Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Sat, 18 Jan 2020 09:02:21 -0800 Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate 1d49e47ed678e75d079ba6e72ba8f923 Social Engineering Run Amok in the Department of Labor for 01/16/2020 Thu, 16 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>A few years ago, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released two reports detailing enforcement and litigation abuses by the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, or OFCCP. Instead of holding firms accountable when they engage in real discrimination against their employees, the agency has become a government arm for securing high-dollar settlements on dubious grounds.</p> <p>Congress has not moved to rein in this abuse, though that may change if one of the few companies that are finally standing up to the agency prevails against its abuser.</p> <p>Created by a Lyndon Johnson-era Executive Order 11246, OFCCP enforces the federal government's affirmative action and anti-discrimination mandates on federal contractors. It typically does so through routine audits, which are often fishing expeditions. The behavior of its auditors has been widely criticized for decades. Complaints include allegations of arbitrary and abusive exercises of power, waste of resources and intimidation. There's no good excuse for this type of bullying by a government agency.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 16, 2020</p> 09a9dd18bbe24f93ccb4233ed689b415 Once Again, Government-Subsidized Projects Fail to Deliver for 01/09/2020 Thu, 09 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>In June 2018, President Donald Trump attended the groundbreaking ceremony for a Foxconn factory in Wisconsin. Ever exuberant in his comments, he called the project the "eighth wonder of the world" and "one of the great deals, ever." Always a bragger, his praise was directed at himself for orchestrating the use of state subsidies and tax credits to bring the Taiwanese multinational electronics company to Wisconsin for it to manufacture high-resolution LCD screens.</p> <p>To make this deal happen, the state legislature offered a subsidy package of $4.5 billion, mostly in direct cash payments, and lower-priced land acquired through eminent domain. In exchange, Foxconn promised to create more than 13,000 middle-class manufacturing jobs, a revived manufacturing sector and loads of tax revenue &#8212; the combination of which was projected to produce economic returns ranging from $39 billion to $78 billion over the next 15 years. If these returns sound like a great deal, you've been conned.</p> <p>A year and a half after Trump paraded at the site with his golden shovel, the reality isn't as bright. First, a few days before the ceremony, Foxconn announced that the factory would ultimately be smaller than the one initially promised. It would also be highly automated, with almost all of the assembly work done by robots, and would only require 3,000 employees &#8212; 90% of them "knowledge workers" such as engineers, programmers and designers. There's nothing wrong with such a modern factory, except that it's not what Trump and other government officials thought they were buying with taxpayers' money.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 09, 2020</p> e4011c6c621b7fa9cac67ed3343b5f62 It's Resolution Time for Congress and the Administration for 01/02/2020 Thu, 02 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Mark Twain once wrote, "New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion." I love this quote, which is unfortunately all too accurate. Yet, I can't help but hope that as this new year begins, some in Congress and in the administration might find it worthwhile to follow a few resolutions that I offer below.</p> <p>Resolution No. 1: Don't apply new tariffs. </p> <p>Last year's trade policy was chaotic. This was largely a result of the president's random announcements, often on Twitter, that he'd apply tariffs on goods coming into the country. In some cases, the tariffs were meant to negotiate radically different trade deals than the ones we already had, a goal never achieved so far. In other cases, tariff threats were a way to get foreign governments to do things that have nothing to do with trade, such as reducing the number of immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border or forcing Brazil and Argentina to somehow keep economic turmoil from causing the value of their currencies to fall. In yet other instances, the president's announcements seemed to be triggered by some weird need to show that he's still in control and untamed.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 02, 2020</p> 769fd44ef43d33a839704fabb7bddc2c Was 2019 the Year of Peak Entitlement Mentality? for 12/26/2019 Thu, 26 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Looking back at 2019 is incredibly disorienting. The country is horribly divided. In fact, the president of the United States was just impeached along partisan lines. The government is running trillion dollar (and growing) annual budget deficits, even though the economy is doing well. Still, listening to many politicians and pundits, you'd think the nation is doing terribly and the government isn't spending a dime. That's 2019 in a nutshell.</p> <p>The economy is entering its 11th year of expansion. Poverty is at an all-time low; so are African American and Hispanic unemployment rates. The 3.5% overall unemployment rate hasn't been that low since 1969. The unemployment rate for women hasn't been this low since 1952. The employment rate for workers ages 25 to 54 is finally back above its pre-Great Recession level. Wages are on the rise, especially at the bottom of the income distribution. The stock market is on fire. Small businesses and many industries are complaining that they can't find enough workers to fill all the jobs they have.