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 Richmans' Trade and Taxes Blog

How to fix the debates - Jesse and I are Published on the American Thinker blog this morning
Howard Richman, 10/7/2020

By Jesse Richman and Howard Richman

The first presidential debate of 2020 was a national embarrassment.  The interruptions and talk-overs numbered more than 90 by some counts.  The moderator struggled to enforce the rules yet also led Trump to accuse him of being a third debate participant. Demolition derby in place of debate.

For years we have been advocating a solution that would radically improve the presidential debate format.  It has also been proposed by a bipartisan group convened by the Annenberg Center

The best solution is simple, elegant, and fair. Let the candidates manage their time but let only one microphone be on at once.  This solution is also readily extensible to a debate in which the candidates are in different places to minimize risk from Covid-19.  It is sometimes called a ‘chess clock’ debate format.

Imagine this introduction by the moderator of the next debate.  

Welcome to the second presidential debate.  The rules are as follows.  Each candidate has forty-five minutes total speaking time during this debate.  You cannot speak for more than three minutes at a time before the other candidate gets a turn.  When one of you is using your time, the other will have a muted microphone.  To request to speak, push the button on your podium.  Your time will start when the other is done speaking. The first question is…

Such a simple set of rules.  Such a radical transformation of the debate.   

No interruptions.  Each candidate will have a live microphone only when using their time.  The epidemic of interruptions for instant rebuttals during the other candidate’s argument will be eliminated.  Instead, this format lets each candidate speak at will, but forces the candidates to take turns.  No more than three minutes each. 

No moderator cutting off candidates.  A clock with time to speak on the current question and total time will be visible for each candidate. The alternative way to get turn taking is to let the moderator or the networks mute candidates. This risks the appearance and actuality of unfairness and invites rhetoric attacking the moderator.  

It will be candidate driven.  No one has more incentive to raise the tough questions and tough follow-ups for an opponent.  Both will have time to pursue those questions and their answers.  The moderator will enter with a new question only when no eligible candidate requests time, or at pre-selected intervals. 

It will be fast paced. Candidates will know that they can always use additional time to rebut, but no candidate will want to grant an opponent the luxury of the only extensive closing statement, and candidates will have less incentive to waste time by answering any question with more words than necessary. 

It would work equally well for a ‘Zoom’ debate. Because of the turn taking managed by requests to speak and the clock, this format will work well even if the candidates, as a health precaution, are not able to be in the same room together. 

Minor candidates can also potentially be included in this format without giving them an unfair advantage, and large primary candidate stages can be similarly accommodated.  The key is to use a formula (based on polling, fundraising, or some other metric) to allocate a small amount of time to minor candidates.  They would not receive the (arguably inappropriate) equal billing with major candidates, but they would also have a brief chance to make their case.  

A debate structured in this way will be good television and good for our democracy.  It will move the moderator to the sidelines, allow for more physical distance during the debate, and prevent interruptions.


To read this on the American Thinker website, go to:


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China's Genocide and Efforts to Export the Destruction of Human Freedoms
Jesse Richman, 12/6/2019

 has an important piece in the Federalist today on recent leaks from China and the revelations made by a former Chinese spy in Australia who is seeking ausylum. It's an important counterpoint to those who seek to diminish the threat posed by China. 

Raleigh discusses the recent document leaks which reveal in further detail the thoroughgoing Chinese plans to brutaly suppress the culture of 13 million citizens because of their culture and religion.  The manuals for deception.  The Orwellian survielance state. 

If the world would protect human rights, then it must not treat China as a normal state in these circumstances. States engaged in genocide are not normal states.  A good place to start would be suspension and then expulsion from the World Trade Organization, followed by revocation of most favored nation status, a status China richly deserved to lose 30 years ago when it slaughtered pro-democracy protestors, and should never have been given back.

 1989 democracy protests in China were brutally repressed with about 10,000 killed. But after brief interregnum US continued open economic policies with regime responsible for that violence despite the continued political dominance of the Chinese Communist party.

“Students understood they were given one hour to leave square but after five minutes APCs attacked. Students linked arms but were mown down including soldiers. APCs then ran over bodies time and time again to make 'pie' and remains collected by bulldozer. Remains incinerated and then hosed down drains. Four wounded girl students begged for their lives but were bayoneted." -From recently declassified British diplomatic cable.

The second set of revelations concerns Chinese influence and subversion campaigns...


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Politics and the Trade War
Jesse Richman, 5/27/2019

Samuel Rines has a good piece on the broader political moment of which the trade war is only a part. It misses two or three things though.  First, China's rise was facilitated by the US failure to counter it's mercantilism until it was much too late.  Second, the state capitalism model has many anticedants. Finally, the challenge of global economy versus state regulations needs more attention.



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How to end the shutdown
Jesse Richman, 1/14/2019

Shortly before Christmas, with negotiations between the White House and Congressional leadership at a stalemate, congressional authority for spending in a number of federal agencies ran out.  As a result, these agencies lost the ability to spend money.  Essential workers are being required to work without pay, and non-essential workers are being required to not work.  Democrats recently passed bills to reopen the closed agencies ( but the Senate declined to take up the bills because of the threatened presidential veto.  

The Senate unwillingness to take up the bills highlights a key challenge for the Democrats' strategy in the shutdown which seems to be to crank up the pressure on moderate Republicans to the point where they are willing to abandon Trump and join veto-proof majorities to override a Trump veto.   Because the Senate majority leader has major influence over whether bills are considered on the Senate floor, such a strategy would -- to succeed -- have to win over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  He is a long way from being won over now, as this Washington Post story discusses:  Democrats seem determined to relearn what Republicans found repeatedly during their period from 2011 through 2014: with control of the House but not the Senate, it is really really hard to get sharply partisan legislation onto the president's desk because you don't control the Senate agenda.  Back then Democrats mocked Republicans many efforts to pass a bill repealing Obamacare.  Today Democrats seem equally determined to beat their heads against a similar wall.

So what is the alternative path out of the shutdown?  Some shutdowns are over major issues of significant national import.  If this one was such a shutdown, then Democrats and Republicans might be justified in continuing it. Other shutdowns are over trivialities.  This one must rank nearly at the very top of the list of shutdowns over trivialities.  Whether or not the wall is a good policy idea, it is a minor one.  At stake is five billion in funding out of a Federal budget numbered in trillions.  To shut down the government, even part of it, with all of the chaos and costs that entails over an unwillingness to provide such funds so that the president can make a down payment on a signature campaign promise reflects a Washington in which partisan tribalism trumps policy sense.  And so, arguably, does shutting down the government in order to get such funds.

The solution then must provide a way for one tribe or the other to back down. Here's an idea -- a secret ballot...  


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A Shutdown over Trivialities
Jesse Richman, 12/27/2018

Shortly before Christmas, Congress discovered it could not agree between its chambers or with Trump concerning funding for the border wall requested by Trump.  Trump has been very patient with Congress over the last two years as it has repeatedly failed to provide much of any funding for the wall he campaigned on.  At last moment of the outgoing Republican Congress Trump seems to have realized that funding was not going to be coming unless he tried a different negotiating strategy.  And hence the shutdown came. 

Some shutdowns are over major issues of significant national import.  Others are over trivialities.  This one must rank nearly at the very top of the list of shutdowns over trivialities.  Whether or not the wall is a good policy idea, it is a minor one.  At stake is five billion in funding out of a Federal budget numbered in trillions.  To shut down the government, even part of it, with all of the chaos and costs that entails over an unwillingness to provide such funds so that the president can make a down payment on one of his major campaign promises reflects a Washington in which tribalism trumps policy sense... 


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How we settle problems in the United States -- my recent op-ed in Virginian Pilot
Jesse Richman, 11/28/2018

My recent op-ed for the Virginian Pilot has reached more than 15 thousand shares on Facebook.  Here are the first few paragraphs:

RECENT EVENTS have made heartrendingly clear that some people who pretend to be my fellow Americans haven’t the foggiest idea of the most basic principles on which our experiment in self-government rests. Their vicious actions of hate demonstrate that they do not understand how we settle problems around here.

These are passionate times we live in. And that passion has at times inspired the worst to do their worst. Some people confuse harassment and shout-downs for debate. Others “go in” for vicious violence, shooting innocent worshipers, concert and club goers, or members of Congress. Or they deliver bombs to the doorsteps of former presidents and the politically active. They demonstrate that they have forgotten the fundamentals of what it means to be an American.

Lest we let their hate breed more of the same evil, perhaps we all need to take a deep breath and remember these principles.

Disagreement is fundamental to democracy. It is inevitable that with more than 300 million of us, we won’t always see problems or their solutions the same way. We will disagree. Sometimes fundamentally. Sometimes passionately. But we do not let disagreement become hate.

