Economic Freedom of the World – 2015

The latest edition of the report of economic freedom of the world is out. The most recent year for all data is 2015.

The U.S. ranks 11th, moving up from 16th from the previous two years.

Contrary to current political winds, free trade across borders is very important for prosperity.

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Let Democrats Make Case for GOP Tax Cuts

Huh? John Tamny starts off with a story about Kentucky Fried Chicken in Ghana:

“The food is just…When you taste it you feel good.” Those are the words of Daniel Awaitey, a 27-year old Ghanaian.  He was talking to New York Times reporters Dionne Searcey and Matt Richtel about his favorite restaurant in Accra, the capital city of Ghana.  That restaurant is Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

Me: Is this what Democrat’s mean by equality:

In a perfect world every American, and certainly every American politician, would read about Daniel Awaitey.  He comes from a country that’s long been defined by equality in the sense that most have been equally poor in ways that the most destitute Americans couldn’t reasonably comprehend.

Tamny quoting Jeffery Tucker on McDonalds:

[T]he original McDonald’s was just one branch in San Bernardino, and the founders were too narrow-minded, squeamish, and lacking in vision that the situation proved ripe for a go-getting promoter like Ray Kroc to come along and franchise the idea.”

Kroc saw global possibility where McDonald’s originators saw a small business serving a tiny portion of America’s population.  Thank goodness Kroc envisioned what no one did, and better yet, acted on it.  McDonald’s didn’t attain a $100 billion market capitalization by exploiting people as much it got that way by virtue of serving the needs of a world desperate for a taste of much more than American food.

How do these quotes fit into the tax cut issue? Find out Here.

 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and her 1% Wealth

WRKO radio host Jeff Kuhner confronting Sen. Warren (D, MA):

“You often say, and I agree with you, that the 99 percent are getting shafted by the 1 percent,” Kuhner told Warren as she shook her head in agreement. “Let me ask you this. A lot of people, especially my listeners, say you live in Cambridge. You have a $2 million mansion, plus you’re a multi-millionaire yourself. So how can you rail against the 1 percent, when you are and live like the 1 percent?”

Sen Warren dissembled on and on: “I wasn’t born in Cambridge, I was born into a family where my daddy worked one job after another and ended up as a janitor.” Blah, blah, blah.

Kuhner: “But you are part of the 1 percent?” the radio host persisted. “You are a multi-millionare and have a mansion in Cambridge, do you not? It’s worth north of $2 million.”

Warren: “I had opportunities because America invested in kids like me,” Warren said. “And that’s the reason I’m in public office, so I can make sure the next kid …” Blah, blah, blah.

Kuhner: “You mean the $350,000 for one course? Is that what you mean by opportunity, senator?”

 

Senator Elizabeth Warren Discovers Firms Try to Make Short-term Profits

Warren (D-MA) on James Cramer’s program on CNBC:

Few lawmakers had stronger words for Wells Fargo in the continued conflict surrounding the big bank’s malpractices than Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“This is a company that, from the very top, has made it clear there’s no accountability here,” the Democratic senator told “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

While Wells Fargo’s earnings remained intact, the bank is said to have pressured employees to open unauthorized accounts for customers, an issue that was recently found to have affected more customer accounts than previously thought.

“This is not about serving consumers,” Warren said. “This is all about, quarter by quarter by quarter, how to juice the reported profits. That’s what mattered at Wells Fargo.”

What a revelation! I’ll let you in on a little secret. Firms have plans to boost sales and profits in the long-term and medium-term as well as the short-term.

The Misguided Attacks on Amazon.com

Its happening again. A firm grows from a darling, often mentioned glowingly in the media, that benefits consumers into a large corporation that is harming employees and communities, etc. If you want a lower standard of living, stagnant economy, no new jobs, and no new products then have the government try to fix the problem. It will stifle the dynamism a prosperous society needs.