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 26, 2019</p> 398514372981c8d160157f9be4fafe76 Politicians Are Addicted to Price Controls for 12/19/2019 Thu, 19 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Despite overwhelming historical evidence demonstrating the folly of government-imposed price controls, modern politicians just can't seem to quit inflicting them on us. One obvious example involves health care, where price controls on prescription medications always seem to be just around the corner and are now being considered in the rush to eliminate surprise medical bills. Fewer people know about similar efforts regarding the aluminum market, where some politicians are contemplating price controls to compensate victims of the trade war.</p> <p>Back in March 2018, President Donald Trump announced that he would impose a 10% tariff on all imported aluminum (unless an exemption was later granted by the Department of Commerce).<p>Updated: Thu Dec 19, 2019</p> dbb7584de452bdb4bd83bd67dbe83ddb Will the Fed Edge Out the Competition With Real-Time Payments? for 12/12/2019 Thu, 12 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Imagine what it must be like for private companies that have invested in a new technology and suddenly find out they have to compete with a tax-supported government agency &#8212; the very one that also regulates the industry. That's what happened when the Federal Reserve entered the real-time payments market. What this development means for the private companies and the consumers they serve in this market is unclear. The outcome will depend on the Fed's willingness to play by the rules.</p> <p>The Fed plans to develop what it's calling the FedNow Service, which is expected to launch sometime in the next five years. FedNow is to be a real-time gross settlement service that would compete against private-sector options like The Clearing House, or TCH, payment platform, which is run by a consortium of large banks. Real-time payments would significantly speed up the current slow speed of many payments. That's more convenient for American businesses and consumers, and it reduces the burden on lower-income Americans.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 12, 2019</p> 211fbf288d885d51c10bf9c20d0e20e1 Congress' Continuing Resolution Is an Opportunity for Reform for 12/05/2019 Thu, 05 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Once again, Congress failed to pass its budget before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. It also failed to do this critical part of its job before the continuing resolution, or CR &#8212; which they enacted in September to fund the government &#8212; expired on Nov. 21. The sorry result is that Congress compelled itself to adopt yet another CR, one that will run through Dec. 20. If this tale sounds familiar and irresponsible, that's because it is.</p> <p>As of now, Congress finds itself, yet again, in the same position it was in last year when it faced a year-end shutdown. Unfortunately, this combination of budgetary cowardice and irresponsibility is not new. As the Pew Research Center explains, "In the four decades since the current system for budgeting and spending tax dollars has been in effect, Congress has managed to pass all its required appropriations measures on time only four times: in fiscal 1977 (the first full fiscal year under the current system), 1989, 1995 and 1997."</p> <p>Always the optimist, I hope that Congress will, this time, use the remaining days on the CR to do the right thing on a few items:<p>Updated: Thu Dec 05, 2019</p> ed15084da0537612fc9efac8fe3540d1 The End Is Not Nigh -- There Is Much to Be Thankful For for 11/28/2019 Thu, 28 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>At a time when our country seems as divided as ever and many are talking as if the end times are coming, it's more important than ever to look at what we should be thankful for.</p> <p>Unemployment is at its lowest level in nearly 50 years. Poverty is down, too. Since 1990, average life expectancy in the United States increased from 75.4 to 78.6 years. Our workplaces are also safer, as demonstrated by the 30% decline in the rate of workplace deaths from 1992 to 2017 and a 69% drop in the rate of workplace injury and illness.</p> <p>Our cities and country as a whole are safer, with crime rates falling dramatically. In fact, Washington, D.C. experienced an incredible increase among the world's safest cities ranking. It jumped from the 23rd safest city in the world in 2017 to number 7 in 2019. Negative indicators, such as teen pregnancies and abortion rates, are also declining.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 28, 2019</p> 0fd6af07f43c02d2185d7de3c9c447ec Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Lacks Needed Reform for 11/21/2019 Thu, 21 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>When the U.S. House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank last week, special interests got their way in the swamp that is Washington. While advocates for the nation's official export credit agency pretend it supports small businesses, grows exports and sustains growth, the reality is quite different. Ex-Im Bank is better described as a vessel for corporate welfare, mostly for the benefit of large domestic and foreign manufacturers.</p> <p>This is a sad statement about the state of policymaking in Congress. The House bill that passed with 235-184 in favor of reauthorization is an even worse version of the mediocre reform bill that legislators previously hoped to pass. It makes no real effort to reform the way Ex-Im Bank allocates its deals, which shows that legislators continue to support business as usual at the bank. That means more corporate welfare for huge companies with armies of lobbyists. It also means a return to 40% of the bank's activities benefiting the aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which is why many of us call Ex-Im "Boeing's Bank."