Fundamental to democracy is the way we resolve these disagreements. We talk about them. If you think I am wrong, you are welcome to work to persuade others that I am wrong. You might even persuade me, for which I will thank you. We debate. We deliberate.

To read the rest of the essay, follow the link to


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How the Democrats and Anti-Trump Republicans Seem Bent on Creating a Fascist USA
Raymond Richman, 8/27/2017
Few people realize it but Pres. F. D. Roosevelt, citing the depression as an excuse, embarked on policies that began the making of the USA into a fascist country. The Nazi Party in Germany and Mussolini’s Fascists recognized the New Deal as resembling the politics of Nazism and Fascism, with a central government increasingly involved in managing the economy. What distinguishes the U.S. from fascism was and is the absence of an autocrat. The people still have the final say as the election of Donald Trump shows. But the opposition and the media refuse to concede his victory. There are too many alligators in the swamp. Authoritarianism and fascism are not the same. Fascist dictators are authoritarians but not all dictators are fascists. To be a fascist is to be both authoritarian and socialist. General Pinochet, a dictator, was anti-socialist and restored the free market in Chile. Hitler called his party Nazi, national socialist, which is the best short definition of fascism. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th Edition) defines fascism more accurately as a regime “that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition”. ...


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The USA Should End Its Support for Climate Agreements
Raymond Richman, 5/20/2017

Thirty-one U.S. multi-nationals and domestic corporations bought a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal May 12, 2017 addressed to President Trump expressing their “strong support for the United States remaining in the Paris Climate Agreement.” Signers included 3M, Cargill, Cummins, Coca Cola, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Proctor & Gamble, Tesla, and Walt Disney.  What is interesting is how few of America’s leading manufacturers were represented. They do not speak for American industry. This is the “swamp” pretending to be “concerned about keeping the doors open for the global flow of American manufacturing goods at this critical time when our manufacturing sector is starting to grow from our competitive energy advantage.” Where is the evidence of that? Where were they while the U.S. chronic trade deficits decimated American manufactures and caused millions of American manufacturing workers to lose their jobs. Those were real costs. We are not even sure that the costs of global warming exceed its benefits, contrary to what the global warming fanatics have been scaring us with.

The architects of the Paris climate accord deliberately designed it to get the Congress of the U.S. to approve it by pretending it does not bind the U.S. to set emissions targets or to do anything. The authors were mindful of the Kyoto Protocol which was roundly rejected by the United States Congress because it set binding emissions targets for wealthy countries while letting most developing nations, including China, off the hook. But now, as forces within the Trump administration continue to debate whether to leave the Paris agreement, they face a far different calculus. The accord, agreed to in 2015, is alleged to be nonbinding, imposing no serious legal restraints on the United States or any other nation. If so, why have a treaty? Because it does bind the U.S. to make periodic reports of what action it has been taking to reduce CO2 emissions.

But the evidence is irrefutable that the U.S. has already spent billions on alternative energy, subsidies to producers of alternative evergy, subsidies to millionaire buyers of expensive electric autos, and subsidies to those who install insulation or heat panels without having any effect at all on global warming. Why continue to waste billion of taxpayer money? ...


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Rosenstein's huge favor to Trump
Howard Richman, 5/20/2017

by Raymond Richman and Howard Richman

[Note: This piece appeared in American Thinker blog this morning.] 

Rob Rosenstein, Trump’s new Deputy Attorney General, did the Trump agenda a huge favor on Wednesday when he appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to investigate the Trump-Russia connection.

His action has already taken the wind out of the Democratic media’s sales. They were running story after story in an attempt to keep the pretend-scandal on the front pages. Now, they must await the outcome of the investigation. Congressional investigations will also be put on hold, so as to avoid interfering with the special counselor’s investigation.

The press will be forced to cover Trump’s ground-breaking trip to the Middle East. They will be forced to report the new job-creating trade deal with Saudi Arabia and the new alliance that Trump is shepherding between Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf Arabs against Iran and ISIS. Trump will come home from the Middle East a hero.

Our prediction of a positive outcome runs counter to the opinion of knowledgeable Trump supporters Dick Morris and Pat Buchanan. Both predict a negative outcome based upon their past experiences with independent prosecutors. Some Trump underling could even find himself falsely convicted of perjury (as was Scooter Libby, by the last special prosecutor).

But the difference here is that the 72-year-old Mueller is close to retirement, so he does not need to take scalps to further his career. Furthermore, no crime has been committed (except by Trump opponents who leaked and published classified data).

So Trump will be exculpated, which would put an end to the Trump-Russia allegation. We predict that Mueller’s investigation will end within 6 months.

Then, turnabout will be fair play as Attorney General Sessions prosecutes the Obama Administration for real crimes, perhaps beginning with their improper use of IRS power and NSC data for political purposes.



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The Changing Balance of International Power
Jesse Richman, 5/18/2017

One of the key facts of the twentieth century is that the balance of international power is not the same as it was during most of the 20th century.  A key contrast is the relative power of the United States and China.  The graph shows the CINC (Composite Index of National Material Capabilities) for the United States and China.  Through nearly the entire 20th Century the United States was clearly the more capable party.  But over the last two decades, China has taken a clear lead.  In part this may be driven by an index that puts substantial weight on population -- that may bias China's power up.  But it also likely reflects a reality.  



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Trump Must Give Priority to Reducing the Trade Deficits
Raymond Richman, 3/13/2017

Pres. Trump has his priorities wrong. Repealing Obamacare, building the wall on the Mexican border, improving education through school choice, lowering  the rates of corporate income tax, reform of the personal income tax, strengthening our military capabilities, etc. are  desirable but none of them attacks the real long-term malaise of the U.S. economy, the huge annual U.S. trade deficits. One cannot restore America’s greatness without reducing our international trade deficits which have been the primary cause of the wage stagnation and unemployment in manufacturing, restoration of which must be given the highest priority.

The ideology of free trade has permeated the media like the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, the New York Times, the Heritage Foundation, and many others including most of the economists in academia. Fortunately, a few like Prof. J. M. Keynes put free trade in perspective. A free trader in principle, he asserted that when the U.K. trading partners pursued “beggar-thy-neighbor” policies, the U.K. should retaliate. For over a century, economists have pointed out that even when countries pursued mercantilist practices, all trading partners gained in welfare so long as trade was balanced. But both parties do not gain if trade is unbalanced. ...


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The Result of Excessive Government Is Democratic Fascism  
Raymond Richman, 3/8/2017

A country in which central government expenditures account for an excessive part of the GDP can hardly be called democratic. The role of government in a democracy should be limited to defense, treasury operations, inter-country relations, a judicial system, the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure, maintaining law and order, and a limited number of specialized agencies. To the extent that the central government intervenes in the operation of the private economic system it should be limited to the grant of patents and copyrights as a reward for innovation and invention and little else. The setting of prices and wages should be beyond its powers. Even the anti-trust laws smack of crony capitalism.


The reader will recall that the Nazis professed to be socialist; indeed the term Nazi stands for National Socialist German Workers Party, dedicated to government control of all industry. Aided and abetted by Communists and communist fellow travelers, the party has been mislabeled a right-wing party but its basic orientation is socialist.  Bernie Sanders self-described himself as a democratic socialist but since he proposes unlimited government expenditures of a social nature his philosophy should be more appropriately described as democratic fascism....


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Comments on the news 2/5/2017
Raymond Richman, 2/5/2017

1) The big news was that the Federal Appeals Court of San Francisco temporarily at least supported the lower court judge’s  ruling staying the administration’s 90 day ban on immigration from seven countries with Moslem majority populations. What was surprising to me as a lawyer is that they allowed the ban while they considered the arguments. Normally, the practice is to stay the judge’s ruling while it considers the arguments. The Appeals Court gives the impression that political considerations determined their ruling. An anti-Trump judiciary? If so, shame on them.

2) A very interesting article appeared in the Feb.  3,  2017 issue of Quartz magazine, entitled “What Steve Bannon really wants” by Gwyn Guilford.

Following is a quote from the article:

“Bannon’s political philosophy boils down to three things that a Western country, and America in particular, needs to be successful: Capitalism, nationalism, and “Judeo-Christian values.” These are all deeply related, and essential. ...


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Soros Finances anti-Trump Women's March
Raymond Richman, 1/22/2017

Ex-WSJ Reporter Finds George Soros Has Ties To More Than 50 "Partners" Of The Women’s March | Zero Hedge

Ex-WSJ Reporter Finds George Soros Has Ties To More Than 50 "Partners" Of The Women’s March

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Former WSJ reporter Asra Nomani asks in the NYT's "Women In the World" section what is the link between one of Hillary Clinton’s largest donors and the Women’s March? Her answer: "as it turns out, it’s quite significant."


Here is what else she discovered.

