In response to last month’s news that U.S. Steel would be purchased by Japan-based Nippon Steel, a bipartisan group of senators—including Sherrod Brown (D–Ohio), John Fetterman (D–Penn.), Josh Hawley (R–Mo.), Marco Rubio (R–Fla.), and J.D. Vance (R–Ohio)—have condemned the decision. The three Republicans have gone a step further by formally asking the Biden administration to block the deal because it represents a supposed threat to national security. As a political matter, the reactions to the sale of U.S. Steel have served as a nice reminder that the impulse to intervene in the private affairs of publicly traded companies runs across both major parties.
As a matter of economic policy, however, those senators have completely missed the point. More government intervention is not going to save U.S. Steel. Indeed, decades of protectionist policies seem to have contributed to its downfall.
The idea that national security is threatened by Nippon’s purchase of U.S. Steel is utterly silly. And the associated idea that the federal government has failed to adequately cradle American steelmakers from foreign competition is simply false. Protectionism failed U.S. Steel by cushioning the company when it needed to innovate, and another round of federal intervention to prevent its sale makes no sense.
Colin Grabow highlights the cronyist Jones Act’s contributions to offshore wind difficulties. Here’s his conclusion:
The Jones Act has increased the cost and complexity of developing offshore wind while failing to spur the construction of WTIVs beyond a single costly and delayed vessel. For offshore wind developers, this has to be the worst of both worlds. But so long as Congress refuses to confront the maritime lobby, Jones Act‐induced hindrances will remain a feature of offshore wind farm construction.
Chicago suffers from a very high rate of violent crime. What’s the mayor to do? Easy — give money away to black residents to lower the racial wealth gap. That will settle all those criminals down.
I’m not making this up. Chicago’s mayor, Brandon Johnson, says he’ll hand out money (“reparations for slavery”) to blacks as a means of reducing violent crime. Hans Bader covers this absurdity for Liberty Unyielding.
He points out some glaring problems with this idea. There is no connection between poverty and crime. People don’t change their behavior when they receive windfalls. Paying out money based on race is unconstitutional.
The prescription should be clear, at Harvard and beyond. What has been happening on college campuses results from the failure of leaders to support traditional liberal values of free inquiry and debate. Prestigious institutions are racked with ideological protest from a contingent of students and many faculty who seem to care more about activism than learning. Despite the distraction, or worse, that this poses to good academic work, administrators keep flinching instead of drawing hard lines.
It’s time to try the opposite. Perhaps Larry Summers is available to give it another go.
Congratulations to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is succeeding at his goal of driving away fossil fuel investment and jobs, even while failing to reduce global CO2 emissions. See Chevron’s announcement Tuesday that it is writing down its upstream assets in the Golden State owing to “continuing regulatory challenges.”
Chevron’s write-down acknowledges what the company has been telling California lawmakers for some time: Their energy policies are making the state uninvestable. These include the state cap-and-trade program, low-carbon fuel standard, penalty on “excessive” refiner margins, and a 2022 law limiting new drilling within 3,200 feet of homes and schools.
California policies have made it “riskier than investing in other states, with projects being lower in quality and higher in cost,” Chevron’s Americas Products business president Andy Walz wrote last month in a filing with the California Energy Commission. “Chevron alone has reduced spending in California by hundreds of millions of dollars since 2022.”