Some critics call low pricing ‘predatory pricing’, supposedly to conjure scary images of a ravenous wild animal looking for its next prey.

Take this article by a writer who trades for a living.

New firms often use low prices to build market share and to get their products into more hands. They burn through investor’s cash, pay their employees with some cash and either shares of stock or products or some other way to save the cash for investing in business growth. Amazon never changed course.

People made a similar case against Walmart years ago when it was taking market share from other retailers: its harming other retailers, killing jobs, putting mom-and-pop shops out of business, etc.

Well guess what? Now Walmart is competing against Amazon and other brick-and-mortar retailers and other e-commerce sites. No government action against Walmart was needed. Indeed, it would have been harmful to consumers, its suppliers, and its employees.

The people who work at Walmart and now Amazon are doing something extraordinarily well. They have a successful strategy and business model and are executing. Don’t get in the way. Its up to others to figure out how to leap-frog over them in the marketplace. Other business models and strategies will emerge even though we cannot foresee what that will be. In fact, that success only becomes known after the fact because the growth of the firm will make the news. It will have survived the initial response by Amazon, Walmart and other competitors.

Yet we benefit from their low prices. It makes our family budgets go farther. The employees of the firms harmed by these super successful firms need to turn inward to management to demand they get their act together, or welcome outside investors to maybe buy the firm and install new management with new ideas. Its new ideas, new management, new/outside capital, new strategy, new business model that leads to dynamic growth.

Now, if Amazon is using the government to enact specific laws that benefit it, like, say, Net Neutrality, then that law or regulation should be eliminated.

If you want to help these firms, stop encouraging politicians and regulators to take sides and trying  to solve this problem. Its not a solve-able problem and government is a poor mechanism to solve problems.

UPDATE: Amazon May Be the Next Tech Giant Muscling Into Health Care. That’s what American health care needs. Smart, successful people in the private sector to figure out how to improve a highly government-controlled industry.

Coal Industry in the U.S.

Salena Zito:

The Acosta Deep Mine in Somerset County marks a dramatic upturn for the area. And while President Trump cannot claim that he brought the industry back here personally (this new mine was already being developed before the election), he is an effective cheerleader for folks who’ve been discounted by the political elite.

Instead of trying to kill an industry under piles of regulations and poo-pooing any notions of its survival let along thriving, I think the government should lay off and let the people in the industry configure itself for the economy.

Maybe its smaller than in the past or maybe bigger, maybe more specialized, maybe more dispersed or stays concentrated in a geographic area. How do they compete and serve a customer base? What technologies can they use and invent, and what business processes can they use and invent? How do they attract capital?

These are questions for the people in the industry to figure out from the bottom-up, top-down, and inside-out, not from top-down impositions and elite opinion. And the people in this industry must do so in a free market environment.

Federal Community Development Block Grants Re-distribute Upwards

A perfect example of how government programs get re-directed to the well-connected. From Politico:

San Francisco will get $19-a-person in community development block grants this year, while Allentown, with twice the poverty and less than half of the median income, will draw a per-capita allotment of $17.53….Community development block grants rely on outdated, 1970s formulas that have increasingly shuttled dollars to wealthy places like Newton, Mass., while other locales in need, such as Compton, Calif., go wanting.

As Chris Edwards notes, it gets worse:

The federal aid system generates no net value—it is simply a roundabout way of funding local activities. Taxpayers in San Francisco mail checks to the IRS to fund the CDBG program. Their money flows through the HUD bureaucracy, and then is dished out to bureaucracies in Harrisburg and Allentown, with some trickling down to local residents and businesses. Meanwhile, taxpayers in Allentown are also mailing checks to the IRS to fund the CDBG program. Their money flows through the HUD bureaucracy, and then is dished out to bureaucracies in Sacramento and San Francisco, with some trickling down to local residents and businesses.

The Finale:

“The federal aid system thrives not because it benefits the American people, but because it benefits governments and lobbyists.”

Here.