Billionaire George Soros has ties to more than 50 ‘partners’ of the Women’s March on Washington

In the pre-dawn darkness of today’s presidential inauguration day, I faced a choice, as a lifelong liberal feminist who voted for Donald Trump for president: lace up my pink Nike sneakers to step forward and take the DC Metro into the nation’s capital for the inauguration of America’s new president, or wait and go tomorrow to the after-party, dubbed the “Women’s March on Washington”?

 The Guardian has touted the “Women’s March on Washington” as a “spontaneous” action for women’s rights. Another liberal media outlet, Vox, talks about the “huge, spontaneous groundswell” behind the march. On its website, organizers of the march are promoting their work as “a grassroots effort” with “independent” organizers. Even my local yoga studio, Beloved Yoga, is renting a bus and offering seats for $35. The march’s manifesto says magnificently, “The Rise of the Woman = The Rise of the Nation.”

It’s an idea that I, a liberal feminist, would embrace. But I know — and most of America knows — that the organizers of the march haven’t put into their manifesto: the march really isn’t a “women’s march.” It’s a march for women who are anti-Trump. ...



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Walll Street Journal's Recent Bias Against Trump Revealed By Its Editor
Raymond Richman, 1/5/2017

Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker on 1-5-2017 wrote an opinion piece entitled “Trump, ‘Lies’ and Honest Journalism” in which he argues that when he defended his advice to  the press to “be careful about using the word ‘lie’. ‘Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.”  “Mr. Trump certainly has a penchant for saying things whose truthful is, shall we say for now, challengeable” and “Given the number of times Mr. Trumps seems [sic!] to have uttered falsehoods” and “Mr. Trump has a record of saying things that are, as far as the available evidence tells us, untruthful: thousands of Muslims celebrating 9/11 on the rooftops of New Jersey, millions of votes cast illegally in the presidential election, President Obama’s supposed foreign birth” and “When Mr. Trump claimed that millions of votes were cast illegally, we noted, high up in our report, that there was no evidence for such a claim. No fair-minded or intelligent persons was left in any doubt whether this was a truthful statement.” He writes further, “Now, I may (sic!) believe that many of the things Mr. Trump has said in the past year are whoppers of the first order. But there is a difference of believing that, with reason (sic!)—my induction from knowledge of the fact—and reporting it as a fact. The latter demands a very high standard of reporting.” And finally, he concludes, “What matters if that we report the story and that we find the truth. It’s our job also to point out when candidates, presidents, chief executives, public officials or other s in the news say things that are untrue. But I’m content for the most part to leave the judgment about motive—and mendacity—to our readers, who are more than capable of making up their own minds about what constitutes a lie.”...


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George Washington’s Farewell Address Had More to Say Than Avoid Entangling Alliances
Raymond Richman, 12/27/2016

 In Washington’s Farewell Address 1796, the most frequently quoted passage is his admonition that the USA should avoid entangling alliances. On entangling alliances, he wrote,  “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world…Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.”  He wrote: “Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.  ..In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded.” What would he think of NATO and our bringing countries bordering Russia into a military alliance directed against Russia? Any NATO country could conceivably force us into a war with Russia.

Another area of concern to Pres. Washington was foreign trade. Regarding trade with nations, he wrote, “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible… constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. ...


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Trump Is Right That the Trade Deficits Have Crippled the U.S. Economy
Raymond Richman, 12/20/2016

In its issue of December 19, Barron’s magazine published an article entitled “Tackling Trump’s Trade Plan” written by a member of its staff, Gene Epstein, who holds an M.A. in Economics from the New School. Judging from his article, Epstein appears to know little about the theory of international trade.  He begins by writing how awful the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 was. He writes that “U.S foreign trade plunged by 40%, which helped drag the economy into the Great Depression.” That is nonsense. Net Exports, which is the net effect of foreign trade on Gross Domestic Product, was 0.3 billion in 1930, 0 billion in 1931 and 1932 and did not become negative until Pres. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies made it -0.2 and -0.3 in 1935 and 1936. The Snoot-Hawley tariff, contrary to widespread belief by economists and journalists, not only had no effect on the Great Depression which began three years before the tariffs became effective. It has been used falsely to attack anyone who is for balanced trade and opposes free trade. Of course, trade does not need to be balanced with every nation but over time needs to balanced against the rest of the world. A look at the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Gross Domestic Product accounts shows that the U.S. has been suffering chronic trade deficits for decades, which has converted the U.S. from the world’s leading creditor to the world’s leading debtor since about 1985, halved the economic growth rate,  and caused the loss of millions of good-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs. Our principal trading partners pursued a trade surplus policy to promote their economic growth at our expense.

When trade is balanced, all trading partners gain from trade, obtaining goods they value more by trading for goods they value less. When trade is unbalanced the trade surplus country trades some of its goods for an IOU of the other. Japan used those IOU’s to buy productive assets already in existence in the U.S., the Rockefeller Center. China and others have been buying U.S. businesses. Buying U.S. real estate and existing businesses does not create demand for U.S. labor. The U.S. by running chronic trade deficits with the rest of the world is not exchanging  goods it values less for goods it values more. It is increasing employment abroad while decreasing employment at home. ...


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Raymond Richman, 12/15/2016

Two items dominate the news today. The first and occupying the most time on television and space in the printed media are the “leaks” from the CIA that it believes Russian hacked the DNC and provided WikiLeaks with the emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton’s campaign and caused so many voters to support Trump. Presumably the Russians got the FBI to call attention to Hillary’s posting classified information on her internet servers which also influenced many voters. And no doubt the Russians were responsible for the turnout of more than 60 million voters who voted for Trump. My own view as a person who served as Executive Officer of a B-17 Bomb Squadron which conducted nearly 200 missions over Germany during World War II, is that Russian intelligence if it did not try to help defeat an American administration that got its Baltic neighbors to join in a military pact aimed at Russia and which helped overthrow a government in the Ukraine, Russia’s neighbor. a nation to whom Russia had granted territory housing Russia’s major naval base on its Southwestern, would be derelict in its duty to defend Russia’s interests. Russia has no reason to believe that Trump will change U.S. policy other than the fact that Trump has indicated a willingness to treat Russia civilly as Presidents G.W. Bush and Barack Obama did not.

The CIA has a history of intrusions in domestic politics and in the internal affairs of other independent nations to affect elections and overthrow governments. One could argue that is its duty to promote the interests of the U.S. abroad whatever the means. The CIA brought down a Republican President once before by leaking information that forced Richard Nixon to resign the presidency. ...


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Raymond Richman, 12/14/2016

Democrats and Never-Trump Republicans want an investigation into Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails, believing, probably falsely, that the Russians were responsible for the leaks that may have influenced the election in favor of Trump. But the leaks especially Wiki-leaks only revealed e-mails that were never denied. They contained news that the American people were entitled to know. Trump’s victory was a populist, i.e., popular, event similar to Brexit  in the U.K. and the recent elections in Italy. If the leaks were the result of Russian hacks, Russia should be thanked by the U.S. Congress on behalf of the American people for revealing the corruption within the Democratic Party, extending up to its chairwoman. Let’s hope we have more hacks that reveal corruption in Washington and anywhere else. If our intelligence is not hacking Russian emails, it should. U.S. intervention around the world is clear to see. We and NATO, our creation and principal supporter,  supplied weapons to rebels in Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, and others, organized the overthrow of the legally elected pro-Russian government of the Ukraine, recruited into NATO countries neighboring Russia. Imagine what they would be saying if Russia were join Cuba, Mexico, and Venezuela into a military pact. Revealing the results of hacking may be a sin only when it does not reveal public corruption.


Democrats and the Never-Trump Republicans and most of the media are saying how awful it is that Trump is appointing qualified skeptics civilians and former generals to cabinet posts. In their view, he should be appointing politicians, who as a group organized the decline of America from its former greatness, promoted the fallacious ideas that global-warming is man-made, that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes global warming, and the idea that raising the minimum wage is good economics, etc. That these are fallacious ideas has been pointed out on this blog repeatedly.   ...



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Policies President-Elect Trump Needs to Reconsider
Raymond Richman, 12/13/2016

There are several policies that President-Elect Donald Trump appears to have failed to think through. The following are some of those that we believe he has given insufficient thought to. These need to be brought to his and his advisors' attention.

First, the U.S. trade deficits need to be reduced, not by deals with each country or threats to American manufacturers re-locating their factories abroad but by the simple expedient of single-country-trade-balancing tariffs. China and all other countries want to grow their economies. It is not up to the U.S. or the World Trade Organization to mandate the policies they should pursue. Free trade is nonsense except where there is a common currency, no impediments to the flow of capital and labor, and no barriers to trade. Governments, even international agencies have no right to force independent nations into a single mold. Countries may adopt mercantilist policies such as tariffs and artificial barriers to imports, subsidies to exports, and currency manipulation but the remedy is not to go to great expense of time and money to prove and litigate such practices and mandate their elimination as the WTO was created to do or to negotiate their elimination as the president-elect wants to do. Every country has the right which is authorized by all multi-lateral international trade agreements to impose a trade-deficit-balancing- tariff. The tariff should be on all goods coming from the trade-surplus country not merely on imports of U.S. companies that have re-located factories there. The mechanism is simple as described in our book Balanced Trade (Lexington Books, 2014). Trade deficit countries have little to fear from such trade-balancing; trade- surplus countries are at an extreme disadvantage and their threats of a trade war hardly worth considering. An argument frequently made is that consumers will suffer which is hardly worth considering given that American workers suffer unemployment from the trade deficits as we have shown time and time again in our publications.