</p> <p>This is disheartening in light of growing evidence that Boeing's cozy relationship with government officials at the Federal Aviation Agency played some role in Boeing's recent failures to fix problems with its software, which ultimately led to two fatal plane crashes.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 21, 2019</p> 688a0e866736452c506f3595ab63665b Crony Christmas Lists Crammed Into Congressional Crisis for 11/14/2019 Thu, 14 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Here we go again. We're approaching another deadline to pass a government spending bill or risk a government shutdown. Legislators routinely manufacture this sort of "crisis" to ram through provisions that wouldn't survive scrutiny standing on their own. Congress is reportedly likely to push the budget deadline into December, but whenever the next full funding bill is finally taken up, there will inevitably be an effort to load it up with crony handouts.</p> <p>At the top of the wish list will be "tax extenders." These are tax provisions that generally bestow benefits on particular business interests, but they expire every year or so. They must be renewed regularly if the benefits are to continue.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 14, 2019</p> 4f7f0ef93c91eb15a351ed3658dbfd34 Plans by Warren and Sanders Neglect Logic, Math and Honesty for 11/07/2019 Thu, 07 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The more I follow the Democratic presidential campaign, the more I see how little I understand some people. After all, we can have differences when it comes to ideology, and we can aspire to different things in life. We can even have different understandings of what morality means. Still, there are things on which we should all agree: Because our government is $23 <i> trillion </i> in debt and its annual budget deficits are permanently heading north of $1 trillion, every American should agree that there isn't much space for more spending.</p> <p>And yet Sen. Elizabeth Warren promises that if she becomes president, she will spend $49 trillion over the next 10 years on programs like "Medicare for All," "free" college and many new family entitlements. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders would like to spend as much as $97.5 trillion over the next decade. That's on top of a $15.5 trillion baseline deficit, according to Brian Riedl at the Manhattan Institute. None of these politicians has a plan to pay for most of what they propose, and the tax plans they have so far are mostly a recipe for less revenue and seriously slower economic growth.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 07, 2019</p> c0d76a3e489e89cfee06f99126bef0c2 End the Failed Renewable Fuel Standard Experiment for 10/31/2019 Thu, 31 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It's time for the annual Congressional fight over the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. In one corner sit corn farmers and their representatives, who fight tenaciously not just to preserve the RFS but to expand it. In the other sits, well, just about everyone else. Whether you are a refiner, a consumer, an environmentalist, a free market economist or just someone who cares about good government, there is ample reason to oppose the ethanol mandate.</p> <p>Since 2005, the federal government has required that refineries blend increasing amounts of ethanol (grain alcohol) with gasoline. There are requirements for cellulosic, biodiesel and advanced biofuels, with the rest of the mandate typically being met by corn ethanol since it is the cheapest.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 31, 2019</p> 0a0759e2fb34fa4664b9c94f8d4828be Candidates' Wealth Tax Proposals Demonstrate Spooky Economic Ignorance for 10/24/2019 Thu, 24 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It's open season on wealth and those who create it. Candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination like Sen. Bernie Sanders, for instance, say that "Billionaires should not exist" and the wealth disparity in America is "a moral and economic outrage." California businessman Tom Steyer &#8212; who happens to be a billionaire &#8212; says that "Senator Sanders is right," while Sen. Elizabeth Warren laments the "extreme concentration of wealth" in America.</p> <p>They all call for both a wealth tax and a massive increase in government spending in order to fix this inequality and restore "social justice" in America. In doing so, they demonstrate how little they understand economics.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 24, 2019</p> 37ed810d8ac26accd8bc5adf26877e1b Trump Touts the Great Deal of China for 10/17/2019 Thu, 17 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>A trade deal with China could finally be here! It's a good one, too, according to President Donald Trump, who said last week, "So, we just made what, I guess, is one of the biggest deals that's been made in a long time, with China." He added, "If you look at the deal, the deal is so incredible. The deal is a great deal." Then we learned that there isn't actually a real deal yet, just a tentative proposal. It's also far from the comprehensive deal that Trump once promised.</p> <p>Either way, one must ask: Was it worth it?<p>Updated: Thu Oct 17, 2019</p> 13cf585d773da04690c01fa1a34457ff I Welcome Imports, and so Should You for 10/10/2019 Thu, 10 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services increased to $54.9 billion in August, up from $54.0 billion in July. That's because imports grew more than exports overall. While President Donald Trump will see this higher trade deficit as a bad thing, we should not. It can be a bit confusing, but Trump and pretty much every president before him justified allowing imports as a price we must pay to allow American companies to sell their stuff abroad.