Although Trump’s supporters sometimes claim that the president is actually pursuing a radical free-trade agenda and only using protectionist tactics to achieve it, the USMCA is strong evidence that Trump would prefer to see more barriers to trade.
For example, the administration pushed for the inclusion of stricter rules that make it more difficult for cars and car parts to cross national borders duty-free. Under the USMCA, 75 percent of the component parts of vehicles would have to be produced in North America to avoid tariffs, and 40 percent would have to be built by workers earning at least $16 an hour—effectively putting a minimum wage on Mexican manufacturing plants with lower wages.
I don’t know if you have seen The Invention of Lying. In the movie Ricky Gervais lives in a world where nobody ever lied; he is the first who come up with the idea and builds his success on it. It seems to me that Mazzucato may star in a similar movie, The Invention of Government [which is the title of her latest book]. Her narrative that we socialize risk but never properly compensate governments fits very well a world where taxation does not exist. Sadly, that is not the world we live in.
It is a misstatement to call what is going on now an American revolution. The Declaration’s revolution was about creating a new nation. Today’s claimants see the future as de novo, a blank slate, an exercise in elimination. It is closer to what the ever-ironic 1960s radical anarchist Abbie Hoffman called “revolution for the hell of it.”
Nor did the slave trade fund the industrial revolution. Leading economic historian Deirdre McCloskey explains that the slave trade, and the goods produced by slaves, were a tiny portion of foreign trade in Britain. Additionally, slaves were not passive: From Jamaica to St Dominique they rebelled against their masters. Quashing these rebellions was not cheap. More broadly, McCloskey argues that the industrial revolution was spurred by domestic innovations and not trade or minuscule imperialist returns.