Second, President-elect Trump has proposed lowering the rates of the corporate income tax to make U.S. corporations more competitive. Unfortunately, the ownership of the shares of corporations is highly concentrated so cutting the corporate income tax will worsen the distribution of income and wealth. There is a simple solution. Eliminate the corporate income tax entirely and tax corporate earnings as personal income. Even with a cut in personal income tax rates, proposed by Mr. Trump, total revenues will be unaffected. ...


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How the Media Show Their Anti-Trump Bias and Why I Favor Trump  
Raymond Richman, 11/7/2016

You may believe that the media is anti-Trump because they believe he is unqualified to be President. Nothing is further than the truth. The real issue is his position on foreign trade. Free trade has become a Republican and Democratic ideology. There is nothing in economic trade theory that suggests free trade is an appropriate public policy unless the following conditions exist: the trading partners have a common currency, there is free movement of capital and labor, and no trading partner can impose artificial barriers to trade on imports from the other. The only place where these conditions hold is between the States of the USA because the U.S. constitution mandates them. Of course, multi-nationals are for free trade; it is the source of great profits.

And they favor globalization because it reduces the sovereign power of national governments. You did not hear a peep from any of them when the World Trade Organization ordered the U.S. government to rescind a law that the U.S. congress enacted requiring meat products to be labeled to show the country of origin. Can you believe that the U.S. Congress complied? And the U.S. media with the exception of Fox News, the Washington Times, and a few others fall in line with the desires of the multi-nationals as does the pre-Trump leadership of the Republican Party and the current leadership of the Democratic Party. Take as an example of media bias the following analysis of a single edition of a formerly conservative newspaper.

I read the Tribune Review, Pittsburgh edition, published on November 6, 2016, two days before the national presidential and Congressional elections, and what did I read? No news at all about the positions of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. ...


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Comments on News You May Have Missed
Raymond Richman, 10/8/2016

From web site, "Everything You Hear About Aleppo Is Wrong" by Tyler Durden. "The United States, on the other hand, continues to play a dangerous game in pushing this war further than it needs to. The United States-led coalition has no legal basis to be operating militarily in Syria, whether through their own domestic legislative institutions or through the United Nations. Russian assistance was requested formally by the Assad regime, which currently holds the seat at the U.N. This gives the Russian campaign an air of legitimacy whether or not it is immoral.

Yet the United States continues to give itself a special privilege (which only Israel can rival) by insisting the U.S. military has the right to defend itself against Russian anti-missile defense systems within Syrian territory. Yet, they argue, the Syrian regime does not have the right to defend itself against multiple ground and air invasions within their own country. (Bold type is in the original article.)

From Pittsburgh Trib-Review. In an opinion piece entitled "Discrimination & Free Markets", Prof. Walter Williams of George Mason University writes that Government intervention in South Africa maintained economic and social discrimination against blacks until Apartheid was ended. But it was not merely the ending of Apartheid that improved the status of blacks but adoption of some free market reforms. He writes, “in  free market settings one is apt to observe less racial discrimination because it is costly to both the discriminated and the discriminator.” And he writes, “From the 1860s into the 1960s, the majority of American states enforced segregation through the Jim Crow laws.” With the end of Jim Crow laws, discrimination against blacks was maintained by mostly market interfering measures such as the Davis-Bacon Act, minimum wage laws and occupational and business licensing regulations. Note: The Davis-Bacon Act and the minimum wage laws were initiated by Democratic Pres. FD Roosevelt under pressure from the then lily-white unions.

From Wall Street Journal. An article in the Business News section entitled, “Tax Credit Powers Wind-Farm Upgrades" reports that wind-farms are highly subsidized by the Production Tax Credit Act recently renewed by a Republican-controlled Congress at the behest of Pres. Obama, who believes that global warming is man-caused despite the fact that scientific studies show it to contribute to a fraction of it, one study estimating it at 15 percent.  Texas and California are the biggest wind energy states. The article recites, “In a report last year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the Treasury has forfeited more than $8 billion in revenue as a result of the tax credit And faulted Congress for repeatedly renewing the credit without requiring any agency to study its impact on renewable-energy development.”The article does not say so but the same is true of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on subsidies to solar energy, subsidies to builders of hybrid motor vehicles, and to homeowners and businesses in expenditures to reduce electricity consumption. The Republican Congressmen and Senators should the described as RINOs, Republicans in name only) ...


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Comments on some news items you may have missed
Raymond Richman, 10/6/2016

Today’s date, 10/6/2016. Some news you might have missed!...


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Trump won 1st debate trade fight
Jesse Richman, 10/5/2016

There were many things wrong with Trump's tactics in the first debate.  But he did accomplish one of his strategic goals.  He moved the polling needle on trade.  

The CNN / ORC poll asked several questions about which candidate would better handle a series of issues.  One of the issues was trade.  In both prior outings of this question, Clinton had a solid lead: 53:43 in late July for instance.  In the post-first-debate poll, Trump had taken the lead: 45 for Clinton, 49 for Trump.  Trump's position versus Clinton deteriorated marginally on most other issues.  But he won the trade segment. 


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Veep Debate -- A loss for Kaine and Civility
Jesse Richman, 10/5/2016

Civility took a back seat this debate.  Since 2012 at least, the presidential debates have headed to the gutter.  Interruption contests rather than contests of ideas.  I have proposed eliminating the moderator and letting the microphone do the business the moderators aren't of keeping time and preventing interruption.  But in the absence of that approach, perhaps we can consider the following.  Television networks can probably do this one all on their own.  If one of them advertises that they are taking this road next debate, I promise I will watch their feed. 

1. Announce that candidates who speak when it isn't their turn will have their microphone muted.  

2. Any candidate who speaks out of turn will have their image cut from the screen -- the camera will just show the opponent.

3. If candidates persist in violating the rules, change the angle and cut to the moderator when candidates interrupt.

Implementing this will merely require a few seconds of lag and an agile crew managing the video and audio feeds.  If done right, no one outside of the auditorium of the debate need ever know that one of the candidates lacked the basic self control and decency to wait until the opponent had delivered a sentence and exhausted the allotted time.   

As it is, the debates have become an embarrassment.  A display of bullying disrespect rather than an arena for the battle of ideas.  At best an audition for the weekend talk show circuit.   Perhaps the cross-talk makes for "good television" but it diminishes our democracy.  There should be ample provision of time to respond.  No quarter should be given, however, to the efforts candidates make to steal time and silence their opponents through snide remarks, repeated interruptions, and similar schoolyard tactics.  

The marching orders for Tim Kaine in the VP debate seem to have been to attack relentlessly.  But he was miscast for the role.  Kaine's basic temper and personality...


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Getting the moderators out of the presidential debates
Jesse Richman, 9/21/2016

I recently wrote a piece on presidential debate format for the Washington Post Monkey Cage blog.  Here's how it begins. 

Donald Trump recently picked up a suggestion that I made last year, a suggestion that was also made by a blue-ribbon, bipartisan group of campaign hands: Presidential debates be conducted without a moderator. It’s an idea worth thinking seriously about. Removing the moderator could well make debates faster, deeper, more informative, more interesting and more revealing...

To read the rest go to


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Western Politics at a Point of Disjunction
Jesse Richman, 6/23/2016

Politics in the West -- in Europe and the United States -- it at a break point.  A phase shift.  If as currently appears the British have chosen Brexit, one might say that the moment of disjunction is upon us.  What does it mean, and where is it going?

For more than half a century, the dominant political battle in the US and in much of Europe has been between economic and cultural left and right -- a fight principally over the degree to which governments will regulate, and the extent to which governments will tax and redistribute, and secondarily over secular versus traditional values.  Major parties of the left and right have been relatively united in pursuit of globalism -- free movement of people, goods, and capital.  With the strong vote for Brexit, the political toxicity of TPP and TTIP, and the strong performance of Trump and Sanders in US primaries, that epoch may be ending.  The new lines of conflict are between nationalists of the left and right and globalists of the left and right.  



