Me in Teen Vogue, on TPP

Here is the link, a very nice spread, here is an excerpt:

Cowen’s concerns about withdrawing from the TPP are far graver than that. “I think it’s saying [to the other countries], ‘We won’t be there for you,’” he says. “It’s signaling there is no pivot to Asia, America will go back into its shell. And I think 50 years from now, through largely intangible factors, that will mean a much worse world…. It’s [about] the whole vision of America engaging with the world.”

For example, Cowen points to both Japan and South Korea and the domino effect this could have on them. “If you’re South Korea and your best and biggest ally just told you, ‘We’re not even going to run this trade agreement,’ [but] they’re still telling you, ‘We’re gonna defend you against North Korea,’ I think at some point you start doubting that,” he says. “And [with] Japan, [if] the U.S. says, ‘No, you don’t need to build nuclear weapons — we’ve got your back,’ I think, as Japan, you need to start doubting that. I’m not sure either of those are things that will change overnight, but if we don’t reverse the unraveling perceptions, you’ll find those countries looking for their own solutions. South Korea would probably cut a deal with China. Japan might rearm more.”

…Cowen, for his part, hopes that Trump and his advisors come to their senses and figure out a way to continue some sort of free trade. “The best-case scenario is that Trump’s advisors go to him and say, ‘Look, you promised to renegotiate NAFTA. TPP does that. You’re very willing to tell people lies. Why not just tell people this is a new and better TPP? If need be, change some cosmetic things in it so it’s not a strict lie and then call it your own, rename it, and pass it,’” Cowen says. Though he doesn’t expect that to actually happen, he believes it would be a big win not only for America but also for Trump, the Republicans in Congress, and the businesses that would benefit from it. “I think it’s a pure political win.”



Non proliferation has collapsed-South Korea and Japan will build nuclear weapons and the USA can come home.

That said this logic is border-line insane- South Korea and Japan get to blackmail the USA into approving a trade deal that Americans don't support on the basis of the fact that otherwise they might doubt our commitment to defend them. Where's the actual threat here. "If you don't buy me that sports car I'll think you are cheating on me." Maybe Tyler would respond to this kind of threat on a personal level, but I can't imagine any self-respecting person would.

Isn't it a lot more logical to reason in the opposite direction- we've defended you for fifty years nows it's time for you to gulp down some unfavorable trade terms. Or failing that just tell
Sailers invade the world, invite the world gets a new "i-word" corollary- inundate the US with subsidized products.


Originally, it was invade the world, invite the world, inhoc to the world.

@Milo fan - are you an Apple fanboi? Milo means "apple" in Greek. You seem very impressed to give a plus ten to a Sam Fulsome post that sounds like a drunk frat boy talking foreign policy. The first sentence by Sam is mad and internet hyperbole. If Sam wants to show off his foreign policy cred, try blogging on the deployment of THAAD in South Korea, good or bad?

Bonus trivia: Apple is a popular underwear trademark in Europe and in particular Greece; only a European would know what I'm taking about. Not somebody insular like Sam, who's from Ohio and thinks small. Way to go O-Hi-O.

Fantasy and projection noted. Just look at your tone of your posts to every one of the people you reply to. Why such anger from somebody who supposedly has driven (as a yacht hand?) a $10M yacht?

You are confusing anger for contempt. Ever response to you I make with a big ole grin on my face delighted at puncturing your pomposity and lameness.

Better than someone who couldn't get into the frat and is still trying to make up for it at 50 years old.

+10,000 (Ray's net worth)

Which frat? And which guiding principles providing breaks from periods of debauchery?

I love how Ray thinks I'm from Ohio. I'd love to know that thought process.

Malum is the Latin for 'apple' (with long a, as opposed to short a malum = 'evil').

I imagine that the historical positioning of significant US military human and physical resources and Korea and Japan were not forced upon the USA by blackmail, but rather more so by the fact of choosing to do so.

Various strategic reasons legitmize this.

The principle of nuclear non-proliferation is based on the idea that the fewer chains of command with the capacity to start the desctruction of everything, the better.

In my opinion, reducing the probability of destroying everything is also in the interest of the USA, the player with the strongest ability to influence that situation.

If you were serious about this you would have opposed the Iran Deal. Spare me.

And please develop reading comprehension- I never said that we defended them out of a sense of blackmail I articulated what Cowen's argument boiled down to- them trying to use emotional blackmail to get TPP passed.

Ignoring the first 10 or 20 years which were essentially a military occupation, I think a "shared interests" outlook far more than a "blackmail" sort of mindset is more useful, and probably more realistic in the present day.

As for the Iran deal, recall that the Iran deal is explicitly for the objective of reducing proliferation risks (ignoring more complex geopolitical aspects which would very much legitimize an Iranian interest to hold such a deterrent). So, your position is contingent on your belief that the Iran deal accomplishes the opposite of what it set out to do.

