Greece, Puerto Rico and Illinois Linked by Similarities

Before this year, nobody would have mentioned Greece, Puerto Rico and Illinois in the same breath. At one time they had little in common. Now they are linked by failed economies. The modern Greek state, which was established in 1830 following the war of independence from the Ottoman Empire, traces its roots to the civilization of Ancient Greece some 4,000 years ago. Illinois became the 21st State on Dec 03, 1818. As a result of the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States on December 10, 1898 along with Guam and the Philippines. Each has failed to sustain an economy that could protect its citizens. They are unable to create enough good paying jobs while letting pensions and entitlements spiral out of control. Debt has piled up to unimaginable levels. The “official”... Read More

Harry Reid’s Loss Is Free Trade’s Gain

Perhaps the most valuable outcome of the midterm election is that it allows Republicans to remove Harry Reid, D-Nev., from his post as Senate Majority Leader, or as I have dubbed him, “Chief Bottleneck for Free Trade.” With his demotion, his ties to labor unions can be minimized, which means that America can earnestly negotiate free trade agreements. This comes at an important time. President Obama is in Asia to participate in discussions about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would support economic growth and jobs by removing trade barriers for goods and services, improving intellectual property protection and creating new 21st century trade rules. The United States and 11 other countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru,... Read More

Trade Subsidies Erode Trade Agreements

Free trade, by its very nature, is based on the ability of nations and companies to sell goods and services at a fair price without undue interference. When trade is conducted freely and fairly, there’s a level playing field and everybody can prosper. But once government subsidies get involved, the level playing field starts to slant. Seton Motley, executive director of Less Government, was a guest recently on my Made in America radio show, and he maintained that American trade policies, especially subsidies, are ripping off taxpayers and boosting the price of food in the U.S. and around the world. He contends that governments raise the prices of everything we try to buy. They do so indirectly — via hidden costs of government we can’t clearly see. As a result of subsidies... Read More

Lack of Confidence in Obama’s Handling of Ebola Could Sicken Economy

As the stress level for Americans rises because of the known cases of Ebola in the U.S., it takes me back to November 2002 when I was often visiting and working in Hong Kong. That’s when an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) broke out in the Guangdong province of China, which borders Hong Kong. Little was known about SARS, and it didn’t help that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) discouraged its press from reporting on SARS and lagged in informing the situation to the World Health Organization (WHO) for four months. In the meantime, when the PRC did report the SARS outbreak, it only reported 305 cases, when in fact there were more than 800 known cases. And when a WHO team travelled to Beijing, it was not allowed to visit the Guangdong province... Read More

Disrespecting Business Success Goes Global

I thought that America under the Obama administration was the only government that actually tries to prevent businesses from making money. Through an onerous tax system, oppressive regulations, an ill-conceived energy policy and a lack of banking options, American entrepreneurs are castigated for succeeding and making a profit. The exceptions, of course, are companies that give big donations to Obama’s Democratic Party. But China has mastered the art of not only diminishing successful companies, but also jailing their owners. A small news item in The Wall Street Journal notes that “it’s gotten so bad, that 30 Chinese officials, including managers of state-owned enterprises, are known to have committed suicide this year.” There is a belief that once a company starts... Read More

In Defense of the Ex-Im Bank

The good news is that it looks like the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank will be reauthorized for the short term. The bad news is that it is widely misunderstood, to the detriment of small businesses and entrepreneurs. To complicate things the Ex-Im Bank is a misnomer. It has nothing to do with imports and is not a bank. It provides loan guarantees to private banking institutions on behalf of American exporters. It also provides credit insurance. Everything it does, it does so at market rates. It generates a profit. Imagine for a moment any federal agency generating a profit for the taxpayer? This is needed because private American financial institutions will not collaterize foreign receivables or inventory. Without this, legions of small businesses and entrepreneurs that want to export their... Read More

Obama Needs to Lift Crude Oil Export Ban This Year

University of Texas’ annual energy poll found that 58 percent of Americans incorrectly thought that America’s major source of foreign oil is Saudi Arabia and another 15 percent say it’s Iraq. The truth, of course, is that America’s biggest oil suppliers is Canada, which provides 28 percent of U.S. oil imports. If you add in Mexico and Venezuela, that number goes up to 50 percent. How much oil do we actually get from the Middle East? Saudi Arabia and Iraq provide just 22 percent of U.S. oil imports. This misperception dates back to the 1973 oil embargo by OPEC, when U.S. drivers waited in long lines for gasoline. This isn’t likely to happen again. The reason is that the United States has been moving to self-sufficiency for many years, and today, U.S. field... Read More

Our Broken Immigration Program Stems From a Broken Trade Policy

The flood of refugees into the United States is not only a sign of a failed immigration policy, but of a trade policy that ignores the underlying reason for this humanitarian crisis. Robert Zoellick, who served as president of the World Bank, U.S. trade representative and deputy secretary of state, recently wrote an Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal in which he maintained that if President Obama had been paying closer attention to Central America, he could have stemmed the tide of immigrants seeking the security of the United States. Zoellick reminded readers that when President Clinton and the Republican Congress launched Plan Colombia in the late 1990s, it helped set that country on the road to stability by stamping out the violence that was tearing the country apart due to terrorism... Read More

China’s Real Intentions Toward America

These days, America competing with China is like an American runner competing against a Chinese runner, except that the American runner has to carry an anvil. It may be against the rules, but there’s little anyone can do about it. The Chinese have the advantage. But let’s not delude ourselves about China’s aims. China want to surpass the United States as the world’s leading economy. And they want to replace the dollar with the yuan as the world’s preferred currency. They are making progress in both areas. So it’s not surprising that during the recent annual U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue, China was not in the mood to compromise on anything. Although they did agree with passing something against wildlife trafficking, which is a nice idea,... Read More

Rail Dispute Over Keystone Pipeline Follows a Long Tradition of Cronyism

Our nation’s railroad system has always been a source of pride. It helped America expand from coast to coast, and by 1860, nearly every major city was linked by rail. In addition, most farms were within five miles of a rail line so they could ship produce and livestock. Yet, with this growth has come a long history of cronyism connected to the nation’s rail system. We usually recall fondly the golden spike that marked the First Transcontinental Railroad across the United States, which connected the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads. What gets glossed over is that railroad companies were given taxpayer-funded government bonds and enormous tracts of land with which to build. Then, much like today, they hired lobbyists to ensure that in exchange for votes, politicians... Read More