Europe, threatened with fragmentation, may yet find the way to a new and more effective synthesis.  What is called for is a continental nationalism akin to the nationalism that draws Californians, Alaskans, New Yorkers, and Texans together in the United States.  And one that moves effectively to address the critical challenges faced -- defending the great good at the core of the enlightenment project Europe, the UK, and the United States share against both the narrow temptations of nativist nationalism and the dangerous naiveté of globalists who think that a world of perpetual and democratic peace will follow if only they shut their eyes to the folly, short-sightedness, and counter-productivity of their own policies, and the enemies of liberal democracy and the enlightenment on the march abroad.    



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Noted Liberal Economists, Krugman and Blinder, Espouse Free Trade, a Policy That Is Not Supported By Economics At ALL
Raymond Richman, 4/25/2016

Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winner and a former Princeton University Professor of Economics in an opinion piece entitled “Trade, Labor and Politics” in the New York Times (3/28/2016) and Alan Blinder, currently a Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton in an opinion piece entitled “Five Big Truths about Trade” in the Wall Street Journal (4/22/2016), urge doing nothing to eliminate the trade deficits the U.S. has been experiencing for over two decades. Princeton was the home of Woodrow Wilson, who created the League of Nations, the beginning of globalization, which is relevant because both are globalists which may explain why they wrote the nonsense we criticize. It is to be hoped that they are not representative of the economics faculty at Princeton.

Krugman begins by writing that the “Republicans, who claim to stand for free markets, are likely to nominate a crude protectionist…”  Donald Trump is hardly a crude protectionist. He has said he wants to end the huge chronic trade surplus China has had with us for nearly two decades and will take action to prevent American firms moving their factories abroad. That makes him a wise protectionist because these are actions we need to take. Was Keynes a crude protectionist when he said decades ago that Britain should take retaliatory action against mercantilist “beggar-thy-neighbor” policies pursued by its trading partners? And am I, a University of Chicago Ph. D. in Economics, a crude protectionist for pointing out that economics as a science does not justify “free” trade at all. All that economics has to say is that balanced trade is always beneficial to trading partners. Trade does not need to be balanced with every country but a country’s trade should be balanced overall with its many trading partners. Free trade as a policy could only be recommended by economists when the trading partners 1) have a common currency, 2) there is free movement of labor and capital between them, and 3) neither partner can impose barriers to trade, restrictions imposed on the States by our Constitution. The European Union has similar conditions.

Krugman admits that  “for the past few decades globalization has probably been, on net, a depressing force for the majority of U.S. workers.” What an understatement! Millions of American workers have lost good jobs in manufacturing which is the cause of the economic malaise afflicting this country. But Krugman talks about “globalization” as the cause. It was not globalization but the ideology of free trade and the trade treaties that accompanied globalization that produced the unintended consequence of U.S. trade deficits. The United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the International Labor Organization, the World Health Organization, and hundreds of other agencies were created in the process of globalization but none of them have had a depressing effect on American workers. Only the trade deficits have done that. Krugman ought to stick to economics. Globalization is not economics, trade deficits are. ...


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Journalists and Their Economic Illiteracy I.
Raymond Richman, 4/19/2016

The editorial page of the Trib-Review in its Saturday edition 4/16/1016 illustrates what is wrong with the media today. First, the editorial on the page criticizes the Republican Party for not opposing the Export-Import Bank created by the Truman administration in 1945. The editorial calls the X-Im Bank crony capitalism because the bulk of its loans go to large companies like Boeing and GE, but in 2015 the bank made more than 2,300 transactions that helped U.S. small businesses export their products.  The Ex-Im bank guarantees to keep U.S. banks harmless on loans they make to foreigners to purchase U.S. goods but requires them to use sound economic criteria when they make such loans. The Ex-Im Bank has been entirely self-funded since 2007 and cost the government very little over its life as a bank. It adds nothing to the budget deficit at all. Surely there are better things to cut. There are, according to the EX-Im Bank 85 foreign countries that have export credit agencies. It is not an example of “Crony capitalism”. The latter is evidenced by government grants, subsidies, and tax breaks to favored companies. Examples are the huge subsidies and guarantees given companies producing electricity from wind and solar sources and the tax credits given to buyers of hybrid and electric vehicles which line the pockets of the companies that produce such vehicles. Given the fact that the U.S. imported $500 billion worth of goods and services in 2015 than it exported, there is good reason for its continued existence.  The editorial would have been more appropriate when the U.S. was the leading creditor nation in the 1950s and 1960s but today it is the leading debtor nation.

Second, in a column on the editorial page John Stossell,


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Recent polling data on trade
Jesse Richman, 4/13/2016

Public opinion on trade policy continues to be at substantial odds with most U.S. public policy.  

A mid-March Bloomberg poll asked the following question:  "Turning now to trade, generally speaking, do you think U.S. trade policy should have more restrictions on imported foreign goods to protect American jobs, or have fewer restrictions to enable American consumers to have the most choices and the lowest prices?"  65 percent supported more restrictions.  22 percent supported fewer restrictions. 

Another question asked "Overall, do you think NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, has been good or bad for the U.S. economy?"  44 percent said it had been bad for the U.S. economy, and 29 percent said it had been good. 

Bloomberg's analysis of the poll can be found here.  They titled it "Free-Trade Opposition Unites Political Parties...


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An Analysis of the Proposals of the Republican Candidates for President
Raymond Richman, 3/15/2016

Following are the proposals and views of the Donald Trump. Sen Cruz, Sen. Rubio, and Gov. Kasich and my comments on their proposals:

Donald Trump, a businessman and graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, makes the following proposals. Trump

  1. would deport illegal immigrants. No other candidate approves this suggestion.
  2. build a fence between the U.S. and Mexico. No other candidate makes this suggestion.
  3. believes that marriage is a state not a federal concern. All the candidates except Kasich agree.
  4. proposes to cut income taxes, corporate and personal. Cruz and Rubio suggest changes in corporate and personal income taxes. (See below.) We have our own proposals which differ from those of all the candidates.
  5. suggests there is little man-made global warning and measures to reduce global warming are ineffective, costly, and damaging to the economy. Cruz is the only one who agrees.
  6. urges balancing trade with China, Japan, Mexico, and other large trading partners. No other candidate appears to agree.
  7. wants to prevent American firms from moving their factories abroad. None of the others mention this.
  8. would impose a ban on travel of Muslims to the U.S. No other candidates agree.
  9. opposes government financing abortions but otherwise approves Planned Parenthood. Cruz and Rubio have similar but not identical views.
  10. Promises to reduce the national debt. All the candidates promise the same.

 Ted Cruz, a lawyer, graduate of Princeton University, received a law degree from Harvard University makes the following proposals: ...



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Memo to Media: Stop the Idiocy -- Focus on the Delegate Counts
Jesse Richman, 3/3/2016

The vast majority of the media coverage of the March 1st Super Tuesday primaries had a fundamentally mistaken focus.  Most journalistic coverage obsessed about absolutely the WRONG facts and stats.  In both parties, all of the states voting on Super Tuesday used some form of proportional allocation of the delegates, with subtly and very importantly different formulas across the states.  Because the delegates are allocated semi-proportionately, the right statistics to focus on are not how many states a particular candidate has 'won' but how many delegates.  

A close second place finish can net the same number of delegates as a weak first-place finish.  For instance, Trump and Kasich tied in the delegate count in Vermont.  On the other hand, a blow-out first place finish can yield a very large delegate lead.  Sanders ran the table on Clinton in Vermont, taking every single delegate despite proportional rules.  The delegate math doesn't conflate these two.  Simple-minded coverage that highlights states won does...


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Trade imbalances, inequality, and the political pressure cooker
Jesse Richman, 2/29/2016

Michael Hirsh has an interesting analysis in the most recent  Politico entitled "Why Trump and Sanders Were Inevitable."  His argument is that failed US globalization policies (I would say trade policies), rising inequality, and increasing insecurity are at the root of the rise of Trump and Sanders. A few choice quotes:

"Both Democratic and Republican leaders, meanwhile, are still kidding themselves that their respective bases are … basically OK with their economic agendas, when plainly the numbers show they aren’t. On the GOP side, there were those who thought the tea party was libertarian, but nothing could have been further from the truth, as Rand Paul discovered when his presidential bid crashed and burned. Even a conservative in the maltreated middle class doesn’t want less help from government; instead the tea party backlash was anti-immigrant and anti-Obama—not so much opposed to government per se as to how government redistributes wealth. The Democratic establishment from Obama to Hillary Clinton has been continually surprised by the anger and sense of betrayal within its progressive wing, which is why so few people took Sanders seriously at first (including the Clintons).

"Thus what we have now is an emerging ideology with no party to speak for it." 

Read more:

Rubio, and many establishment Republicans, are currently in the midst of an all out war to stop Donald Trump.  Whether they succeed or not remains to be seen.  Clinton seems to be consolidating support versus Sanders.  But not matter what the Super Tuesday returns reveal, one thing is certain.  This isn't the last round of the struggle to reshape America's catastrophically bad trade policies towards something more likely to promote the general prosperity of its citizens, their security, and their freedom.  

