of force to the ultimate in the form of another
Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Keep Your Eye on the Consumer

As we unravel the tangled web of protectionist argument,
we should keep our eye on two essential
points: (1) protectionism means force in restraint of
trade; and (2) the key is what happens to the consumer.

Invariably, we will find that the protectionists
are out to cripple, exploit, and impose severe
losses not only on foreign consumers but especially
on Americans. And since each and every one of us is
a consumer, this means that protectionism is out to
mulct all of us for the benefit of a specially privileged,
subsidized few—and an inefficient few at
that: people who cannot make it in a free and
unhampered market.

Take, for example, the alleged Japanese
menace. All trade is mutually beneficial to
both parties—in this case Japanese producers and
American consumers—otherwise they would not
engage in the exchange. In trying to stop this
trade, protectionists are trying to stop American
consumers from enjoying high living standards
by buying cheap and high-quality Japanese products.

Instead, we are to be forced by government
to return to the inefficient, higher-priced products
we have already rejected. In short, inefficient producers
are trying to deprive all of us of products
we desire so that we will have to turn to inefficient
firms. American consumers are to be plundered.

How To Look at Tariffs and Quotas

The best way to look at tariffs or import quotas
or other protectionist restraints is to forget
about political boundaries. Political boundaries of
nations may be important for other reasons, but
they have no economic meaning whatever.

Suppose, for example, that each of the United
States were a separate nation. Then we would
hear a lot of protectionist bellyaching that we are
now fortunately spared. Think of the howls by
high-priced New York or Rhode Island textile
manufacturers who would then be complaining
about the “unfair,” “cheap labor” competition
from various low-type “foreigners” from
Tennessee or North Carolina, or vice versa.

Fortunately, the absurdity of worrying about
the balance of payments is made evident by focusing
on inter-state trade. For nobody worries about
the balance of payments between New York and
New Jersey, or, for that matter, between
Manhattan and Brooklyn, because there are no
customs officials recording such trade and such
balances.

If we think about it, it is clear that a call by
New York firms for a tariff against North Carolina
is a pure ripoff of New York (as well as North
Carolina) consumers, a naked grab for coerced
special privilege by less efficient business firms. If
the 50 states were separate nations, the protectionists
would then be able to use the trappings of
patriotism, and distrust of foreigners, to camouflage
and get away with their looting the consumers
of their own region.

Fortunately, inter-state tariffs are unconstitutional.

But even with this clear barrier, and even
without being able to wrap themselves in the
cloak of nationalism, protectionists have been able
to impose inter-state tariffs in another guise. Part
of the drive for continuing increases in the federal
minimum-wage law is to impose a protectionist
devise against lower-wage, lower-labor-cost competition
from North Carolina and other southern
states against their New England and New York
competitors.

During the 1966 Congressional battle over a
higher federal minimum wage, for example, the
late Senator Jacob Javits (R-NY) freely admitted
that one of his main reasons for supporting the
bill was to cripple the southern competitors of
New York textile firms. Since southern wages are
generally lower than in the north, the business
firms hardest hit by an increased minimum wage
(and the workers struck by unemployment) will
be located in the south.

Another way in which interstate trade restrictions
have been imposed has been in the fashionable
name of “safety.” Government-organized
state milk cartels in New York, for example, have
prevented importation of milk from nearby New
Jersey under the patently spurious grounds that
the trip across the Hudson would render New
Jersey milk “unsafe.”

If tariffs and restraints on trade are good for a
country, then why not indeed for a state or region?
The principle is precisely the same. In America s
first great depression, the Panic of 1819, Detroit
was a tiny frontier town of only a few hundred
people. Yet protectionist cries arose—fortunately
not fulfilled—to prohibit all “imports” from outside
of Detroit, and citizens were exhorted to buy
only Detroit. If this nonsense had been put into
effect, general starvation and death would have
ended all other economic problems for Detroiters.

So why not restrict and even prohibit trade,
i.e., “imports,” into a city, or a neighborhood, or
even on a block, or, to boil it down to its logical
conclusion, to one family? Why shouldn’t the
Jones family issue a decree that from now on, no
member of the family can buy any goods or services
produced outside the family house?

Starvation would quickly wipe out this ludicrous
drive for self-sufficiency.

And yet we must realize that this absurdity is
inherent in the logic of protectionism. Standard
protectionism is just as preposterous, but the rhetoric
of nationalism and national boundaries has
been able to obscure this vital fact.The upshot is
that protectionism is not only nonsense, but dangerous
nonsense, destructive of all economic prosperity.