Yes substituting sanctions which were working for an unenforceable framework which the Iranians are already flouting.

And let's be honest when Iran detonates its first nuclear test you will be full of excuses for why the Iran deal wasn't responsible.

No, Sam, the position from the philosphical left on nukes, especially Iranian nukes is "why should the u.s. be allowed to have nukes and other countries aren't?" Suicidal fairness. Read Singer, who is a lefty capable of logic, which is rare, since this fairness is emotional. The logic demands that the US gives away its wealth until we enjoy third world poverty. Suicidal fairness.

Sam, if you had any better ideas, you were sure quiet at the time.

Alternative plans included "find out what colour the sand in the Middle East will glow".

Thomas, the actual position is that as the most powerful and influential country in the world, it is very much the position of the USA to consider taking leadership on matters of nuclear non-proliferation, and in the case to take leadershi pin reducing stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

No one except for complete retards, such as yourself apparently for the fact of believing that any left wing, centrist, or ANY Westerner actually wants this, thinks that the US should unilaterally give up ALL nukes and sit by and do nothing while all other countries get them.

The realistic position is that the US can indicate a desire for rivals to also reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles, and to take the first move, say ... commit to getting rid of a few hundred nukes, contingent on someone else (generally Russia) agreeing to reductions in kind.

The main concern is to uphold MAD.

My plan was continue the sanctions. I even included it the comment you responded to without understanding. One of these days you are going to get you ducks in a row and not embarrass yourself using sarcasm.

But no one else was planning to continue the sanctions, since Iran was willing to agree to what everyone else was OK with.

If the US wants to go it alone on sanctions against Iran for no reason whatsoever, then I suppose it is perfectly free to do so.

Or, what specific additional post-agreement concessions would you have in mind?

One problem we have w.r.t. nonproliferation is a pretty classic one in game theory--we'd like to impose punishments (cutting foreign aid, breaking off friendly relations, refusing any military coordination) on countries that openly go nuclear. But once the countries have gone nuclear, we have strong incentives to maintain foreign aid and friendly relations, since they've already got the bomb at that point. We can't make a credible commitment to punish proliferation.

You can see this with our response to India and Pakistan--two countries that went openly nuclear and with whom the US has pretty close relations, sends a lot of foreign aid, etc. It's a reasonable prediction that if Iran goes openly nuclear at some point, and manages not to end up in a war right away, we and the rest of the world will gradually adapt to the new reality and accept the fact that they're another nuclear power.

The other side of this is that, to my mind, our extremely aggressive interventionist foreign policy creates an incentive for countries likely to be our targets to get nukes. North Korea has done more to provoke a response from us since 9/11 than any dozen middle-eastern nations, but since they have nukes and effectively can hold the population of Seoul hostage, we haven't been able to respond militarily. Similarly, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attack was hiding out in Pakistan for a decade or more, and the Pakistani intelligence service has long-term links to the Taliban and Al Qaida with whom we've been at war for 15 years. And yet, we are at peace with Pakistan. I assume if they didn't have nukes, we'd be occupying them, too. (Probably with about as much success as we're having in Afghanistan.) Libya responded to the invasion of Iraq by handing over its chemical weapons program to the US and trying very hard to mend fences with us; when the political winds shifted, we started bombing them in support of the rebels in their civil war.

The lesson of Iraq (both of our invasions) was that even a big professional third-world army poses little deterrent against us. Probably you could make a pretty effective deterrent by setting up a cell structure and weapons caches for guerilla warfare before we arrived, but few dictators are going to like that idea for reasons of their own.

So imagine you're in charge of Iran's long-term strategic plans. You understand that internal politics within the US could plausibly lead to a push to invade your country, regardless of any actions of yours. (Remember McCain's "Bomb, bomb Iran" bit?) You recognize that doubling your military spending on conventional weapons (which would be ruinous because you're a pretty poor country) won't actually be a deterrent--it will just increase the amount of second-rate military hardware that gets blown up by missiles just before the invasion starts, and maybe you'll manage to kill a handful more American soldiers in the invasion before your army gets wiped out. You recognize that you can organize for a guerilla war, and it will work--the Americans will eventually pull out in disgust after a decade of bloody occupation, during which your government will be toppled and a couple million of your citizens will die. Or you could try to get nukes, at which point you could pose a credible threat to nuke two close US allies (Israel and Saudi Arabia) if you're invaded, and based on the examples of North Korea and Pakistan, you'd probably never be invaded.

If I were an Iranian making those decisions, I think I'd be extremely interested in getting nukes. Now, short-term, that means that US policy needs to work out a way to dissuade or prevent them getting nukes, because a world with a nuclear-armed Iran is a worse world to live in. But I'd also like to see us, long-term, find a way to stop creating an incentive for countries to develop nukes just to keep us from invading them.

