If Trade Surpluses are So Great, the 1930s Should Have Been a Booming Decade: "The incessant fretting over the U.S. trade deficit is unwarranted. As I point out (probably too) often, the trade deficit, along with its broader cousin, the current-account deficit, are no cause for concern. Earlier today I visited the National Bureau of Economic Research's Macrohistory Database. I clicked on Chapter 7 and then looked at the value of U.S. imports and the value of U.S. exports for each of the 120 months during the 1930s. Turns out that for only 18 of the 120 months of that dreary decade did the United States run a trade deficit (that is, imported more, value-wise, than it exported). For each of the remaining 102 months of the decade of the 1930s the U.S. ran a trade surplus."
Farm subsidy stupidity: ""The very policies touted by Congress as a way to save small family farms are instead helping to accelerate their demise, economists, analysts and farmers say. That's because owners of large farms receive the largest share of government subsidies. They often use the money to acquire more land, pushing aside small and medium-size farms as well as young farmers starting out."
The corn is as high as the subsidy's aye: "The price of corn shot up during the last months of 2006. Corn sold for $2 per bushel at the beginning of 2006, and by the end of the year, the price had zoomed to $3.75. It's not that folks are eating more corn on the cob. The rising demand has come from the increased production of ethanol, the ethyl alcohol fuel made from corn. The higher corn price affects all uses of corn, so the cost of food will also be rising. Chicken, pork, and beef will become more expensive, as well as corn for eating by human beings. Stock up on canned corn while it is still relatively cheap. Corn is also made into a syrup that is used to sweeten food and drinks, so those prices will also be rising. So what about the ethanol? Will fuel made from corn reduce dependency on oil and reduce air pollution? Or is it a subsidy due to the political clout of corn farmers?"
More government follies: ""Politicians . . . have joined a host of interest groups from across the political spectrum that are pressing for changes in government assistance to agriculture. They want the money moved from large farmers to conservation, nutrition, rural development and energy research. Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, for example, favors programs that improve environmental practices on farms." [Why can't the government just get out of farming? The Soviets showed how wise about farming governments are]
Nike Ends Labor Contract with Supplier Over Child Labor Concerns: "By severing its contract with Saga, Nike is likely to score moral points with its customers in the West. But it's also likely, observers agree, to sink Saga, a corporate giant that makes about 6 million of Pakistan's annual production of 40-million soccer balls. Saga estimates that as many as 20,000 families could be affected, since 70 percent of the local market relies on them for work."
Bad politics at a minimum: "It's a cliche of politics that the name of a proposed bill or initiative depends largely on its name. (More on this later.) It's also a cliche now that free market advocates expecting Republicans to control the growth of government shows the triumph of hope over experience, but these days the Bush Administration doesn't seem to even pretend to fight. On Wednesday, the President announced that he would support a hike in the federal minimum wage ..."
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