On this blog we have been attempting to promote and develop such policies for a number of years.  Our 2008 book "Trading Away Our Future" outlined our thinking at that point in its final chapter: "A Program For a Strong America."  Since then we have added the Scaled Tariff idea promoted in our second book "Balanced Trade". 

It has become fashionable to dismiss the emerging "ideology" Hirsh refers to as populist.  But there is room in the real response to these rising problems for effective, reasoned policies that promote prosperity, diminish inequality, and begin to restore balance to the U.S. economy.  Whatever his faults and failings, Trump is right that the US must take steps to balance its trade with China.  And with the rest of the world.  And flawed though some of his prescriptions (and budget projections) are, Sanders is right that inequality is a problem that US leaders must begin to take more seriously.    

Unfortunately, we are arguably now in an era Ray, Howard, and I predicted in our 2008 book, one in which polarization and radicalism are rising: "If Republicans were in power during the crash," we wrote...


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Wealth and Income Inequality Is Not As Bad As You Think
Raymond Richman, 2/27/2016

Sen. Bernie Sanders says, “There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of one percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.” He writes: “The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time, and it is the great political issue of our time.” The trouble is that none of it is true except the fact that it is a political issue because leftists like Sanders make it so. The propaganda is based on calculations of the inequality of wealth which do not tell the whole story. They exclude the value of pensions, annuities, and social security. They also exclude the value of government wealth – national, state, and city parks and other land and buildings, including schools, libraries, stadiums, vehicles, streets and roads, and public transit facilities which are owned by everyone equally.

Wealth used in the measure of inequality includes the value of the assets owned by a household including stocks, bonds, and real estate, including the net value of homes. Income used in measures of equality is defined as the return one receives in the form of wages and salaries, rents, interest, profits, and returns from past savings and investments, including dividends, annuities, pensions, and social security benefits.  The income measured is income before income taxes. Income after income tax as we shall note is considerably more equal than income before tax. Moreover, not all income is consumed. Consumption is a measure of what households take out of the economy, whereas income before income tax and wealth are measures of what the household has contributed to the economy. Obviously income after tax and consumption are much more equal that the distribution of household wealth.

One of the myths propagated by the left is that the inequality of wealth and income are constantly rising. In fact both rise and fall over decades they have been studied. Profs. Emmanuel Saez (UC Berkeley) and Gabriel Zucman (LSE) studied wealth inequality and produced the graph below which shows that the share of total household wealth owned by the top 0.1 percent was 25% in 1916, then it fell to 15% in 1923, rose to 25% in 1929, then began a downward trend reaching 7 percent in 1978 and rose to 22 percent in 2013. It continued to rise until 2015. The degree of inequality depends largely on the level of prices of corporate stock and real estate. The rise since 2009 can be attributed to the Federal Reserve policy of artificially causing low interest rates. The prices of corporate stock and of real estate are determined by the capitalization of their net incomes which depends on the level of interest rates. Their values increase as interest rates fall and fall as interest rates rise. And that was the FED’s policy beginning in 2009, the FED hoping that increased values of real estate and securities would cause their owners to increase consumption and investment. Unfortunately, the FED’s expectations turned out to be wrong; neither consumption nor investment increased as much as they expected, so the recovery languished. ...


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Who Is a Conservative and What Are Conservative Policies?  
Raymond Richman, 2/8/2016

The National Review is considered to be a politically conservative magazine. Recently (January, 2016), It published a special issue that includes 20 pieces by persons it deems are proven conservatives. I am a fan and admirer of a number of them. But none of them defines what a conservative is. In my view, a political conservative is one who believes in a limited role for government, a strict construction of the constitution, fiscal discipline, and in the free enterprise system. All political conservatives are also social conservatives to some degree. Social conservatives oppose abortion, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, consider marriage to be between a man and a woman, and to hold some religious beliefs. Some believe that abortion is permissible early in a pregnancy, some believe that persons can be homosexuals but disapprove public manifestations of such relationships, some believe in divorce and others not, and some are atheists but hold some ethical values religions advocate. One can be politically conservative without being an ardent social conservative. Let’s take a look at why the following persons deemed to be conservative by the editors of the National Review do not consider Donald Trump to be conservative. Trump has never held public office so the views attributable to him are views he expressed as a private citizen. Let us analyze the reasons the writers give for believing Trump is not a Conservative. We believe that Trump is sufficiently conservative to be President....


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Is Trump a True Conservative? -- we're published in American Thinker this morning
Howard Richman, 2/8/2016

We begin:

During Saturday’s Republican presidential candidate debate in New Hampshire, Donald Trump was asked:

Mr. Trump, you've heard the argument from many of the candidates on this stage that you're not a true conservative. Tell the voters watching tonight why you are.

He replied:

Well, I think I am, and to me, I view the word conservative as a derivative of the word “conserve.” We want to conserve our money. We want to conserve our wealth. We want to conserve. We want to be smart. We want to be smart where we go, where we spend, how we spend. We want to conserve our country. We want to save our country. And we have people that have no idea how to do that, and they are not doing it, and it's a very important word and it's something I believe in very, very strongly.

Trump gave a general definition of conservative, which is valid. But there are more specific definitions as well. A political conservative is one who believes in a limited role for government, a strict construction of the constitution, fiscal discipline, rule of law and free enterprise. Social conservatives support the traditional family and oppose abortion, pornography, sexual promiscuity and redefinition of marriage. One can be politically conservative without being socially conservative and vice versa. We are not experts on social conservatism, but we do know something about economics, so we will examine whether Trump is a political conservative.

To read the rest, go to:


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How to remove moderator bias from the presidential debates -- we're published in American Thinker this morning
Howard Richman, 1/29/2016

We begin:

The 2016 presidential primary debates are arguably at a breaking point.  Donald Trump's refusal to participate in Thursday night's Fox News/Google debate raises to a new level expressions of candidate dissatisfaction with debate questions and debate format. 

The problem is that the current format gives moderators and the news organizations that they represent way too much power.  They engineer the questions to be asked.  They control which candidates have an opportunity to answer what question, and for how long, and at what time.  They even pick members of the public to ask biased questions.  As a result, debates have gotten quite unfair.  For example:

  • Donald Trump.  The leading candidate in the Republican race pulled out of Thursday's debate after Fox News included Megyn Kelly as a questioner over Trump's objections, which stemmed from the question that she asked at the outset of the first debate.  In addition, some argue THAT Fox News and Google stacked the deck against Trump in advance of this week's debate with questions to be asked by an illegal immigrant U.S. Army veteran and by a Muslim-American – both young women.
  • Jim Webb.  The lone moderate in the Democratic Party's race dropped out of the Democratic campaign almost immediately after a frustrating first Democratic debate in which he felt he was ignored and poorly treated. 
  • Bernie Sanders.  According to Dick Morris, the format of CNN's final Democratic primary debate kept Bernie Sanders from challenging Hillary Clinton's lies.  And one of the "town hall" questioners revealed that he had been told to ask the softball question for Hillary that he asked.
  • Mitt Romney.  CNN moderator Candy Crowley and President Obama enacted what appeared to be a prepared script to get Obama off the hook for misleading the American people about the terrorist nature of the Benghazi attack, which left several dead Americans.
As these examples demonstrate, moderators and the organizations that they represent use their power over the process to tip the scales in favor of one candidate or the other.  Anti-establishment candidates appear to get targeted during the primary election debates, while Republicans get targeted in the general election debates. 

To read the rest, follow the following link:



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Had Pres. Bill Clilnton Banned Muslim Travel to the USA 9/11 Would Not Have Occurred
Raymond Richman, 1/5/2016

Candidate Donald Trump called for the United States to bar all Muslims from entering the country until the nation’s leaders can “figure out what is going on”. Saying that “hatred” among many Muslims for Americans is “beyond comprehension,” Mr. Trump said in a statement that the United States needed to confront “where this hatred comes from and why.” “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” Mr. Trump said.

According to the New York Times, “Repudiation of Mr. Trump’s remarks was swift and severe among religious groups and politicians from both parties. Mr. Trump is “unhinged,” said one Republican rival, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, while another, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, called the ban “offensive and outlandish.” Hillary Clinton said the idea was “reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive.” Organizations representing Jews, Christians and those of other faiths quickly joined Muslims in denouncing Mr. Trump’s proposal…Mr. Trump made his remarks a day after President Obama delivered a national address from the Oval Office urging Americans not to turn against Muslims in the wake of the terrorist attacks.”

All seem to have forgotten that Muslims from many Mid-east countries participated in terrorist attacks in the U.S., attacks on U.S. passenger airplanes, attacks in friendly countries like the Philippines and France. The Muslim terrorists involved in those attacks came from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait, Pakistan, Chechenia, and others with Muslim populations.

