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 Richmans' Trade and Taxes Blog



How we settle problems in the United States -- my recent op-ed in Virginian Pilot
Jesse Richman, 11/28/2018

My recent op-ed for the Virginian Pilot has reached more than 15 thousand shares on Facebook.  Here are the first few paragraphs:

RECENT EVENTS have made heartrendingly clear that some people who pretend to be my fellow Americans haven’t the foggiest idea of the most basic principles on which our experiment in self-government rests. Their vicious actions of hate demonstrate that they do not understand how we settle problems around here.

These are passionate times we live in. And that passion has at times inspired the worst to do their worst. Some people confuse harassment and shout-downs for debate. Others “go in” for vicious violence, shooting innocent worshipers, concert and club goers, or members of Congress. Or they deliver bombs to the doorsteps of former presidents and the politically active. They demonstrate that they have forgotten the fundamentals of what it means to be an American.

Lest we let their hate breed more of the same evil, perhaps we all need to take a deep breath and remember these principles.

Disagreement is fundamental to democracy. It is inevitable that with more than 300 million of us, we won’t always see problems or their solutions the same way. We will disagree. Sometimes fundamentally. Sometimes passionately. But we do not let disagreement become hate.

Fundamental to democracy is the way we resolve these disagreements. We talk about them. If you think I am wrong, you are welcome to work to persuade others that I am wrong. You might even persuade me, for which I will thank you. We debate. We deliberate.

To read the rest of the essay, follow the link to https://pilotonline.com/opinion/columnist/guest/article_df3d1014-e39b-11e8-9db2-efca95e310de.html.

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Robert Skidelsky on the case for compensated free trade
Jesse Richman, 11/16/2018

According to his Project Syndicate biographical sketch, Robert Skidelsky is "Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University and a fellow of the British Academy in history and economics, is a member of the British House of Lords. The author of a three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes, he began his political career in the Labour party, became the Conservative Party’s spokesman for Treasury affairs in the House of Lords, and was eventually forced out of the Conservative Party for his opposition to NATO’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999."

Skidelsky's latest column for Project Syndicate is a tour-de-force summation of the trade challenge and the appropriate solution -- a mechanism to automatically shift trade towards balance.  The column can be read at https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/compensated-free-trade-allows-protectionism-by-robert-skidelsky-2018-11.

He begins by framing the issue as follows: 

According to Harvard’s Dani Rodrik, the nation-state, democracy, and globalization are mutually irreconcilable: we can have any two, but not all three simultaneously. In fact, there may be a solution to Rodrik's “trilemma.” 

And that solution in Skidelsky's view is compensated free trade.

The scaled tariff is a similar mechanism and would also achieve the same end, albeit in some what different ways....

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Doing the Right Thing on Trade
Jesse Richman, 11/15/2018

The Trump Administration is right to pursue a policy aimed at addressing the trade deficits faced by the US around the world.  But the current policies are having only limited effect on the overall US trade deficit -- so far more than counterbalanced by the consequences of the tax cuts and higher interest rates which have pushed the dollar higher and kept imports cheap.  

The right approach going forward is to begin moving towards what Frank Kirkland calls a "closed loop" approach to the trade balance, or what Masch calls Compensated Free Trade, what we have termed the Scaled Tariff, or the country-specific import certificates.  This is particularly crucial because at some point, whether in 2021 or 2025, the Trump Administration will leave office.  And the advocates for Trump's trade policies...

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Another Economist Discovers the Scaled Tariff -- A new and perhaps more marketable name too
Jesse Richman, 11/14/2018

Vladimir Masch first presented his idea similar to our scaled tariff idea back in 2004.  He gave it a more marketable name though -- Compensated Free Trade of CFT for short.  We seem to have been working in parallel for much of the last decade and a half without knowing of each other's work. 

...

A good idea who's time has come will be invented simultaneously or sequentially by many authors.  So far we know of three groups who independently developed it: the Richmans, Masch, and Frank Kirkland. Warreb Buffet also came up with a related approach. This is an idea who's time has come.  

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    Wikipedia:

  • [An] extensive argument for balanced trade, and a program to achieve balanced trade is presented in Trading Away Our Future, by Raymond Richman, Howard Richman and Jesse Richman. “A minimum standard for ensuring that trade does benefit all is that trade should be relatively in balance.” [Balanced Trade entry]

    Journal of Economic Literature:

  • [Trading Away Our Future] Examines the costs and benefits of U.S. trade and tax policies. Discusses why trade deficits matter; root of the trade deficit; the “ostrich” and “eagles” attitudes; how to balance trade; taxation of capital gains; the real estate tax; the corporate income tax; solving the low savings problem; how to protect one’s assets; and a program for a strong America....

    Atlantic Economic Journal:

  • In Trading Away Our Future   Richman ... advocates the immediate adoption of a set of public policy proposal designed to reduce the trade deficit and increase domestic savings.... the set of public policy proposals is a wake-up call... [February 17, 2009 review by T.H. Cate]