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Richard Epstein rightly laments the ominous rise of protectionist sentiment across the political spectrum.  A slice:

Some people argue that displaced workers should receive job training programs or cash payments to ease their transition. But the former never work, and there is sensible resistance to the latter. And we never engage in these programs for loss of jobs from one state to another. There is, indeed, a third way to deal with this problem, which is not to assume that low rates of growth are a fixed fact of nature when they need not be. The best protection for the displaced tenant and worker is an open economy that offers multiple options for new housing and new jobs. But that won’t happen so long as we have national, state, and local policies that are protectionist to the core.

Ben Zycher adds his clear and principled voice to the battle against the idiocy and evils of protectionism.

Trump has argued repeatedly that “we don’t win any more” (whatever that means), and that we sell “practically nothing” to Japan and others, China and Mexico in particular. Really? U.S. exports to Japan in 2015 were $62.5 billion; for China and Mexico the respective figures were $116.2 billion and $236.4 billion. For advanced technology products, the respective U.S. export figures were $16.9 billion, $34.2 billion, and $40.3 billion, concentrated heavily in aerospace, information and communications, and electronics, among other sectors.

Now, Mr. Trump has decried bilateral trade deficits (buying more from a given country than they buy from us) continuously. That premise is fundamentally flawed: My wife and I buy all our groceries from the local supermarket, and we sell them nothing. So we have a large “bilateral trade deficit” with them; so what? Moreover, Trump has gone on to describe such deficits as “losses,” rhetoric that is particularly ridiculous: Does he believe that we send dollars to, say, China and receive nothing in return? Nor are total trade deficits a problem; if foreigners added together buy less from us than we buy from them, then the dollars that remain in their hands must be used to buy U.S. assets; that ultimately is the only possible alternative use. That is, those dollars must be used to invest in the U.S. Precisely how is that a problem?

My Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy weighs in on the Obama administration’s proposal of harmful overtime-pay regulations.  (Liya Palagashvili and I have a longer paper on this issue forthcoming in April.)

Like the results of elections (which are fora for people to express opinions freely – that is, cheaply), the results of surveys ought not be taken seriously as guides for public policy.  Ilya Somin offers a great example to support this conclusion.

I agree with Barry Brownstein: the last thing Americans need is a brilliant president.  (Give me a president who does nothing but sleep or play golf or womanize or gaze in fascination at his or her navel – anything other than butt into other people’s affairs.)

Richard Rahn explains that censorship has intensified under Obama’s reign.

George Selgin defends Adam Smith from a grotesque misreading.