If Iran goes nuclear, Arab states will want/need nukes.

Anyone want to live in a world with nuclear-armed Wahabbists? Even if for geopolitical and historical reasons the West and the Anglo world in particular is more aligned with the Wahabbists, it would concern me far much more for them to have nukes than Iran. And preventing Iran from getting nukes is the best way to ensure that the Wahabbists do not feel the need to go there.

" I’d also like to see us, long-term, find a way to stop creating an incentive for countries to develop nukes just to keep us from invading them"

It starts with findind a way to say that without sounding like you want a second 9-11.

Which ... I think you just did.

What is striking about this passage is that Teen Vogue is calling Tyler Cowen by his last name, "Cowen" and not, California-cool style and conventional these days, by his first name, "Tyler". Who wrote this? Not a teenage girl that's for sure, sounds like a hard-boiled DC egghead.

I'm getting an emournus laugh at the idea of Low Net Worth Ray reading Teen Vogue all these years while thinking the writers were teenagers and now being super disappointed. Reality is tough on Lowpez's fantasies.

Emma Sarran Webster started college in 2004, so assuming age 17, she is 30. Journalism is one of her majors, so she is writing to style. Coming from Chicago where she has returned from NYC, she would be more Strunk & White (showing my age) or The Chicago Manual of Style.

Teen Vogue may be like Playboy - it's audience buys it for the insightful interviews and essays, not the pictures.

Coming, long ago, from the heartland, her writing is Midwest metro, not coastal California cool nor east coast elite.

That Tyler Cowen quotes her, I'm assuming he finds her synopsis accurate. I find it describes a logic view, one that is more understandable than what Cowen has written.

I gather Teen Vogue has been making a push at doing some serious news reporting. The thing to understand is that it's not actually expensive to do decent news reporting--it just doesn't pay. I imagine Teen Vogue has a revenue source based on its lowbrow content that allows it to cross-subsidize real reporting, but I don't really know as I've never read the magazine.

With more women graduation college than men, but still 'underrepresented' in STEM type fields, there is going to be a huge boom in industries that require college educated women aged 21-25 with a superficial ability to learn and write on the humanities and social sciences.

Maybe they can apply their skills to discuss how excessive STEM focus can in some situations be quite similar to a Stalinist development model?

Once all the engineers and software developers are convinced that "moral dimensions of my work are not my business, I just do my job", then what need is there for any reflection on what anyone actually wants?

All in service of the greater ability to blow stuff up faster and to dominate and control for no purpose other than to dominate and control.

Or maybe they can write some frivilous opinion pieces on how STEM advances can enable us to achieve security at lower costs while protecting various liberties and rights?

1. Inequality in STEM

2. Tons of scholarships and reduced admissions standards, affirmative action in employment, media campaigns, tech culture criticism, political speeches.

3. Still no women interested in STEM

4. "Well STEM sucks anyway, we need to elevate our liberal arts grads!"

There is some truth to what you say. But these things do not change overnight.

100 years ago, there was no such thing as a female doctor or a female PhD holder.

50 years ago, there were perhaps some small handful of female academics in science faculties across all Ivy league universities combined.

20 years ago, engineering faculties had in the range of a few percent to a third being women in different engineering fields.

These days, all those numbers are up, up and up. But still not equal.

+1. As a dude in computer science, my position at this point is that being a woman in STEM tends to be easier at the major decision points (it's easier to get hired as a developer, admitted to graduate school, win scholarships, or secure faculty positions) and harder everywhere else (in your first systems course you work on a team project and the other two dudes compete to impress you, your old automata theory professor doles out well-meaning condescension, you have no idea if the guy staying up late to help debug your code has ulterior motives, you go to work for Uber). On balance it still looks like a raw deal.

Cowen, for his part, hopes that Trump and his advisors come to their senses and figure out a way to continue some sort of free trade

LOL. As if there was this bottleneck on Pacific Rim trade without TPP. Container ships, rotting in the Pacific. The Port of LA, abandoned. Store shelves empty.

And, like any good soothsayer, come up with this parade of vague, intangible bogeymen half a century down the road.

Does Tyler realize that Japan already had nuclear weapons, in practice? Google "paranuclear."

Exactly- being one screwdrivers turn away from the bomb.

India was paranuclear for 25 years, but it caught the CIA flatheaded, I mean footed.

In practice, that is not relevant to the eternal question of whether nuclear war will start in the next 30 seconds.

Japan might have nukes in 30 days? What does that have to do with the next 30 seconds?

What about the next 30 milliseconds? What about the next Wrestlemania? What's that Robert DeNiro line in heat? Where's my power cord?

Relative to the situation where the TPP was moving forward, I understand this relative perspective.

