Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Category: Economics

How the Left Should Think About Trade

As the Democratic primaries start to heat up, it’s become clear that Bernie Sanders wants to hit Joe Biden hard on trade:

When people take a look at my record versus Vice-President Biden’s record, I helped lead the fight against NAFTA–he voted for NAFTA. I helped lead the fight against permanent normal trade relations with China–he voted for it. I strongly opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership–he supported it.

Since 2016, American politics has focused quite heavily on immigration. It’s a much more visible issue than trade. Immigrants and refugees are physical people you can see, or even interview. The border is a place you can go, a wall is a physical thing that either gets built or it doesn’t. Some of us are friends of immigrants, some of us are immigrants, and all of us are descended from immigrants. Trade is different. The effects of trade are hard to see and hard to measure. You can see stuff in your local big box store stamped with “Made in China”, but otherwise trade doesn’t make itself obvious to you unless you’re one of the people who loses a job to outsourcing. So the mainstream press doesn’t write about trade very much, unless it’s implying that President Trump is going to visit unspeakable horrors on us through a trade war with China. Even the left press is typically quiet about it. This is a shame, because trade has much larger impacts on ordinary American workers than immigration does.

You can see the rest of this one over at Current Affairs:

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2019/05/how-the-left-should-think-about-trade

Trump’s Crummy Coal Bargain

The Trump administration has decided to reverse Obama-era coal regulations, increasing carbon emissions by a factor of 12 over the next decade. We all know that the Trump administration doesn’t believe in climate change, but what’s remarkable about the administration’s decision is that it’s incredibly bad value for money even on its own terms.

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The Left Wing Argument for Keeping Northern Ireland in the UK

As Britain marches ever closer to its date with Brexit destiny, I hear some people arguing that Brexit could lead to Irish reunification and that this would be a good thing. But if you evaluate the arrangement Northern Ireland has with the UK, it’s clear that it is in the material interest of the North Irish to remain. The UK gives Northern Ireland a very good deal, and it is highly unlikely that the Republic of Ireland would be able to offer a competitive package.

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Why It’s Hard to Calculate the Cost of Single Payer in the United States

Lately there has been some back and forth in the states over the expected cost of single payer healthcare. There is a lot of disagreement over how much single payer will cost because single payer grants the state a monopoly over the healthcare system. This means that the state can dictate how much it is going to pay its doctors, its administrators, its nurses, its drug and equipment manufacturers, and so on. Because the state can dictate the cost of single payer, the true cost of the proposal depends on how much the particular people implementing the proposal intend to spend.

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Comparing Keynesian Neocorporatism and Market Socialism

There is a lot of fuzziness and misunderstanding about what the left is trying to do, economically. A while back, I discussed some of the things which distinguish postwar liberals–who remain committed to reforming capitalism–from democratic socialists, who seek to one day abolish capitalism outright. Today I want to get into a bit more detail and discuss more precisely how these economic models work. The case I want to make to you is that despite what you may hear, the postwar liberals and democratic socialists have more overlap in their proposals than either side realises.

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