We are not, if we were ever, a world of self-sufficient
farmers. The market economy is one
vast latticework throughout the world, in which
each individual, each region, each country, produces
what he or it is best at, most relatively efficient
in, and exchanges that product for the goods
and services of others. Without the division of
labor and the trade based upon that division, the
entire world would starve. Coerced restraints on
trade—such as protectionism—cripple, hobble,
and destroy trade, the source of life and prosperity.

Protectionism is simply a plea that consumers,
as well as general prosperity, be hurt so as to confer
permanent special privilege upon groups of
less efficient producers, at the expense of more
competent firms and of consumers. But it is a
peculiarly destructive kind of bailout, because it
permanently shackles trade under the cloak of
patriotism.

The Negative Railroad

Protectionism is also peculiarly destructive
because it acts as a coerced and artificial increase
in the cost of transportation between regions. One
of the great features of the Industrial Revolution,
one of the ways in which it brought prosperity to
the starving masses, was by reducing drastically
the cost of transportation. The development of
railroads in the early 19th century, for example,
meant that for the first time in the history of the
human race, goods could be transported cheaply
over land. Before that, water—rivers and
oceans—was the only economically viable means
of transport. By making land transport accessible
and cheap, railroads allowed interregional land
transportation to break up expensive inefficient
local monopolies. The result was an enormous
improvement in living standards for all consumers.

And what the protectionists want to do is
lay an axe to this wondrous principle of progress.
It is no wonder that Frederic Bastiat, the great
French laissez-faire economist of the mid-19th
century, called a tariff a “negative railroad.”

Protectionists are just as economically destructive
as if they were physically chopping up railroads,
or planes, or ships, and forcing us to revert to the
costly transport of the past—mountain trails,
rafts, or sailing ships.

“Fair” Trade

Let us now turn to some of the leading protectionist
arguments. Take, for example, the standard
complaint that while the protectionist “welcomes
competition,” this competition must be “fair.”

Whenever someone starts talking about “fair
competition” or indeed, about “fairness” in general,
it is time to keep a sharp eye on your wallet, for
it is about to be picked. For the genuinely “fair” is
simply the voluntary terms of exchange, mutually
agreed upon by buyer and seller. As most of the
medieval scholastics were able to figure out, there
is no “just” (or “fair”) price outside of the market
price.

So what could be “unfair” about the free-market
price? One common protectionist charge is
that it is “unfair” for an American firm to compete
with, say, a Taiwanese firm which needs to pay
only one-half the wages of the American competitor.

The U.S. government is called upon to step in
and “equalize” the wage rates by imposing an
equivalent tariff upon the Taiwanese. But does
this mean that consumers can never patronize
low-cost firms because it is “unfair” for them to
have lower costs than inefficient competitors?
This is the same argument that would be used by
a New York firm trying to cripple its North
Carolina competitor.

What the protectionists don t bother to explain
is why U.S. wage rates are so much higher than
Taiwan. They are not imposed by Providence.

Wage rates are high in the U.S. because American
employers have bid these rates up. Like all other
prices on the market, wage rates are determined
by supply and demand, and the increased
demand by U.S. employers has bid wages up.
What determines this demand? The “marginal
productivity” of labor.

The demand for any factor of production,
including labor, is constituted by the productivity
of that factor, the amount of revenue that the
worker, or the pound of cement or acre of land, is
expected to bring to the brim. The more productive
the factory, the greater the demand by
employers, and the higher its price or wage rate.

American labor is more costly than Taiwanese
because it is far more productive. What makes it
productive? To some extent, the comparative
qualities of labor, skill, and education. But most of
the difference is not due to the personal qualities
of the laborers themselves, but to the fact that the
American laborer, on the whole, is equipped with
more and better capital equipment than his
Taiwanese counterparts. The more and better the
capital investment per worker, the greater the
worker's productivity, and therefore the higher
the wage rate.

In short, if the American wage rate is twice
that of the Taiwanese, it is because the American
laborer is more heavily capitalized, is equipped
with more and better tools, and is therefore, on
the average, twice as productive. In a sense, I suppose,
it is not “fair” for the American worker to
make more than the Taiwanese, not because of his
personal qualities, but because savers and
investors have supplied him with more tools. But
a wage rate is determined not just by personal
quality but also by relative scarcity, and in the
United States the worker is far scarcer compared
to capital than he is in Taiwan.

