Taking Free Trade for Granted

Here in the United States we take free trade for granted. We have access to markets throughout the world, but most of us think nothing of it. We have grown accustomed to the goods and services that make our life easier. Yet, in the Ukraine, access to free markets has been stomped on by Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, who has decided that forming a union with Russia is preferred over a relationship with the European Union. The result is that Ukrainians have taken to the streets in protest and imperiled their lives for the right to have access to free markets. They recognize that the Western world not only brings with it superior goods and services, they also see democracy in action, which terrifies the governments of Ukraine and Russia. We should not be surprised that news reports... Read More

Do Unions Really Care About Creating Jobs?

Trade unions are always proclaiming their mission is to save and create U.S. jobs. But if you have been paying attention to their actions, you would be hard pressed to see this philosophy in action. Jobs aren’t being created by unions — the opposite is occurring. That may explain why union membership has dropped to 6.6 percent of all workers, down from 35 percent in the mid-1950s. Even as the United States engages in important negotiations involving the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC), which could create millions of good-paying American jobs, the left, in a further appeasement of union demands, is trying to derail the U.S. role in the agreement. As a reminder, according to data from APEC, its members — including the United States and China, Russia, Mexico,... Read More

Capping CEO Compensation Is Dangerous

Professional sports players are usually paid based on performance. The better they play, the more money they make. In the business world, CEOs are typically compensated based on the performance of their company. The better the company performs, the more they are paid in salary and stock options. One big difference is that professional sports teams work with a salary cap, which determines how much money they can spend on their players. In the business world, most CEOs don’t have a salary cap (although some publicly traded companies have limits of executive compensation), so their salary and benefits reflect the profitability of the company. They are paid for their contributions. The story that is seldom told is that before CEOs make a lot of money, they had to build their company.... Read More

Take Away the Government’s Checkbook

I run a successful manufacturing and export business. My success depends on our ability to accurately cost the materials and services we consume. If my estimates are wrong, I won’t stay in business very long. Our government has no such apparent obligation. Our tax dollars are being wasted on projects that are so out of sync with accepted norms that one wonders who is involved in these decisions. I think we have to look at President Obama’s advisers, who have almost no business acumen or hands-on business experience. If they did, would they approve the $648 million website for Obamacare when its original budget was $93 million? The start-up costs for this website are greater than are the combined start-up costs for every major social media site, as well as sites like Amazon... Read More

A Wakeup Call to American Business

It’s hard to find any good news surrounding the government shutdown, especially since an estimate from Standard & Poor’s projected that the shutdown took $24 billion out of the U.S. economy and reduced projected fourth-quarter GDP growth from 3 percent to 2.4 percent. Yet, the shutdown appears to have had one positive effect: it awoke a sleeping giant — America’s business community, which has been sitting on the sidelines waiting for the right time to get back into action. That time may have come. Influential business organizations, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recognize that the Republican party can ill-afford to make another strategic blunder like the shutdown. Now they are ready to get re-engaged with the conservative GOP base that historically partnered... Read More

A Bill More Unpopular Than Obamacare Is

You don’t have to go too far to find someone vehemently opposed to Obamacare. What is new these days is that former enthusiastic supporters are now among its biggest critics. From business and union leaders to Republicans and Democrats, to conservatives and liberals, they all finally have something in common: they want Obamacare trashed. The last time a president introduced a bill this contentious was in 1969, when President Nixon had the distinction of introducing the $2.5 billion Family Assistance Plan (FAP), which was universally despised by virtually everyone. With the counsel of Urban Affairs Council Secretary Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Nixon created the FAP, which called for the replacement of bureaucratically administered programs such as Aid to Families with Dependent... Read More

Too Much War — Not Enough Trade

In my book, Conscientious Equity, I discuss the fact that when nations have free trade agreements with each other, they have historically not gone to war. Once the road for negotiations is open to trade, it remains open for other serious considerations. Equally important is that free trade agreements benefit not only businesses, but also a country’s entire population. Global trade leads to economic freedom, which helps address poverty and minimize corruption. So it was with great interest that I found a kindred spirit in Fred Smith, director of the Center for Advancing Capitalism at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. In an article for Forbes, he noted: “The announcement of a possible free trade agreement between the world’s two largest economies — the United... Read More

Is Caroline Kennedy the Best Choice for U.S. Ambassador to Japan?

President Obama recently announced the appointment of a completely unqualified Caroline Kennedy as U.S. ambassador to Japan. This is a mistake. If there ever was a time to have an experienced ambassador with solid credentials, it is now. The increasingly important Japanese market, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is the largest free-trade agreement in history, challenges posed by China, and a dangerous North Korea are a few of the issues Ms. Kennedy would face. Just as the U.S.-led effort to create the multilateral TPP is gaining traction, which would open Asia for U.S. exports and create millions of jobs, U.S. union autoworkers have started delivering to Washington petitions demanding trade concessions. This on the very day that Japan formally announced it will join the... Read More

We Ignore Japan at Our Peril

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the deepening rift between the United States and Japan, and the folly of appointing a completely unqualified Caroline Kennedy as the U.S. ambassador to Japan. If there ever was a time to have an experienced ambassador with solid credentials, it is now. Just as the U.S.-led effort to create the multi-lateral Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — the largest free-trade agreement in history — is gaining traction, which would open Asia for U.S. exports and create millions of jobs, U.S. union autoworkers have started delivering to Washington petitions demanding trade concessions. This on the very day that Japan formally announced it will join the TPP initiative, which would cover 40 percent of the global economy. Writing for The Wall Street Journal, William... Read More

Our Bundled Ambassadors

The way President Obama is handing out ambassadorships to big donors and bundlers, it’s like he’s channeling Oprah Winfrey. “And you get an ambassadorship, and you get an ambassadorship and you get an ambassadorship.” There certainly is a precedent for presidents bestowing ambassadorships on supporters, but they usually had some basic qualifications. Caroline Kennedy was recently named ambassador to Japan. Does she have any experience in international relations? No. Does she speak Japanese? No. Does she have any experience in trade relations, especially with a country like Japan, which is a key trading partner? No. As The Washington Post notes: “Japan is the world’s third-largest economy, an important U.S. ally that’s only getting more important... Read More