≡ Menu

Some Links

Colin Grabow and Scott Lincicome, writing in the Wall Street Journal, explain that “protectionism kills U.S. merchant shipping.” Two slices:

We’re heartened that policymakers are finally paying attention to the U.S. commercial fleet’s long-term decline and its dire national-security implications. But for the most part they’ve ignored the sector’s heaviest policy anchor—protectionism. Almost since America’s founding, the federal government has relied on subsidies and protectionist laws to develop the maritime industry. Numerous such measures remain in place, including both the 1920 Jones Act’s prohibition on using foreign-built vessels to transport goods within the U.S. and a 50% tariff on foreign repair and maintenance.

These and related policies have failed to create a vibrant maritime sector and have instead degraded it by handing U.S. shipping and shipbuilding industries a captive domestic market and discouraging scale, efficiency, innovation and specialization. After more than two centuries of protectionism, the U.S. maritime sector has gone from being one of the world’s most competitive to one of the least.


For too long Washington has ignored the decline of the country’s maritime sector. Mounting international challenges have brought much-needed scrutiny and should prompt an overhaul of the country’s antiquated shipping policies. Any such effort must include the removal of protectionist measures that have long held the U.S. fleet back.

Stephanie Slade exposes the legerdemain of Oren Cass’s sophomoric assertion that government cannot avoid having an industrial policy. A slice:

But as the American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Strain put it during the American Compass event, “I don’t think it’s the case that all policy is industrial policy. Industrial policy is a set of policies that are designed to prop up a particular industry….Some people may think particular sectors are more important than others. I think a lot of people in this room probably think that manufacturing is particularly important…but let’s be clear: The absence of doing that is not itself an industrial policy.”

Set aside the semantics. There are, in fact, two broad visions on offer in this debate. One says that people should be as free as possible to make their own resource-allocation decisions, and markets should be allowed to sort things out from there. Economic winners and losers will emerge, but they won’t be “chosen.” The state’s role is to enforce the basic rules of the game, which apply to everyone equally, and it should never abuse its power by tilting the playing field to favor one team over another.

The other vision is one in which markets cannot be trusted to produce good outcomes, so government actors must step in and overrule them. The state isn’t a referee; it’s a mechanic, and subsidies and regulatory carve-outs are levers that can be pulled and tools that can be employed to fine-tune the economic machine in the best interest of society as a whole. Needless to say, there is a clear substantive difference between these libertarian and technocratic approaches.

Jay Nordlinger decries what has become of the American right. A slice:

At this year’s CPAC, Donald Trump said, “We have countries that honestly nobody has ever heard of.” What countries are those? Does he mean that he has never heard of them? He said, “We have languages coming into our country — we don’t have one instructor in our entire nation that can speak that language.” What languages are those?

Does it matter? Does anything Trump says, or does, matter? I know: “Shut up and think of Hunter’s laptop.” But the conservative movement can really do better than that. This was proven when WFB & Co. went about their work.

Also decrying what he correctly describes as “the moral rot of the American right” is Jonah Goldberg. Two slices:

On his way back from interviewing Putin and celebrating Russia’s superiority to America in a series of embarrassing videos about Moscow supermarkets and subways, [Tucker] Carlson appeared at a forum in Dubai. Asked why he hadn’t questioned Putin about the then-still-alive Navalny, Carlson shrugged, “Every leader kills people. Some kill more than others. Leadership requires killing people.” No doubt Putin agrees.


There are ample plausible criticisms of the legal cases against Trump, but even if you agree with all of them (I don’t), the notion that Joe Biden is the moral equivalent of Vladimir Putin is a slander, not merely of Biden but of America itself. Indeed, one reason we know it’s not true: Publicly criticizing Putin’s treatment of Navalny can land you in a Russian jail cell. Criticizing Biden’s (alleged) treatment of Trump can land you in a Fox News studio.

GMU Econ alum Paul Mueller writes about “the carbon offset dilemma.”

Art Carden asks if we should care if legacy media dies. A slice:

Yes, newspapers are an important part of our social fabric. So were horses and buggies, slide rules, and mud huts at various times. Just because newspapers may vanish doesn’t mean that we will be worse off. A free society is a society characterized by creative destruction. It is just as true for media as for any other good.

Jai Kedia notes an interesting irony.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board rightly criticizes the FTC’s attempt to block the merger of Kroger with Albertsons. A slice:

U.S. antitrust policy is a politicized mess, and for the latest example look at the Federal Trade Commission’s vote Monday to challenge supermarket Kroger’s $24.6 billion acquisition of Albertsons. It’s a giant gift to Amazon, Walmart and other grocery retailers.

It’s hard to think of a more competitive business than groceries. Traditional supermarkets have been squeezed from all directions. Most Americans shop and buy food and household products from a variety of sources, including dollar stores, farmers markets, big-box retailers and online delivery services.

Competition has driven hundreds of supermarket stores to close in recent years. The Kroger-Albertsons merger is intended to make the two more competitive by increasing their leverage with suppliers and making their supply chains more efficient.