</p> <p>Consider former President Barack Obama. He once said during a State of the Union address, "Ninety-five percent of the world's customers live outside our borders, and we can't close ourselves off from those opportunities." This was meant to explain why it was OK for him to lower tariffs on American goods: It was the key to gaining more access to foreign markets for domestic exporters.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 10, 2019</p> b06c5736d8c811f7fe1a5f4cc12899cc Hush, Little Voter, Don't Say a Word (About Tariffs) for 10/03/2019 Thu, 03 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>There are many bad ideas flying around right now in Congress. The recent proposal by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to give some taxpayers a rebate check funded with the tariff loot is one of those ideas. It's not only bad economics, but it comes across as hush money to keep tariff victims silent in advance of the next election.</p> <p>The senator's Tariff Rebate Act seems straightforward at first. It would require the Treasury Department to set aside revenue from the Section 201, 232 and 310 tariffs and redistribute the money equally among each American adult who files a tax return and does not earn enough money to be in the top four tax brackets. Every American filing alone with an annual taxable income less than $84,200, and every married couple filing jointly making less than $168,400 gets a check that could amount to $200 for a single person and $400 for a married couple. It could be even more if the president continues his expansionary tariff policy.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 03, 2019</p> 51da86170ea5362135ac50c5388f502f Cronyism Yields a Bumper Crop with Farm Bailouts for 09/26/2019 Thu, 26 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Stan Veuger of the American Enterprise Institute recently complained on Twitter that those who cared about cronyism when Barack Obama was president are suddenly very quiet about President Donald Trump's bailout of farmers. There is some truth to his complaint. </p> <p>But first, it's wrong to say that everyone has been silent. The National Taxpayers Union, the Cato Institute and others have complained and written against the bailouts. It's also wrong to assume that those, like me, who haven't made the bailouts a central focus of their work in spite of their past opposition to cronyism are silent for political reasons. Many of us are simply overextended, fighting the multifront attacks against freedom launched by Trump, the Democratic House, the Republican Senate and the Democratic presidential candidates.<p>Updated: Thu Sep 26, 2019</p> a294879c644499a1c666c11e1a701ce7 The Motherhood Pay Gap for 09/19/2019 Thu, 19 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Does capitalism help or hurt women? I recently participated in a debate on the topic at the Cato Institute. While preparing for the event, I learned many fascinating facts that may interest feminists who claim the best way to help American women is for the U.S. government to do what other governments have done: spend a lot of money on so-called "pro-family" programs.</p> <p>Consider Nordic governments, often praised by modern feminists and socialists alike, as models America should emulate.<p>Updated: Thu Sep 19, 2019</p> 06894ef1023e11e1cd52bd9a7a0012b7 Trump's Tariff and Trade Aches and Pains for 09/12/2019 Thu, 12 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On the campaign trail, candidate Donald Trump said that, if elected, "We're going to win so much. You're going to get tired of winning. You're going to say, 'Please Mr. President, I have a headache. Please, don't win so much.'" Unfortunately, Trump's definition of winning seems to mean flexing his presidential muscles, beating his chest and changing his mind without hesitation &#8212; all with an utter disregard for the actual impact of his policies on the economy and American workers.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">The president's profound misunderstanding of what victory looks like is particularly visible in his multifront attack on trade and globalization.</span> All in the name of putting America first, he withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, treated our trade partners like enemies, forced a renegotiation of NAFTA with no clear idea of whether the new deal (the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) could ever be ratified, implemented tariffs to fight imaginary national security menaces and started a trade war with China without any clearer strategy than his willingness to jack up tariffs at all costs.<p>Updated: Thu Sep 12, 2019</p> 387d501872d1f3451cd2a29d6b23b008 When Truth Goes Hyperbolic for 09/05/2019 Thu, 05 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In his book "The Art of the Deal," President Donald Trump described his communication style as "truthful hyperbole." Hyperbole, sure. Truthful, questionable. Take Trump's recent speech in Pennsylvania where he declared that his tariffs had turned things around for the domestic steel industry. He also claimed the unratified United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement &#8212; USMCA or the new NAFTA &#8212; and his steep Chinese tariffs would also bring jobs back to the United States. Are the Trump trade policies bringing about a manufacturing revival?</p> <p>Over the course of the last year and a half, the administration has imposed tariffs on metals, along with many other intermediate and final goods. Part of the USMCA would require that more auto parts be made in the United States and more compensation be subjected to higher minimum wages in order to benefit from the zero tariff rate between Mexico, the United States and Canada. When faced with a steep penalty for buying foreign goods, the belief is that consumers and both foreign and domestic companies producing goods in the United States will have no choice but to buy everything they need here at home.<p>Updated: Thu Sep 05, 2019</p>