Although he’s not quite as Hayekian as I am, Jonah Goldberg writes profoundly about the source and nature of prosperity, and about political attitudes that undermine it.  (HT Richard Fulmer)  A slice:

This is why populism and nationalism, taken to their natural conclusions, always lead to statism. The state is the only expression of the national or popular will that encompasses everybody. So, the more you talk about how the fundamental unit of society is a mythologized collective called “The People” or the nation, the more you are rhetorically empowering the state.

Sure, the Constitution begins with the words “We the People,” but that is not a populist sentiment — it’s a statement of precedence in terms of authority: The people come before the government (not the European notion of the state). The spirit of the Constitution is entirely about the fact that The People are not all one thing. It places the rights of a single person above those of the entire federal government! It assumes not only that the people will disagree among themselves, but that the country will be better off if there is such disagreement. No populist frets about the tyranny of the majority. American patriots do. This may sound far afield, but it’s not. How we understand wealth reflects and informs how we understand politics and power — and vice versa. If you believe wealth resides in stuff and that stuff is finite — like oil under the ground or gold in the Lannister mines — then the state has a good case for figuring out how best to distribute it.

But if you recognize that humans create wealth with their brains and their industry and that it therefore belongs to them, you’ll be a little more humble about the state’s “right” to take as much as it wants to spend how it wants. Human ingenuity is the engine of wealth creation, and there is no other.

(For further evidence that Goldberg is correct that an ordinary orthodontist in Peoria in 2017 is arguably wealthier than was a billionaire in 1917, see here.)

My Mercatus Center colleague Dan Griswold argues that Trump’s vision of “economic security” threatens to make us less secure.  A slice:

The report fails to cite any evidence that U.S. trade with China or any other nation has weakened the overall U.S. economy. In fact, just about all economic analysis has concluded that trade has boosted U.S. economic growth and the real wages of the large majority of American workers. Yes, we would be better off if other nations reduced their barriers to trade further, but that is also true of the significant barriers our own government maintains against imports.

As for companies and jobs going overseas, the net flow of investment has actually been in the opposite direction in recent years. In recent years, the United States has been a net recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in manufacturing

Pierre Lemieux explains that globalization and free(r) trade make our Christmases merrier.  A slice:

International trade contributes mightily to the availability of affordable Christmas gifts. Consider China, the main bogeyman of today’s protectionists (it was Japan in the 1980s).

Because most of what Americans (like other advanced consumers) buy are services such as health, education, housing, and recreation, only 1.2% of their consumer expenditures go to producers in China. But the proportion is much higher in some categories of goods–notably furniture and household equipment, where 10.6% of American consumer expenditures go to Chinese producers, and clothing and shoes, where the proportion is 13.8% (according to researchers of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco). These goods with a high proportion of imports from China have shown substantial price cuts. From January 2001 (the year when China became a member of the World Trade Organization) through November 2017, furniture and bedding prices decreased by 17% in America, appliance prices by 22%, and apparel prices by 4%; during the same period, the total Consumer Price Index increased by 41%.

George Will hopes – and rightly so – that a pernicious labor-union tactic that is featured in a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court will be ruled unconstitutional.

Bloomberg calls for the Jones Act to be ditched.  (HT Tom Grennes)

Randy Holcombe ponders order versus justice.

Dan Sanchez warns against the herd mind.

Terry Anderson is always worth reading.  (HT Steve Pejovich)

Finally, many congratulations to the American people on having my Mercatus Center colleague Hester Peirce confirmed to be a Securities and Exchange Commission commissioner.  (Congrats also to Hester!)

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