2020 Election, Antitrust & Trade Regulation, Domestic Policy, Immigration, International Trade, Politics

An American Nationalist Voting Index – The Square Deal

This is part of a series examining the issues in the presidential election. To see other articles in the series, click on the “2020 Elections” link on the Home page

Score

Biden -.5   Trump +2

Roosevelt’s commitment to the working man was born of two incidents of violence in his life that challenged his fundamentally conservative impulses. The first was the assassination of President William McKinley by an anarchist, which led to Roosevelt’s succession to the presidency. The anarchists were the Antifa/Islamic terrorists of their time and arose out of the economic inequality and discontent that were byproducts of the Industrial Revolution. The second was his service with the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American war.  TR saw bravery in both poor cowboys and privileged Northeastern elite in the charge up San Juan Hill and believed their government owed them a “square deal” for that bravery, which he defined as follows:

But when I say am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service.

At the same time, he expected the average worker to respond by contributing to his family, community and country, not simply demanding a handout from the government.

In today’s economy, we need to change the rules on economic concentration, trade and immigration to give American workers a real chance to achieve the American Dream of stable and independent financial security. Biden and Trump have verifiable records with successes and failures on these issues.  

Antitrust Law

The abuses of Big Tech have revived interest in antitrust policy and exposed its deficiencies in today’s world economy.  The problem lies in the fact we are still trying to regulate these 21st century monopolies using 19th century laws.  We learned in the 2008 financial crisis that allowing companies to become “too big to fail” created a new form of monopoly rents by allowing elites to privatize profits while socializing their risk of loss.  Meanwhile, Big Tech was finding new ways to leverage customer data to monopolize the Internet advertising and product sales market.  

The Trump Administration’s challenge to the ATT-Time Warner merger attempted to build a case against bigness itself by attacking vertical mergers.  Unfortunately, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the merger on the grounds it created useful efficiencies, which completely misses the point. They also recently filed a lawsuit against Google over their use of their monopoly power over Internet searches to raise advertising prices. However, Trump failed to pursue modernization of the antitrust laws themselves. Despite this failure, these two innovative suits earn Trump a + .5.

The Obama Administration also had an active antitrust docket and challenged several mergers with limited success.  The losses in both the Obama and Trump Administrations emphasize the need for a modernization of the rules. The Democratic House just released a comprehensive report on Big Tech’s abuses of their market power that could serve as a start for a re-tooling of the statutes. All of this suggests Biden should be given a +.5 on the issue  as well.

Trade

Protecting America and its workers from unfair international trade practices has been an area where the Trump Administration has shined.  They understand the importance of a strong manufacturing sector and have not subjugated American policy to the slow and sometimes hostile mechanisms of the World Trade Organization.  Alan Tonelson of RealityChek has pointed out that the tariffs against China and others have not prevented the manufacturing sector form succeeding during the pandemic without a loss of jobs (see his post from October 19). At the same time, the administration preserved the strategically important partnership between the US, Canada, & Mexico by concluding the U.S.- Mexico-Canada Agreement. Trump deserves a +1 for these achievements.

Biden’s record and positions are almost the polar opposite. He wants to return to the multilateral approach, ignoring America’s unique great power interest in preserving its internal economic strength.  However, he has also said he would relax the Chinese tariffs gradually and only upon concessions from the Chinese. Biden says he would prioritize developing an international coalition to challenge Chinese state capitalism as well.  The latter positions reduce his negative score to a -.5. 

Immigration

Trump’s’ actions to restrict illegal immigration have been divisive, haphazard and often poorly justified on ethnic nationalist grounds. However, they have changed the dynamic and started to limit the use of immigrant workers to compete with Americans (see my post “Immigration – The New Slavery).  However, Trump failed to seize the opportunity to pass comprehensive immigration legislation when he had a Republican Congress.  Because of this failure, he deserves only a +.5 on the issue.

Biden and the Democrats have understandably concentrated on the necessity of legalizing immigrants that have been here for years. They then oppose any real future controls on immigration and would expand the number of HIVB-style visas, thus allowing big companies to use foreign workers to continue to pay substandard wages.    As a result, they deserve a -.5 on this issue.  

Conclusion  

Many other changes in the rules of the game are necessary to give American workers the economic opportunities they deserve.  Mere income redistribution is not enough.   Americans simply want their government to give them a fair chance to compete and contribute; in short, the square deal that TR believed in and for which he fought.

Antitrust & Trade Regulation, Domestic Policy, International Trade

Building American National Security and Good Jobs

No [tariff] duty should be permitted to stand as regards any industry unless the workers receive their full share of the benefits of that duty. In other words, there is no warrant for protection unless a legitimate share of the benefits get into the pay envelope of the wage-worker.

Acceptance  Speech to the Progressive Party Convention, August 6, 1912

Reshoring manufacturing and vital supply chains after decades of neglect was always going to be a difficult process.   This article is a good primer on how to do it and the kinds of issues that must be addressed to harden our economy against shocks like COVID-19.  Trade agreements that prevent us from favoring local production may have to be abrogated and domestic policies that empower workers will be necessary to prevent the benefits from flowing primarily to Wall Street rather than workers.  The article also proposes some radical changes in labor relations to achieve this goal, but minimizes or misses two other necessary policy changes. 

We learned in the aftermath of FDR’s New Deal that protected industries can easily slide into anti-competitive practices that create monopolies.  The article advocates direct regulation rather than reviving antitrust laws to prevent this, which was actually the approach TR took in his New Nationalism speech in 1913. However, the 2008 financial crisis showed us behind-the-scenes regulation can be captured and then neutered by the very industries it is trying to control.  New and robust antitrust laws enforceable in the courts would add transparency to the process of controlling this market power.

The article also fails to mention the importance of education and training.  As the author points out, the jobs of the future will require high-level technical skills to create the kind of superior products that command correspondingly high salaries. All levels of government should increase their support for the community colleges and quality vocational tech schools that will be required to provide the necessary training.  In the end, our education system and employers will need to develop lifelong learning mechanisms to keep American workers competitive with the rest of the world’s workers. 

Americans have the talent. They just need a government that will give them the skills and the opportunity to succeed.     

Antitrust & Trade Regulation, Domestic Policy, Uncategorized

Welcome to Alan Tonelson

I value and thank all of you who are following New Nationalism whether on this site, the New American Nationalism Facebook page or my Twitter account (see links below). Today, I want to highlight one new follower who brings significant expertise to our debate. Alan Tonelson worked with a number of think tanks over the last 30 years and is a former associate editor of Foreign Policy magazine. His particular expertise is in trade, manufacturing and economics. He is the author of “The Race to the Bottom”, a book chronicling the effects of the hollowing-out of our manufacturing capacity published back in 2002. Alan operates his own weblog called RealityChek at the link below. I expect to rely on his past and future work on the effect of offshoring and unfair trade agreements on American national security, jobs and the economy.

Thanks and I look forward to hearing from all of you during the course of this important discussion!

https://alantonelson.wordpress.com