But consider the situation before the TPP was a serious prospect, or at least before it was really ironed out to the extent that it could plausibly be ratified by all participants within a year or two timeframe. Say ... in 2010, were US commitments relating to South Korea and Japan in doubt for the fact of not having a TPP? I think not.

However, the principle of referring to the direction of change rather than the absolute situation strongly legitimizes the perspective presented ....

At this point, we don't know if Trump is an abberation or some harbinger of a real shift in American popular opinion. I would treat him as an abberation at least until the midterm elections and then see which way the winds blow.

Ignore the delivery. For content, Trump is just a reversion to the mean.

"It’s signaling there is no pivot to Asia, America will go back into its shell."

I suspect our trade partners in Asia understand that this administration would prefer a bilateral agreement with each of them.

Sounds like good cause for a non-alignment movement.

And stronger trade (and other) links amongst those divided partners.

I much preferred the "Tiger Beat" article on exchange rate mechanisms and how Bitcoin will have to adapt should any countries exit the Euro before the ECB policy statement on blockchain financial instruments is finalized

I prefered who wore it best Cowen vs. Robert Reich

I preferred Newsweek's 'CW'.

Actually, Teen Beat is defunct.

So now it's Teen Vogue. What's next? Will Tyler become a Peter Morici figure, doing commercials for copiers?

I'd like to think Tyler isn't as dumb as he comes across in this article.

"We need to run American trade to benefit non-Americans over ourselves. If we don't, others might think we might not use our military to benefit non-Americans over ourselves."

You can see why Tyler's tribe lost the deeply historic 2016 election.

Trade is not a zero-sum game.

Your commenting is a negative-sum game.

Neither is purchasing a car, but you still negotiate at the dealership. There is no reason to let the other side get the whole surplus- never in a million years would you accept someone imposing that condition on you in your own life. I

A trade agreement is not a car purchase, it is an agreement to allow people to buy and sell cars without sticking your meddling nose into the negotiations.

A 5000 page agreement is not " without sticking your meddling nose into the negotiations"

I'd favor an agreement, but given Obama's history, you know it's loaded with a lot of crap the undermines actual free trade.

"A transaction is not zero sum" does not equal "All possible transactions are equally good."

In an economy where exchange is voluntary, external trade (whether buying or selling) will only be preferred if this is calculated by the participant as being better for them.

This puts an extremely strong bar on how bad things can get from trade. (Problems are more about distributional aspects.)

As Sam says above, you'd be crazy to take that approach when buying a car.

Tyler, here, cited research showing TPP was biased 4:1 in favor of the minority participants in the deal. That was overwhelming evidence that it was a poorly negotiated deal.

Comically enough, he cited it to argue _in_favor_ of the deal. Because the benefit to the US was positive, regardless of what the benefit to the US could have been with a well negotiated deal.

Well, in non US countries, the main concerns relate to things given to the US that much of the population does not want.

Such as enforcing US monopolies in pharmaceuticals for an additionally extended period of time, a deal that essentially amounts to foreign governments playing bagman for US megacorps. Same for Hollywood and publishing, where the US wants foreign governments to play bagman for 100 years into the future for copyrighted works, probably about 5 times longer than needed to maximize output.

And ... a whole long list of other gripes.

On what basis (ignoring whatever numbers someone managed to cobble together that you refer to) does anyone think that the US was going to get taken advantage of? Vietnam, as the lowest income negotiator, was required to update its labour laws, including for collective negotiation. So ... I dunno, I just don't know of a single straw you might grasp at ...

And anyways, it really wasn't a free trade deal.

It was a "protect and expand corporate profits deal", with additional provisions to ensure that corporations always get paid off if anything bad happens, but workers and consumers have precisely no mechanisms to protect their interests in that agreement.

On that basis alone, it deserved to be canned.

yler, here, cited research showing TPP was biased 4:1 in favor of the minority participants in the deal. That was overwhelming evidence that it was a poorly negotiated deal.

Which do you like better?
A) A deal where the US economy grows by 10% and the other parties grow by 40%?
B) A deal where the US economy grows by 5% and the other parties grow by 5%?

By your standard, the latter is better because it's "unbiased". Do you also like to complain about inequality?
I'm reminded of this speech my Margaret Thatcher ( )
Pay attention at the 2 minute mark.

"Which do you like better? A) A deal where the US economy grows by 10% and the other parties grow by 40%? B) A deal where the US economy grows by 5% and the other parties grow by 5%?"

Depends on what I'm optimizing for. If it's growth, obviously A) is the better deal. If it's political power I'm interested in, though, well, that's closer to a zero-sum game and I might very well be better off with B).

"Trade is not a zero-sum game."

Absolutely, but you still negotiate for the best position.

It used to be that America thought individuals and companies should negotiate, free from the coercive power of the state. That is even what "free trade" meant.

Used to be is doing a lot of work here. America's period of greatest sustain economic growth took place under an extremely protectionist regime.