Putting it another way, the fact that American
wage rates are on the average twice that of the
Taiwanese, does not make the cost of labor in the
U.S. twice that of Taiwan. Since U.S. labor is twice
as productive, this means that the double wage
rate in the U.S. is offset by the double productivity,
so that the cost of labor per unit product in the
U.S. and Taiwan tends, on the average, to be the
same. One of the major protectionist fallacies is to
confuse the price of labor (wage rates) with its cost,
which also depends on its relative productivity.

Thus, the problem faced by American employers
is not really with the “cheap labor” in Taiwan,
because “expensive labor” in the U.S. is precisely
the result of the bidding for scarce labor by U.S.
employers. The problem faced by less efficient
U.S. textile or auto firms is not so much cheap
labor in Taiwan or Japan, but the fact that other
U.S. industries are efficient enough to afford it,
because they bid wages that high in the first place.

So, by imposing protective tariffs and quotas
to save, bail out, and keep in place less efficient
U.S. textile or auto or microchip firms, the protectionists
are not only injuring the American consumer.

They are also harming efficient U.S. firms
and industries, which are prevented from
employing resources now locked into incompetent
firms, and who could otherwise be able to
expand and sell their efficient products at home
and abroad.

“Dumping”

Another contradictory line of protectionist
assault on the free market asserts that the problem
is not so much the low costs enjoyed by foreign
firms, as the “unfairness” of selling their products
“below costs” to American consumers, and thereby
engaging in the pernicious and sinful practice
of “dumping.” By such dumping they are able to
exert unfair advantage over American firms who
presumably never engage in such practices and
make sure that their prices are always high
enough to cover costs. But if selling below costs is
such a powerful weapon, why isn’t it ever pursued
by business firms within a country?

Our first response to this charge is, once again,
to keep our eye on consumers in general and on
American consumers in particular. Why should it
be a matter of complaint when consumers so
clearly benefit? Suppose, for example, that Sony is
willing to injure American competitors by selling
TV sets to Americans for a penny apiece.

Shouldn’t we rejoice at such an absurd policy of
suffering severe losses by subsidizing us, the
American consumers? And shouldn’t our
response be: “Come on, Sony, subsidize us some
more!” As far as consumers are concerned, the
more “dumping” that takes place, the better.

But what of the poor American TV firms,
whose sales will suffer so long as Sony is willing
to virtually give their sets away? Well, surely, the
sensible policy for RCA, Zenith, etc. would be to
hold back production and sales until Sony drives
itself into bankruptcy. But suppose that the worst
happens, and RCA, Zenith, etc. are themselves
driven into bankruptcy by the Sony price war?

Well, in that case, we the consumers will still be
better off, since the plants of the bankrupt firms,
which would still be in existence, would be
picked up for a song at auction, and the American
buyers at auction would be able to enter the TV
business and outcompete Sony because they now
enjoy far lower capital costs.

For decades, indeed, opponents of the free
market have claimed that many businesses gained
their powerful status on the market by what is
called “predatory price-cutting,” that is, by driving
their smaller competitors into bankruptcy by
selling their goods below cost, and then reaping
the reward of their unfair methods by raising their
prices and thereby charging “monopoly prices” to
the consumers. The claim is that while consumers
may gain in the short run by price wars, “dumping,”
and selling below costs, they lose in the long
run from the alleged monopoly. But, as we have
seen, economic theory shows that this would be a
mug's game, losing money for the “dumping”
firms, and never really achieving a monopoly
price.

And sure enough, historical investigation has
not turned up a single case where predatory pricing,
when tried, was successful, and there are actually
very few cases where it has even been tried.

Another charge claims that Japanese or other
foreign firms can afford to engage in dumping
because their governments are willing to subsidize
their losses. But again, we should still welcome
such an absurd policy. If the Japanese government
is really willing to waste scarce resources
subsidizing American purchases of Sony s, so
much the better! Their policy would be just as
self-defeating as if the losses were private.

There is yet another problem with the charge
of “dumping,” even when it is made by economists
or other alleged “experts” sitting on impartial
tariff commissions and government bureaus.

There is no way whatever that outside observers,
be they economists, businessmen, or other
experts, can decide what some other firm s “costs”
may be. “Costs” are not objective entities that can
be gauged or measured. Costs are subjective to
the businessman himself, and they vary continually,
depending on the businessman's time horizon
or the stage of production or selling process
he happens to be dealing with at any given time.