Had the ban been imposed by Pres, Clinton after the first bombing of the Word Trade Center in 1993 and after the warnings he received from the Philippine Police after the attacks in the Philippines in 1995, we would have avoided the attacks of Muslims in the U.S. during the past two decades and saved thousands of American lives. According to Wikipedia, the following Muslim attacks took place in the U.S. since 1993:...


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How to make the presidential debates work better: make the clock a moderator (WAPO)
Jesse Richman, 12/16/2015

In my just-published piece "How to improve our presidential debates in one easy step: Make the clock a moderator" on the Washington Post website I begin:

At their best, debates serve democracy: They highlight candidates’ strengths and flaws and provide a forum for candidates to explain their positions or debunk the claims of others.  Unfortunately, in the minds of many Americans, debates fall short of these ideals.

Last night’s Republican debate was likely no exception, as it encountered many of the same problems as those of previous debates.  Candidates talked over each other and the moderators in pursuit of precious camera time.

So it’s time we gave debate rules and technology some closer thought. I propose creating a market or auction for debate time that makes the clock a moderator.

Here’s how it works. Each candidate will enter the debate with a known and finite amount of time to speak.  The choice of when to utilize that time to speak will be at the discretion of the candidate.  As a result, candidates will have an incentive to use their time more wisely, knowing that it could run out.

To read the rest, go to 


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Cracks in the Left-Right Political Alignment
Jesse Richman, 11/13/2015

The current political division is (roughly) between those who favor socially conservative and small government policies, and those who favor socially liberal and large government policies.  An alternative alignment would pit those who see globalization as a threat to be confronted through national solidarity, and those who see globalization as an opportunity for inter-cultural and inter-economic collaboration...


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Republican Opposition to the Ex-Im Bank is foolish.Time for Presidential Candidates to Declare Themselves
Raymond Richman, 8/3/2015

Nothing shows the incompetence of the Republican rank and file in Congress than their opposition to the Ex-Im Bank on purely ideological grounds. The Ex-Im Bank is an independent government agency that finances the purchase by foreign companies of American products. The Ex-Im Bank does not cost the American taxpayers a dime. Not a word of complaint against the World Bank, an international socialist bank that lends money to foreign businesses and governments to finance foolish global warming projects and costs American taxpayers billions of dollars. Not a word against the waste of billions of dollars supporting the U.N., a basically anti-American world government. No proposal to eliminate US Department of Education or the US Department of Housing and Urban Housing and ousing andHHDevelopment, or to reduce the subsidies to wind and solar plants, luxury hybrid electric autos, businesses that invest in solar panels, etc., etc.  Education and urban housing are state and local responsibilities under the US Constitution and both departments have abysmal records of accomplishment. And taxpayers are forced to pay higher electric prices because utilities are required to overpay for wind and solar energy. but none of this comes in for criticism from Republican from the Republican candidates.    

The Ex-Im bank states that by financing the export of American goods and services, it has supported 1.3 million private-sector, American jobs since 2009, supporting 164,000 jobs in FY 2014 alone. There is no reason to question its claim.

Here in Pittsburgh, PNC Bank has been using the Ex-Im Bank to ensure some of its loans to foreign importers of American goods from its American clients, supporting American jobs.

Nothing shows the incompetence of the Republican candidates for president all of whom pledge to reduce the size of the federal government. What federal expenditures would they cut?  They offer no specifics. As for increasing private employment, only   Donald Trump offered a specific proposal, balanced trade instead of free trade which has produced mushrooming trade deficits costing millions of private jobs.

Isn’t it time for the presidential candidates to indicate their priorities, what federal expenditures they propose to cut. ...


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Senate Voluntarily Cedes U.S. Sovereignty to the United Nations
Raymond Richman, 7/28/2015

David B. Rivkin, Jr. and Lee A. Casey, constitutional lawyers at Baker Hostetler LLP served in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and GHW Bush. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, July, 27, 2015, they wrote:

The Obama Administration had help in its end-run around the Constitution. Instead of insisting on compliance with the Senate’s treaty-making prerogatives , Congress enacted the Iran Nuclear Agreement Act of 2015. Known as the Corker-Cardin, it surrenders on the constitutional requirement that the president obtain a Senate supermajority to go forward with a major international agreement. Instead, the act effectively requires a veto-proof majority in both house of Congress to block elements of the Iran deal related to U.S. sanctions relief. The act doesn’t require congressional approval for the agreement as a whole.

Last week, the U.N. Security Council endorsed the Iran deal. The resolution, adopted under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, legally binds all member states, including the U.S. … The Security Council gambit has enabled the administration , without Senate consent, to bind the U.S. under international law.

The Republican leadership has to explain to the American people why it waived U.S. sovereignty in favor of world government. ...


Comments: 1

What Is the Remedy When the Supreme Court Exceeds Its Constitutional Authority? (version 2)
Raymond Richman, 7/1/2015

The Constitution of the U.S. made no provision for judicial review of federal or state legislation. Articles III, of the Constitution of the U.S. created the federal judicial system, but made no provision for declaring unconstitutional Congressional legislation or Presidential actions. In the  case of Marbury v. Madison (1803), the Supreme Court  arrogated to itself the power to declare actions of the President and the Congress and the several states unconstitutional. But the power is not unlimited. The Court has no power to legislate as it has done in cases stemming back to Pres. F. Roosevelt when the President attempted to pack the Court. It has the power to interpret laws and the constitution when there is ambiguity in the letter of the law or conflicting legislation. The President and the Congress are entitled to challenge any excessive arrogation of power.

Amendments to the Constitution have weakened the States. The U. S. constitution created a republic with the federal government having limited powers with all rights not granted to it being reserved to the states or to the people under the 10th amendment. The first of the amendments to weaken the States was the 14th amendment ratified in 1868. Section 1 recites that “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Of course, the Civil War denied the States the right to secede from the union. The 14th Amendment went further; it reduced the rights of states even those that had not attempted to secede. The Supreme Court in its making marriage between homosexuals indicates how much this amendment weakened the States, 32 of which have laws banning marriage among homosexuals. ...


Comments: 0

Trump on Trade
Frank Kirkland, 6/18/2015

Whatever one may think of newly-announced Presidential candidate Donald Trump and his positions on issues, there is no denying his acumen and success as a businessman. He clearly brings a pragmatic approach to developing business strategies and negotiating business deals. So what has he said about international trade and how the US conducts it?

Using as a convenient source, we first see that he strongly embraces globalization and international markets. He is clearly "pro trade" (just as are most of the opponents of TPA/TPP who are unfairly characterized as being anti-trade.) But not surprisingly, the strategy and tactics reflected in his statements on trade reflect those of a goal-oriented businessman who takes positions consistent with being the CEO of "America Incorporated", not of a lifelong USTR bureaucrat. (I.e., acting just like the leaders of our trading partners already do.)

Specifically, he says trade must be "fair" as well as free and that it is now not fair...


Comments: 1

Ben Shapiro does a brilliant job of explaining why Congress keeps ceding its power to Obama
Jesse Richman, 6/4/2015

Shapiro's argument came in a piece at Breitbart entitled "Obama's Trade Agreement Leaks While Republicans Cower." He writes:

The idea behind fast-track authority is that the president will not feel free to negotiate, and no one will negotiate with him, if any agreement is subjected to the prospect that a negotiated agreement could be renegotiated by a third party – namely, Congress. But this is a particularly odd argument, because it assumes that the president wants to give away more than is in the United States’ interest to give away. After all, the president can use the possibility of Congressional wrangling as a leverage point in negotiations: “How can I go back to Congress with this proposal? You know they’ll simply amend it. If you give me X, however, then I can fairly assure you that we’ll get this deal done.” Congress provides a convenient and useful “bad cop” for any president hoping to negotiate an international agreement....


Comments: 0

Does trading away our future buy the US friends?
Jesse Richman, 5/7/2015

Writing on May 3 in the Washington Post, the often thoughtful and perceptive Robert J. Samuelson made a fall-back argument for the Trans Pacific Partnership: it's good politics, even if the economics are lousy.  The fall back is a weak position, however.  Is it truly good politics in the long run to pursue imbalanced trade policies that undermine U.S. power?

Samuelson notes that the economic benefits of the deal would be extremely modest: "Still, plausible economic gains from expanded trade seem modest. By 2025, the incomes of the 12 countries could increase by 0.9 percent, according to a revised estimate by a study for the Peterson Institute."  He appears to assume that these will be divided equally though if current patterns hold and U.S. trade deficits with partnership nations grow substantially, the benefits will likely not flow to the U.S. much at all.

But he argues that US trade policy isn't about economics: it's about politics.  "Still, the pursuit of political ends by economic means remains at the core of U.S. trade policy." ...