"It used to be that America thought individuals and companies should negotiate, free from the coercive power of the state. That is even what “free trade” meant."

I'm fine with that. Why do we need TPP then?

This point seems to escape many economists, as though market equilbirium happens by magic.

The only reknowned economist I'm aware of who gives explicit attention to the fact that market equilbriium is a fictional concept that reflects an outcome after diverse negotiations is JS Mill, dead for 150 years already. Various technical works exist on a lot of related question, but the extremely obvious point that price is arrived at by negotiation and not market magic is essentially ignored.

If you wish to debate that this is less true in consumer markets these days, then refer to B2B cases.

The point of bilateral trade treaties is that their provisions aren't included in most favored nation status. This is like many of Trump's ideas an excellent way to maximize the return for the US. Again you are a Canadian in china- you don't care about the return for the US, but the American people do so tampis like the French say.

It seems to come easily to you to assume that someone must not care about something happening to other people.

Thankfully, not all your countrymen share this attitude.

What do you mean by negotiate? aren't american firms already free to negotiate the prices at which they import, if they have any kind of market power?

If you are talking about negotiations between countries, don't you agree with the fact that on average, free trade is the most efficient outcome?
And that negotiating for the "optimal tariff" is only good for the US if for some weird reason other countries do not retaliate?

I am genuinely interested in understanding your reasoning..

This represents a gross oversimplification and misunderstanding of TPP. "Free trade" is a small part of a deal mostly addressing regulatory coordination. We already live in a post-tariff world.

But, to be more explicit, if TPP results in a net benefit to the Rest of the World of $400B/year, and to the US of $100B/year, and the ratio of ROW GDP : US GDP is 1:1 (or whatever measure of bargaining power you think is appropriate - Singapore needs this deal a lot more than we do, so 1:1 is generous), the obvious solution is for the ROW to write a check to the US for $150B/year for the privilege of participating in the deal. Or to achieve the same effect through regulatory adjustment in the US favor. That's what negotiating means.

If the U.S. approaches every trade deal as "well no matter what, even unilateral free trade is a good outcome," then other nations can keep various favored industries protected to greater degrees, making U.S. exports less competitive in that market than they otherwise could be if we took a more aggressive negotiating position. A deal with fewer trade restrictions by all parties, not just the U.S., would seem to be the most "efficient" as I think you are using it. So if we want that outcome, we need the U.S. to plausibly commit to walking away from a "bad deal," to try to drive other nations to reduce their trade restrictions to the greatest extent possible.

And I don't think free trade is necessarily the efficient outcome. It ignores regulatory differences. By allowing free trade between a nation with strong environmental regulations and one with weak environmental regulations, you favor moving production to the less-regulated locale for reasons of avoiding regulation rather than true comparative advantage. If environmental protection is part of what is desired at the efficient equilibrium, then free trade between such nations does not seem to be an efficient outcome, as it evades those restrictions, perhaps through a long supply chain that produces additional environmental externalities.

Didn't see Lord Action's post before I posted, but as he says, the regulatory aspect is far more important at this stage. But even as a mostly theoretical matter, the U.S. would need to be willing to walk away from deals if it wants to minimize the total extent of trade restrictions. And as he says, the same logic applies to regulatory issues.

"then other nations can keep various favored industries protected to greater degree..."

Hence one major use of the WTO, most especially the most favoured nation clause, which helps with extending reciprocity more widely.

But Trump says he wants to negotiate everything bilaterally.

The best position for whom? US manufacturers or US consumers? Or even US manufacturers who use foreign inputs?
How do you determine what position is "best"? By what measure?

I'm assuming you mean that you want them to open their markets to our exports to the greatest extent, right? But in order to do that, you're holding back their access to our markets, or, equivalently, our consumers access to their products. Why should our consumers be denied access to foreign products so that domestic manufacturers can sell more of their products for export?

"I’m assuming you mean that you want them to open their markets to our exports to the greatest extent, right? But in order to do that, you’re holding back their access to our markets, or, equivalently, our consumers access to their products. Why should our consumers be denied access to foreign products so that domestic manufacturers can sell more of their products for export?"

Because we have no negotiating leverage if we aren't willing to threaten to maintain our trade restrictions in the face of another nation's desire to protect certain favored industries. Your view would favor unilaterally implementing free trade, which would lead to far more total restrictions on trade than an approach where the U.S. threatens to say no to a deal. And if those consumers work in industries (or provide goods or services to anyone who does) that export any goods, that will hurt them.

I would say an average rational American would determine their interests were best served by watching you and doing the opposite. You obsequious love of plutocracy and contempt for the American majority positively oozes through what you write.

It's amazing how libertarianism has collapsed as an ideology the bigger the amount of microphone time libertarianism was getting. Get a libertarian about themselves and it quickly becomes quite clear it's a lot of new people with daddy and authority issues carrying a lot of baggage from high school.