Suppose, for example, a fruit dealer has purchased
a case of pears for $20, amounting to $1 a
pound. He hopes and expects to sell those pears
for $1.50 a pound. But something has happened to
the pear market, and he finds it impossible to sell
most of the pears at anything near that price. In
fact, he finds that he must sell the pears at whatever
price he can get before they become overripe.

Suppose he finds that he can only sell his stock of
pears at 70 cents a pound. The outside observer
might say that the fruit dealer has, perhaps
“unfairly,” sold his pears “below costs,” figuring
that the dealer s costs were $1 a pound.

“Infant” Industries

Another protectionist fallacy held that the
government should provide a temporary protective
tariff to aid, or to bring into being, an “infant
industry.” Then, when the industry was well established,
the government would and should
remove the tariff and toss the now “mature”
industry into the competitive swim.

The theory is fallacious, and the policy has
proved disastrous in practice. For there is no more
need for government to protect a new, young,
industry from foreign competition than there is to
protect it from domestic competition.

In the last few decades, the “infant” plastics,
television, and computer industries made out
very well without such protection. Any government
subsidizing of a new industry will funnel
too many resources into that industry as compared
to older firms, and will also inaugurate distortions
that may persist and render the firm or
industry permanently inefficient and vulnerable
to competition. As a result, “infant-industry” tariffs
have tended to become permanent, regardless
of the “maturity” of the industry. The proponents
were carried away by a misleading biological
analogy to “infants” who need adult care. But a
business firm is not a person, young or old.

Older Industries

Indeed, in recent years, older industries that
are notoriously inefficient have been using what
might be called a “senile-industry” argument for
protectionism. Steel, auto, and other outcompeted
industries have been complaining that they “need
a breathing space” to retool and become competitive
with foreign rivals, and that this breather
could be provided by several years of tariffs or
import quotas.

This argument is just as full of holes as the hoary
infant-industry approach,
except that it will be even more difficult to figure
out when the “senile” industry will have become
magically rejuvenated. In fact, the steel industry
has been inefficient ever since its inception, and its
chronological age seems to make no difference.

The first protectionist movement in the U.S. was
launched in 1820, headed by the Pennsylvania iron
(later iron and steel) industry, artificially force-fed
by the War of 1812 and already in grave danger
from far more efficient foreign competitors.

The Non-Problem of the Balance of Payments

A final set of arguments, or rather alarms, center
on the mysteries of the balance of payments.

Protectionists focus on the horrors of imports
being greater than exports, implying that if market
forces continued unchecked, Americans might
wind up buying everything from abroad, while
selling foreigners nothing, so that American consumers
will have engorged themselves to the permanent
ruin of American business firms. But if
the exports really fell to somewhere near zero,
where in the world would Americans still find the
money to purchase foreign products? The balance
of payments, as we said earlier, is a pseudo-problem
created by the existence of customs statistics.

During the day of the gold standard, a deficit
in the national balance of payments was a problem,
but only because of the nature of the fractional-reserve
banking system. If U.S. banks, spurred
on by the Fed or previous forms of central banks,
inflated money and credit, the American inflation
would lead to higher prices in the U.S., and this
would discourage exports and encourage
imports. The resulting deficit had to be paid for in
some way, and during the gold standard era this
meant being paid for in gold, the international
money. So as bank credit expanded, gold began to
flow out of the country, which put the fractionalreserve
banks in even shakier shape. To meet the
threat to their solvency posed by the gold outflow,
the banks eventually were forced to contract credit,
precipitating a recession and reversing the balance
of payment deficits, thus bringing gold back
into the country.

But now, in the fiat-money era, balance of payments
deficits are truly meaningless. For gold is
no longer a “balancing item.” In effect, there is no
deficit in the balance of payments. It is true that in
the last few years, imports have been greater than
exports by $150 billion or so per year. But no gold
flowed out of the country. Neither did dollars
“leak” out. The alleged “deficit” was paid for by
foreigners investing the equivalent amount of
money in American dollars: in real estate, capital
goods, U.S. securities, and bank accounts.

In effect, in the last couple of years, foreigners
have been investing enough of their own funds in
dollars to keep the dollar high, enabling us to purchase
cheap imports. Instead of worrying and
complaining about this development, we should
rejoice that foreign investors are willing to finance
our cheap imports. The only problem is that this
bonanza is already coming to an end, with the dollar
becoming cheaper and exports more expensive.

We conclude that the sheaf of protectionist
arguments, many plausible at first glance, are
really a tissue of egregious fallacies. They betray a
complete ignorance of the most basic economic
analysis. Indeed, some of the arguments are
almost embarrassing replicas of the most ridiculous
claims of 17th-century mercantilism: for
example, that it is somehow a calamitous problem
that the U.S. has a balance of trade deficit, not
overall, but merely with one specific country, e.g.,
Japan.

