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Some Non-Covid Links

Colin Grabow explains how U.S. protectionism boosts Americans’ imports of energy from Russia. A slice:

As outrage mounts over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Americans may be chagrined to learn that despite being the world’s largest oil producer and a net exporter of petroleum products, the United States turns to Russia to help meet its energy needs. Indeed, imports of Russian petroleum products have averaged over 370,000 barrels per day over the last decade, and in 2020 Russia was the third‐​largest source of U.S. petroleum imports. But why? While a number of factors explain this phenomenon, part of the answer lies in protectionist U.S. policy. More specifically, the Jones Act.

Passed in 1920, the Jones Act restricts the domestic waterborne transport of goods to vessels that are U.S.-flagged, U.S.-built and mostly U.S.-crewed and owned. But such vessels are several times more expensive to build and operate than foreign ships, resulting in very high shipping rates. So high, in fact, that after factoring in the cost of Jones Act shipping it can often make more sense to buy products from distant countries rather than other parts of the United States—including petroleum.

Dorothy Chan explains why solar tariffs are a mistake. A slice:

In January 2018, President Trump imposed the solar tariffs, or Section 201 tariffs, at the behest of a few domestic solar manufacturers to “defend American workers…and businesses.” US solar manufacturers Suniva and SolarWorld filed a petition with the International Trade Commission (ITC), claiming that solar dumping was destroying the domestic solar industry. Following the ITC’s recommendation, Trump approved safeguard tariffs on solar modules and cells starting at 30%, decreasing annually by 5% for the next four years.

These tariffs targeted Asian manufacturers, specifically China. China dominates global solar cell and module supply chains in part because the Chinese government heavily subsidizes the industry, allowing Chinese firms to offer lower prices. American solar manufacturers claim that China’s predatory prices justify tariffs to level the playing field.

Four years later, as President Biden enters his second year in office, the argument for tariffs remains unchanged. In fact, the administration is following the ITC’s recommendation to extend tariffs as alleviatory measures because “domestic industry is making a positive adjustment to import competition.”

Neither domestic industry nor consumers have made a so-called “positive adjustment.” Rather, punitive solar tariffs are distorting company decision-making, harming consumers, and stunting the industry that it was intended to guard.

George Will documents the decline in Donald Trump’s influence within the GOP. A slice:

Trump failed in his attempt to boost his preferred Senate candidate in North Carolina, Rep. Ted Budd, by pressuring a rival out of the race. As of mid-January, Budd was trailing in the polls. Trump reportedly might endorse a second Senate candidate in Alabama, his first endorsement, of Rep. Mo Brooks, having been less than earthshaking. Trump has endorsed Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin in the gubernatorial primary against Gov. Brad Little. A poll published in January: Little 59 percent, McGeachin 18 percent. During Trump’s presidency, a majority of Republicans said they were more supporters of Trump than of the GOP. That has now reversed.

Nate Hochman reports on “the constitutional law professor who endorsed the deplatforming of Ilya Shapiro.”

Clifford Thies reflects on Newsweek‘s discovery of black conservatives.

Jeffrey Singer offers some bloody good advice.