I am assuming that your support for free-trade extends to the abolition of the regulatory regime? It goes without saying that the Democrats here concern trolling about free trade actually don't care about free trade whatsoever. There is no free trade in a system with divergent regulatory burdens.

If you want to sell trucks in Japan, you have to make trucks that meet Japanese standards.

Just because Americans want gas guzzling trucks does not mean that Japan must accommodate by widening its roads and eliminating its various incentives towards more efficienct transportation.

It is reasonable to separate between tax and non-tax barriers. And when talking about non-tax barriers, it should be considered whether the barrier is intended to prevent trade or to uphold local wishes.

It isn't one bit reasonable free trade is free trade. Furthermore this makes your lust for open borders completely untenable- if Japan shouldn't have to accommodate trucks the don't like why then should Americans be forced to accommodate immigrants that aren't welcome.

This level of spergitude is mind blowing- externalities from products bad externalities from people don't worry about it.

Not black therefore is white is not good logic.

Because we have no negotiating leverage if we aren’t willing to threaten to maintain our trade restrictions in the face of another nation’s desire to protect certain favored industries. Your view would favor unilaterally implementing free trade, which would lead to far more total restrictions on trade than an approach where the U.S. threatens to say no to a deal. And if those consumers work in industries (or provide goods or services to anyone who does) that export any goods, that will hurt them.

There are two parties that are hurt by any trade barrier - the seller AND the buyer. So when we raise trade barriers to use as "negotiating leverage" we're harming US importers to benefit US exporters. And vice versa - when Japan raises trade barriers it's harming Japanese importers to benefit Japanese exporters.
One would think that if we come to our senses and unilaterally eliminate trade barriers the Japanese can do the same - realize that their harming their own consumers and lower their trade barriers because it benefits their own people to do so.
In both cases, the problem is the governments willingness to sacrifice dispersed national interests (consumers) to benefit concentrated local interests (export industries).
We do not get to a net lower total trade restrictions by continuing to play the game of protecting entrenched local interests at the expense of dispersed national interests.

Japan shouldn't have to permit trucks they don't like. America should worry about Americans and decide that unilaterally eliminating trade barriers is a net benefit to America - because it benefits US consumers far more than it harms producers. And maybe Japan will one day realize the same thing - that their hurting themselves by barring imports and make their own independent choices to reduce trade barriers and stop protecting their domestic industries.

That said, if the road to cajoling my own government into lowering trade barriers is to let them think they've "won" something from the Japanese - I'm not going to object to Japan cutting a few trade barriers if it means that we can be convinced to cut more of ours. I would therefore advise the Japanese to try to get the US to lower trade barriers as much as possible, because that benefits me the most.

Hazel - Everything you say is true. But it lends itself to the belief that former deals were bad deals.

Just because you gain from unilateral moves to freer trade does not mean that you should not try to press for a better deal. Selling the correct logic that unilateral moves to freer trade may then legitimize the view of having "lost" before for the fact of not having extracted additional extractions which could have been extracted.

On another note, this desire to negotiate bilateral deals only sounds to me like a divide and conquer strategy. And in the meantime, growth markets are in Asia in Africa, so if the US is going to be a pain in the butt, why not focus on where the growth will be?

Tyler is fairly unique, including in that he did not campaign for any team in 2016. If I were to guess, he thought he could be aloof, and sell The Complacent Class into a Clinton complacency he was careful to never endorse.

Tyler was complacent, or possibly doubly so.

Karma is perhaps not an inherent property of the universe. But stuff kinda comes around.

American advancement in wealth, technological prowess, etc., is conteingent on access to markets which will provide the lure for ongoing development in a competitive environment.

Instead, the EU gets markets access and the US throws up walls.

Again why do you care- you are a Canadian living in China. One who has demonstrated very little good will to America in general- nothing wrong with that- but it kind of rules out a concerned interest.

Is it just that you like the sound of your own voice?

I demosntrate good will to America every day by saying straight up and very clear why lots of people around the planet have issues with various things.

Do you think America got to be number 1 through "yes-man culture"?

One of the greatest threats to America is the risk of a yes-man culture developing under Trump. Early signs are that just about everyone knows it's important to prevent this from happening.

Nothing you ever say is clear or straight up so lemme stop you there.

Moreover, You are the same person that caterwauls racist at anyone who offers up straight and clear suggestions to blacks on how to improve and how the world sees them. So revealed preference and all that suggests that you see incessant criticism as anything but an expression of good will.

And to be perfectly honest to the extent that Americans care about how the world sees them that concern doesn't extend to Canadians. Basically when pressed every American acknowledges that Canadian identity exists only as a counter-image to America.

and color me skeptical on your connection to the pulse of the rest of the world.

What's your straight up suggestion "to blacks on how to improve"?