Must we even relearn the rebuttals of the more
sophisticated mercantilists of the 18th century:
namely, that balances with individual countries
will cancel each other out, and therefore that we
should only concern ourselves with the overall
balance? (Let alone realize that the overall balance
is no problem either.) But we need not reread the
economic literature to realize that the impetus for
protectionism comes not from preposterous theories,
but from the quest for coerced special privilege
and restraint of trade at the expense of efficient
competitors and consumers. In the host of
special interests using the political process to
repress and loot the rest of us, the protectionists
are among the most venerable. It is high time that
we get them, once and for all, off our backs, and
treat them with the righteous indignation they so
richly deserve

Invisible Hand

The term “invisible hand” is a metaphor for how, in a free market economy, self-interested individuals operate through a system of mutual interdependence to promote the general benefit of society at large. It was introduced by Scottish enlightenment thinker Adam Smith in his book “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” (1776).



 (via Investopedia)

Friday, January 20, 2017

Donald Trump Presidential Inauguration Speech Transcript, Full Text

The following is the full transcript/text of President Trump's inaugural speech:

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: thank you.

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.

Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.

We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.

Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

For too long, a small group in our nation's Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.

Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth.

Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.

Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation's Capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.
It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America.

This is your day. This is your celebration.

And this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.
The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Everyone is listening to you now.

You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.

At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.
Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves.

These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public.

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We are one nation – and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.

The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

For many decades, we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry;
Subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military;
We've defended other nation's borders while refusing to defend our own;
And spent trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.
We've made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.

The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.

But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future.

We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power.

From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.

From this moment on, it's going to be America First.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

I will fight for you with every breath in my body – and I will never, ever let you down.

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.

We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.

We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.

We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.

When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

The Bible tells us, "how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity."

We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.
When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.

There should be no fear – we are protected, and we will always be protected.

We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger.

In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.

We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action – constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.

The time for empty talk is over.

Now arrives the hour of action.

Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.

We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.

A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.

It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.

So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:

You will never be ignored again.

Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams, will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together, We Will Make America Strong Again.

We Will Make America Wealthy Again.

We Will Make America Proud Again.

We Will Make America Safe Again.

And, Yes, Together, We Will Make America Great Again. Thank you, God Bless You, And God Bless America.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017

Wenzel's TaxCut Law

Never trust any tax "reform." Taxes should be cut from the current structure without focus on changing the structure. Restructuring is a scam,

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Full List of Macy's Stores Closing in 2017

Final clearance sales at Macy’s stores closing in early 2017 will begin on Monday, January 9, and run for approximately eight to 12 weeks.

Here's a list of the closures:

Greenwood, Bowling Green, KY (124,000 square feet; opened in 1980; 63 associates);

Carolina Place, Pineville, NC (151,000 square feet; opened in 1993; 69 associates)

Douglaston, Douglaston, NY (158,000 square feet; opened in 1981; 144 associates)

Downtown Portland, Portland, OR (246,000 square feet; opened in 2007; 85 associates)

*Lancaster Mall, Salem, OR (67,000 square feet; opened in 1980; 53 associates)

Oakwood Mall, Eau Claire, WI (104,000 square feet; opened in 1991; 55 associates)

Mission Valley Apparel, San Diego, CA (385,000 square feet; opened in 1961; 140 associates)

Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara, CA (141,000 square feet; opened in 1990; 77 associates)

Lakeland Square, Lakeland, FL (101,000 square feet; opened in 1995; 68 associates)

Oviedo Marketplace, Oviedo, FL (195,000 square feet; opened in 2000; 83 associates)

Sarasota Square, Sarasota, FL (143,000 square feet; opened in 1977; 86 associates)

University Square, Tampa, FL (140,000 square feet; opened in 1974; 73 associates);

CityPlace, West Palm Beach, FL (108,000 square feet; opened in 2000; 72 associates)

Georgia Square, Athens, GA (121,000 square feet; opened in 1981; 69 associates)

Nampa Gateway Center, Nampa, ID (104,000, square feet; opened in 2009; 57 associates)
Alton Square, Alton, IL (180,000 square feet; opened in 1978; 54 associates)

Stratford Square, Bloomingdale, IL (149,000 square feet; opened in 1981; 87 associates)

Eastland, Bloomington, IL (154,000 square feet; opened in 1999; 55 associates)

