The popularity of free trade has been growing in both parties in the past year. A surprising article in yesterday’s Washington Post reports that “Free trade is becoming more popular — especially among Republicans.” Although a single poll can be misleading, “both Gallup and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found an increase in support for trade support from 2016 to 2017.”
China and the WTO
President Trump has despaired of getting help from the World Trade Organization (WTO) to deal with US complaints of China’s mercantilist policies disadvantaging US trade with China. But both the US and Europe have an extremely powerful lever that can be used to modify China’s unacceptable trade behavior — or exclude it from WTO trade benefits that China craves to enjoy. The issue is market economy status. China is presently classified as a non-market economy (NME), and both the US and European Union (EU) want to keep it that way, much to China’s anger. But the NME classification is accurate. As a US Commerce Department memo explains:
“[T]he state’s role in the economy and its relationship with markets and the private sector results in fundamental distortions in China’s economy….
“At its core, the framework of China’s economy is set by the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which exercise control directly and indirectly over the allocation of resources through instruments such as government ownership and control of key economic actors and government directives. The stated fundamental objective of the government and the CCP is to uphold the ‘socialist market economy’ in which the Chinese government and the CCP direct and channel economic actors to meet the targets of state planning. The Chinese government does not seek economic outcomes that reflect predominantly market forces…. [S]tate planning through industrial policies conveys instructions regarding sector-specific economic objectives, particularly for those sectors deemed strategic and fundamental.”
China is suing to overturn its NME classification. If the WTO rules in its favor, that will almost certainly be the end of the WTO, at least with respect to US membership and perhaps also the EU.
Blue-collar wages rising
“Blue-collar wages are surging” in the US, The Economist reports. “Strong demand, rather than a productivity boom, is driving the scramble for workers….One reason is a cheapening dollar….A weaker dollar and a strengthening world economy have spurred demand for American goods….If these trends continue, higher wages may begin to tempt more men, who dominate blue-collar occupations, to look for jobs…Whether male participation improves may depend on whether men are prepared to up sticks and move to where the labour market is booming.”
Gropergate scandals, Franken, Anita Hill, rigged elections
Just when you thought that Gropergate scandals would, like the NFL kneeling controversy, lose interest for both the public and media, along came a well-documented scandal involving Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken. Stung by charges of hypocrisy in not condemning Bill Clinton for far worse behavior when he was president, Frankengate is receiving more than usual mainstream media coverage.
In trying to deflect the import of the Franken scandal, some Progressive media have tried to revive accusations by Anita Hill against Justice Clarence Thomas. But Powerline shows from Anita Hill’s own statements that her political attitude toward the accused seems to be her main criterion, not the truth. (For an excellent profile on Justice Thomas, who happily survived the media and Anita Hill smears, see this City Journal piece.)
But the real Franken scandal is his 2009 vote-fraud-based installation in the Senate. This was but one of many maneuvers by Democrats to install their candidates in the 2008 elections. Another was the Justice Department’s indictment of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens in October 2008, which resulted in his defeat by the Democratic candidate. It was later revealed that the Justice Department had illegally concealed from Stevens evidence that would have exonerated him. Justice Department corruption, in short, didn’t just start recently with James Comey and his pals in the Department.
But for those two dishonest efforts to stack the Senate with extra Democrats, the Democrats would not have had the 60-senator filibuster-proof majority that enabled them to pass Obamacare.