I didn't say I held good will towards people who hate other people for no good reason. I said that I believe it is not a sign of anti-Americanism, and indeed is a positive contribution to the conversation. In the meantime, I get to learn about (insert words that you would like me to self censor from referring to the existence of).

If you don't care what Canadians think, then save yourself some time and don't reply. But certainly, do not feel the need to self censor for fear that someone might point out legitimate cause for disagreement.

Back to this matter of suggesting "to blacks on how to improve". Please do. go right ahead.

I go so far as to suggest 20 minutes a day doing homework with children in school. But I'm not racist, so I think non-black parents should receive this advice as well. But ... maybe the message needs to get out a little more in one group than the other.

The default in the EU is protectionism. You only get market access if you do something for the Europeans in return. Look at the way that the EU has been able to bully its way into the fishing grounds of Africa.

The default in America is free trade. Look at the very generous access Africa gets. Doesn't help them much but it is there.

So I agree, the EU gets access. Because everyone knows America is committed to open trade. There is no point doing deals with them as you can hire some lobbyists, and get all you want anyway. The Europeans are not so nice. You have to give them something in return.

Now as an exercise for the readers, which starting position is likely to produce better trade outcomes for America? Which do you think Trump is positioning himself to claim?

As a bonus question - why do you think giving everyone everything they want before negotiations will encourage them to respect you in the morning?

The deals allow European firms to sell to African consumers without tariffs, and do not involve making decisions on behalf of soveriegn nations about who will be allowed to license the exploitation for which resources at which costs.

Honest question are you really a Chinese person living in Canada because you honestly can't communicate clearly in the English language.

Buying dem goods doesn't mean da stuff in the ground ain't mine to sell to whoever.

Mr. Cowen finally made it, the sky is the limit now. I would expect a cabinet appointment if I were he, which I am not.

His candidate got her ass kicked in the astoundingly historic 2016 US Presidential Election.

No cabinet appointment is forthcoming, Spanky.

"Which I am not". Good try. Everyone here knows you are he, Thyler.

I am not.

One purpose, maybe the main purpose, of TPP was to provide a counter to the growing influence of China in the region, it's everybody else vs. China (which isn't a party to TPP). Abandoning TPP is tantamount to conceding the region to China. Bashing China and TPP in the same sentence, as Trump has often done, is idiotic.

"If you don't support the Baltic State-Trade Renogotiation Alliance for Democratic Economies (BS-TRADE), your position is tantamount to conceding Crimea to Putin, which I would never support wholeheartedly"

Can someone PLEASE get Trump a plastic RESET button for Chiy-NA?

If you want to counter China's influence in the Pacific, why would you put together a treaty that doesn't include any of South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, or Indonesia? it's not remotely "everybody else v. China" when you exclude five of the six regional economies between the size of Japan and Vietnam.

Gaddafi thought he'd turned into a US ally. He was, as so often, betrayed. S Korea and Japan (and Taiwan) would do well to look after themselves. Indeed, maybe they should swallow their pride and form an alliance.

As for TPP: who here has read the damn thing? Not me, certainly.

The Korean people will never ally themselves with the Japanese cannibals.

Teen Vogue, huh? Are you snubbing Tiger Beat, Seventeen, and TMZ?

In honor of Cowen in Teen Vogue, I've created this:

The swooning teens and tweens will surely turn to game theory in pursuit of heart throb Tyler Cowen.

Teen vogue has big aspirations for lefty opinionating (despite their readership). This writer has no knowledge of economics, but they are VERY concerned about leavong TPP, because, like, Trump is Hitler, ohmigawd!

That being said, ohmigawd, this article is awful. There is Obama's claim that "over 95% of our potential customers live elsewhere" (thats the world population except US citizens for those keeping track), suggesting the billions living on a few dollars a day or less will be purchasing from us - a blatant political lie. Then there is Cowen, suggesting that South Korea should or does feel that Trump's position on TPP indicates an unwillingness to battle North Korea. You know, as opposed to TPP cheerleader and gifter of Crimea, Barack Obama. Are yoi kidding me, TC? Is this what you really think, or were you just telling the overgrown teenage girl, who, lile, wrote this article? what she wanted to hear?

Who else here finds it bizarre that Teen Vogue is reporting on trade deals? Seriously, WTF?

Those designer clothes don't export themselves, OK?

Teen Vogue is trying to re-invent itself as some kind of progressive voice for the new generation. It has to do something. Years ago, when my oldest daughter was in high school, she had subscriptions to Teen Vogue and Seventeen. When she outgrew them and didn't renew, Seventeen stopped coming. The latest Teen Vogue arrived today. I just toss it in the library donation pile when it arrives.

For how much time they kept sending it?

At least three years now.

I am trying to imagine a single teenager making it more than a single paragraph into that article.

Assuming of course that the target audience for Teen Vogue are actually teenagers!