Jefferson, Louisville, KY (157,000 square feet; opened in 1979; 52 associates)

Esplanade, Kenner, LA (188,000 square feet; opened in 2008; 101 associates)

Bangor, Bangor, ME (143,000 square feet; opened in 1998; 65 associates)

Westgate, Brockton, MA (144,000 square feet; opened in 2003; 79 associates)

Silver City Galleria, Taunton, MA (152,000 square feet; opened in 1992; 82 associates)

Lakeview Square Mall, Battle Creek, MI (102,000 square feet: opened 1983; 51 associates)

Eastland Center, Harper Woods, MI (433,000 square feet; opened in 1957; 121 associates)

Lansing, Lansing, MI (103,000 square feet; opened in 1979; 57 associates)

Westland, Westland, MI (334,000 square feet; opened in 1965; 106 associates)

Minneapolis Downtown, Minneapolis, MN (1,276,000 square feet; opened in 1902; 280 associates)

Northgate, Durham, NC (187,000 square feet; opened in 1994; 72 associates);

Columbia, Grand Forks, ND (99,000 square feet; opened in 1978; 53 associates)

Moorestown, Moorestown, NJ (200,000 square feet; opened in 1999; 107 associates)

Voorhees Town Center, Voorhees, NJ (224,000 square feet; opened in 1970; 77 associates)

Preakness, Wayne, NJ (81,000 square feet; opened in 1963; 72 associates);

Cottonwood, Albuquerque, NM (173,000 square feet; opened in 1996; 56 associates)

Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV (178,000 square feet; opened in 1966; 84 associates)

Great Northern, Clay, NY (88,000 square feet; opened in 1989; 55 associates)

Oakdale Mall, Johnson City, NY (140,000 square feet; opened in 2000; 58 associates)

The Marketplace, Rochester, NY (149,000 square feet; opened in 1982; 77 associates)

Eastland, Columbus, OH (121,000 square feet; opened in 2006; 73 associates)

Sandusky, Sandusky, OH (133,000 square feet; opened in 1979; 61 associates)

Fort Steuben, Steubenville, OH (132,000 square feet; opened in 1974; 59 associates)

Promenade, Tulsa, OK (180,000 square feet; opened in 1996; 58 associates)

Neshaminy, Bensalem, PA (211,000 square feet; opened in 1968; 89 associates)

Shenango Valley, Hermitage, PA (106,000 square feet; opened in 1976; 69 associates)

Beaver Valley, Monaca, PA (203,000 square feet; opened in 1987; 78 associates)

Lycoming, Muncy, PA (120,000 square feet; opened in 1995; 61 associates)

Plymouth Meeting, Plymouth Meeting, PA (214,000 square feet; opened in 1966; 74 associates);

Washington Crown Center, Washington, PA (148,000 square feet; opened in 1999; 67 associates)

Parkdale, Beaumont, TX (171,000 square feet; opened in 2002; 67 associates)

Southwest Center, Dallas, TX (148,000 square feet; opened in 1975; 68 associates)

Sunland Park, El Paso, TX (105,000 square feet; opened in 2004; 71 associates)

Greenspoint, Houston, TX (314,000 square feet; opened in 1976; 70 associates)

West Oaks Mall, Houston, TX (244,000 square feet; opened in 1982; 135 associates)

Pasadena Town Square, Pasadena, TX (209,000 square feet; opened in 1962; 78 associates)

Collin Creek, Plano, TX (199,000 square feet; opened in 1980; 103 associates)

Broadway Square, Tyler, TX (100,000 square feet; opened in 1981; 65 associates)

Layton Hills, Layton, UT (162,000 square feet; opened in 1980; 72 associates)

Cottonwood, Salt Lake City, UT (200,000 square feet; opened in 1962; 88 associates)

Landmark, Alexandria, VA (201,000 square feet; opened in 1965; 119 associates)

River Ridge, Lynchburg, VA (144,000 square feet; opened in 1980; 60 associates)

Everett, Everett, WA (133,000 square feet; opened in 1977; 109 associates)

Three Rivers, Kelso, WA (51,000 square feet; opened in 1987; 57 associates)

Valley View, La Crosse, WI (101,000 square feet; opened in 1980; 57 associates)

Simi Valley Town Center (men’s/home/kids), Simi Valley, CA (190,000 square feet; opened in 2006; 105 associates)

Mall at Tuttle Crossing (furniture/home/kids/men's), Dublin, OH (227,000 square feet; opened in 2003; 52 associates)