EconLog’s David Henderson highlights some parts of Donald Trump’s recent talk at FreedomFest – a talk that features some of the most asininely stupid statements that a human being can possibly make about the economy. Here’s my “favorite” from that bloviating ignoramus (an apt descriptor that I steal from George Will):
The biggest boats I’ve ever seen, I just left Los Angeles, thousands of cars, millions of cars coming in [from Japan.] We get nothing. We get cars. They get . . . We want to send rice, we want to send corn. . . . The imbalance of these things. They send a car. We send corn.
(In fairness to Trump, he did nothing more here than express in stark form the standard mercantilist belief held by 99 percent of politicians, pundits, and the general public. It’s the belief that the true object of trade is to get from foreigners as much money as possible while spending as little money as possible buying foreign-made products; it’s the belief that the getting of goods such as cars and textiles and industrial chemicals from foreigners is the unfortunate cost that domestic citizens must bear in order to enjoy the splendid and enriching privilege of shipping ever more goods and services abroad in return for precious metals, Federal Reserve Notes, euros, yuan, and other media of exchange. It’s a belief that everyone with even a tiny inkling of how to think correctly about the economy rejects in toto and without qualification.)
Speaking of Trump’s speech at FreedomFest, Reason’s Matt Welsh is among the many people who were horrified by it. A slice:
This is the single dumbest speech I have witnessed in 17 years of covering American politics. Not just the lies, the policy positions (such that they existed), or even the dizzying heights self-regard, but the level of basic human intelligence and decency. For a guy who complains that the media only quotes “half-sentences,” Trump’s real adversary is the full-length transcript. These aren’t speeches, they’re seizures.
I just heard Trump speak live. The speech lasted an hour, and my jaw was on the floor most of the time. I’ve never before witnessed such a brazen display of nativistic jingoism, along with a complete disregard for economic reality. It was an awesome experience, a perfect repudiation of all good sense and intellectual sobriety.
Yes, he is against the establishment, against existing conventions. It also serves as an important reminder: as bad as the status quo is, it could be worse. Trump is dedicated to taking us there.
Reihan Salam explains what Hillary Clinton gets wrong about infrastructure. (HT Tyler Cowen) A slice:
The chief problem with our airports is not (pace Larry Summers) that they’re not as sleek and modern as the vast white elephants you’ll find in East Asia. Rather, it is that they are congested, and the reason they are congested is that the federal government doesn’t provide for market-rate pricing for take-off and landing slots. This straightforward reform would greatly increase the productivity, not to mention the pleasantness, of our aviation system. Yet it doesn’t involve spending billions of dollars and cutting ribbons, so politicians are by and large not interested.
But, here’s what the hawks need to grok: America might be the lone superpower right now, but it does not have God-like powers to command the world to its will. Hence, if preventing — or slowing — Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon is a worthy goal, then a less-than-perfect deal is better than no deal — because the alternatives are worse.