Comments: 0

How the Federal Reserve and Government Policies Make the Rich Richer and the Poor Poorer
Raymond Richman, 2/25/2015

The Federal Reserve Board and the Obama Administration are chiefly responsible for the creation of two economies in the US, one for the rich and upper middle class and one for the poor and lower middle class. The Fed by its quantitative easing widened the unequal distribution of wealth by causing the prices of corporate stock and commercial real estate to rise to unprecedented levels. Obama’s countercyclical policies gave us the $18 trillion federal government debt which only hyper-inflation will pay-off. Obama’s support of the minimum wage have denied lower-class blacks jobs keeping them poor and dependent on government handouts. And Obama’s and the Republicans’ free trade policies and his permitting US corporations to our-source factories abroad and import their goods free of tariffs have cost American workers millions of jobs and the manufacturing sector of the economy to stagnate.

The Fed is largely responsible for the real estate bubble and its bursting and the ensuing financial crises that engulfed the world in 2008. It was put in charge of   administering the Community Investment Act which told the Fed to keep mortgage standards high but it did nothing to prevent unqualified persons from obtaining mortgages. ...


Comments: 0

Is James Webb the Best Candidate in the Democratic Field?
Jesse Richman, 2/19/2015

The Democratic and Republican primary electoral campaigns are as yet in their early stages as candidates maneuver for early voter support and initial financial backing.  The field remains fluid in both parties. 

On the Democratic side, Clinton is clearly the dominant candidate, with a majority of Democrats polled backing her candidacy in recent polling.  But Clinton's lead is eroding as voters begin to consider the broader field.  

In that broader field one of the more quixotic candidates, James Webb, deserves a close look by Democratic primary voters....

The failures of the Clinton policy toward China were significant and continue to cost millions of American jobs, along with significant foreign policy costs around the world.  Hopefully a strong Webb candidacy could help push Clinton to take forceful positions on trade. If Webb comes out strongly for balanced trade with China he will deserve support in the Democratic primaries. 


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Cloture Rule May be Key Senate Vote -- We were published in today's American Thinker
Howard Richman, 11/20/2014

We began:

The most important vote that the Republican Senate takes next year may be a procedural vote.  If the Senate continues last session’s cloture rule, Senate Democrats will be given the power to keep the Republican agenda off President Obama’s desk.

But if senators return to the earlier version of the Senate cloture rule that was in place until the early 1970s, they will be able to put legislation on President Obama’s desk that would be popular with the Republican base in particular and with the majority of the American people as well.

The filibuster was created (at Thomas Jefferson’s behest) when the motion to “call the previous question” was struck from Senate rules, leaving no way to force a final vote on legislation.  A cloture rule was added in 1917 that permitted two thirds of senators present and voting to draw debate to a close.  Although in the 1950s senators experimented with requiring two thirds of all senators to support cloture, Lyndon Johnson’s Senate ultimately returned to the more workable present and voting standard....

To read the rest, go to:


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The role of non-citizens in U.S. Elections
Jesse Richman, 10/24/2014

I have a piece with David Earnest up on the Washington Post website this evening which reports on the results of research into the role of non-citizens in U.S. elections.  Although it is illegal for non-citizens to vote in U.S. elections, some do.  We report on an analysis of survey data that allows us to estimate the scale of this participation, and to identify election outcomes that were likely altered by the presence of non-citizen votes. 

The piece appears on the Monkey Cage, a Washington Post blog which reports on Political Science research.  

We begin: 

Could control of the Senate in 2014 be decided by illegal votes cast by non-citizens? Some argue that incidents of voting by non-citizens are so rare as to be inconsequential, with efforts to block fraud a screen for an agenda to prevent poor and minority voters from exercising the franchise, while others define such incidents as a threat to democracy itself. Both sides depend more heavily on anecdotes than data.

In a forthcoming article in the journal Electoral Studies, we bring real data from big social science survey datasets to bear on the question of whether, to what extent, and for whom non-citizens vote in U.S. elections. Most non-citizens do not register, let alone vote. But enough do that their participation can change the outcome of close races.

I encourage you to take a look at the entire piece. 



Comments: 1

Outsourcing is not a political winner, and may cost Republicans the Senate
Jesse Richman, 10/16/2014

Democrats are taking a page from their Anti-Romney playbook with a series of apparently quite effective attack ads against Georgia Republican Senate candidate David Purdue. Purdue must respond effectively, and articulate a clear vision on trade to counter these attacks.

Purdue seems to be in significant trouble. The polls have tightened, and national super-PACs and campaign committees are pouring millions into the Georgia Senate contest as a result. A major factor in that trouble seems to be his record of outsourcing jobs while CEO of Dollar General and before that as an executive with other firms, as highlighted in a series of attack ads such as this attack on his compensation from managing a struggling manufacturing company that folder soon after he left, this ad emphasizing his career in outsourcing ad and this "outsourcing is good" ad. The Real Clear Politics average for this race began moving substantially immediately after the second ad ran, with Nunn leading in the two most recent polls.

Purdue's campaign website says some very positive things about his aspirations to boost the growth of American manufacturing....


Comments: 1

Similarities and Differences Between Fascism, Communism, Socialism, Democrats and Republicans
Raymond Richman, 10/13/2014

Both political parties in the U.S. are coalitions. The Democrats include persons who believe government has a role in setting the direction of the economy and those who want government to control the economy, including socialists. Republicans include people who believe government has a more modest role in setting the direction of the economy and conservatives who fear a powerful government. The Democrats are labelled as leftists and the Republicans as rightists.

Fascism is always described as far right when it should be described as far left because from its start in Italy and Germany socializing the economy was its intent. Communism until then claimed to be international not national. Stalin was a Georgian, not a Russian. The Communist party in Germany, in its struggle for power with the Nazis, which stands for national socialist party, argued that it was rightist. The notion that it was a rightist party was simply German Communist propaganda that intellectuals around the world bought hook, line, and sinker.  Mussolini had been a communist until he decided that the road to power was to nationalize socialism. National socialism in Germany and Italy wisely tolerated a large private sector because socializing the private sector would have brought disaster to their economies, resulting in the deaths of millions of people as it did in the USSR during its first two decades.

To be far right, one must be for minimum government. Authoritarianism is not rightist; it is leftist. Both Democrats and Republicans have since the 1930s have been increasingly interventionist with the consequent growth of government and its entry into areas where government has never gone before. Only the Tea Party Republicans oppose these tendencies. Perhaps it is time for three parties, including a conservative party on the right.  ...


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Continetti's The Case for Panic
Jesse Richman, 10/4/2014

Writing in The Washington Free Beacon, Matthew Continetti argued The Case for Panic in his October 3rd Column.  His equation for panic is given in the subtitle of the column: "Incompetent government + corrupt elite = disaster."

The first paragraph encapsulates his charge:

"Deadly, irrational, and determined, the intruder snuck across a weakened perimeter. Eluding capture, the intruder was detained only after missteps and close calls. The spin began soon after the threat was isolated. Information was selectively leaked. Half-truths and untruths were uttered. Responsibility was avoided; privileges and credentials asserted; authority reasserted. Trust us. Remain calm. Don’t panic."

It is then effectively applied to a series of recent cases including the White House fence jumping, the spread of Ebola to the United States, the mismanagement of Ukraine, the contradictory US policies toward the Islamic State, Syria, and Iraq. All of it is worth a read, but he leaves out some of the most important cases.

Critical among these omissions is the failure of America's elite to craft an effective -- and balanced -- trade policy over the last four decades, and the resultant destruction of much of U.S. industry, the hollowing out of the defense industrial base, and the undermining of the living standards of the American working class.  My coauthors and I make this case in our book Balanced Trade

He then turns to a brilliant but also limited diagnosis...


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The Sell-Out by American 'Thinkers'
Jesse Richman, 9/12/2014

 has an excellent follow-up in The New Republic to the New York Times' analysis of the role of foreign money in shaping the 'research' of Washington think tanks, the NYT investigation I discussed in my blog post yesterday. 

Judis connects the dots on foreign influence concerning U.S. trade policy...


Comments: 0

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  • [An] extensive argument for balanced trade, and a program to achieve balanced trade is presented in Trading Away Our Future, by Raymond Richman, Howard Richman and Jesse Richman. “A minimum standard for ensuring that trade does benefit all is that trade should be relatively in balance.” [Balanced Trade entry]

    Journal of Economic Literature:

  • [Trading Away Our Future] Examines the costs and benefits of U.S. trade and tax policies. Discusses why trade deficits matter; root of the trade deficit; the “ostrich” and “eagles” attitudes; how to balance trade; taxation of capital gains; the real estate tax; the corporate income tax; solving the low savings problem; how to protect one’s assets; and a program for a strong America....

    Atlantic Economic Journal:

  • In Trading Away Our Future   Richman ... advocates the immediate adoption of a set of public policy proposal designed to reduce the trade deficit and increase domestic savings.... the set of public policy proposals is a wake-up call... [February 17, 2009 review by T.H. Cate]