A friend of mine reads it for the articles.

The economics article, I mean


Yeah, I see what you did there, Tyler.

Man, this page reinforces for me the idea that Social Media Is Destroying America. Google that phrase and see a couple million articles Google thinks might be related.

It would have been a better book than something about complacency or cycles of history. This is new. It has never happened before. It is what historians will be writing about 100 years from now.

Your "vision of the anointed" America couldn't compete in the rough and tumble of the marketplace of a ideas. You guys brutishly imposed via judicial oligarchy and star chamber proceeding on campus, but the arc of history bends towards popular sovereignty.

That's a really interesting response. It is straightforwardly crazy enough that it proves my point.

What do you know anon gets smacked on his ass gets up rubbing his butt and claims to have won. Get a grip man calling people crazy isn't an argument it's an admission of defeat.

The amazing thing is that you think stuff like a "brutishly imposed" "judicial oligarchy" just makes sense, no explanation or supporting argument required. Well, here is a test. Some other regular commenter (no new sock puppet) explain what those are.

Or even this "star chamber proceeding on campus." What campus? All campuses? Doing what?

Remember, to prove Sam sane, someone else needs to explain the sanity in these claims.

Oh I see this is kind of adorable when you don't know what a word means you assume the other person is crazy. I guess that's why God created USA Today.

Sam is unusually hyperactive today with his one liners, and as usual out of his depth. Look at that Ohio keyboard monkey go.


From one Ohioan to another: putting together random assemblages of words does not a sentence make.

No one is claiming they don't understand each word in your screed individually. It the particular permutation of those words that is under question. It really doesn't make sense.

Further, you make pretty extraordinary claims, but provide nary a shred of evidence. Help us out, man!

"You guys brutishly imposed via judicial oligarchy"

Are you even American?

Agree or disagree with the law as you like, but all constitutional amendments proceeded from extremely democratic processes (yes, the oligarchy surely played a significant role), and judicial appointments at the highest level only happen when the ELECTED president can get the agreement of the ELECTED congress that this candidate is OK.

So, if he's calling you crazy, I think he's got a point. Maybe just being a little dumb ... or perhaps overly hyperbolic in your propagandeering efforts.

Oligarchy- rule by few.

Judicial-relating to judges

The constitution never mentions judicial review.

You think it would be less oligarhical by ... getting rid of judges? Having them elected with the whims of the time rather than upholding longer standing principles that have withstood long scrutiny?

I guess you could maybe put it that way.

But it doesn't really make sense unless attached to some notion of a less oligarchical approach (I assume you prefer more democratic, and not more autocratic, by the fact of mentioning oligarchy?).

Should there be 15 judges instead of 9? Should there be additional checks against new appointments by attributing additional veto power to additoinal institutions, beyond the selection process of the presidsent and the requirement for congress to approve as well?

My guess is that you're talking crap against institutions which impede a faster path to stuff that you want to happen. But who knows ... people are often wrong about a lot of things.

Remember for the future, Sam. Troll Me is actually your most sympathetic reader.

I believe Sam is expressing a fairly common view, namely that more issues should be decided by the elected branches (particularly the legislature) rather than the judiciary. Particularly socially contentious issues. The Supreme Court is unelected and its members hold their offices for life (during good behavior). Having such people determine important societal issues rather than elected officials (or the people themselves) is quite oligarchical.

You may not like a court decision, but if you go nuts and call that "brutishly imposed via judicial oligarchy," you are not helping.

You are not even keeping good mental hygiene.

If you don't think it's an issue that should be decided by the courts to begin with, it can seem like judicial authoritarianism, and bring out a lot of strong feelings. "Brutishly imposed via judicial oligarchy" is over-the-top, but it also contains a reasonable sentiment and a likely-honest outrage. Over-the-top claims of that sort are not new to America:

"The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states."

We are a nation founded on exaggerating the extent of the tyranny being extended over us, and it continues to this day.

Like Clinton, Trump actually believes most of what he says at the time he says it - but like Obama, all Trump's statements carry an expiration date.

Unfortunately, while Trump himself might be convinced to soften some positions, the True Believers close to him won't allow too much sensible input. Instead, he is on an endless feedback loop of self-affirmation.

Tyler seems to be saying, "Trump would be much better if he weren't so much himself." I concur.

And I say, let Trump be Trump.

I had a rather different idea of this alleged 'very nice spread in Teen Vogue.' More along the lines of a photo spread, I suppose: Tyler posed seductively atop a Pacific-centric world map with fragments of popped red, white, and blue balloons strewn about. Or several scantily clad economists on trampolines having a foreign currency fight.

I'm not sure if my subsequent disappointment colored my reaction to the actual article, but I didn't find most of Tyler's observations very convincing. I think nations hold trade and defense in altogether different spheres--that is, withdrawal from TPP would not signal America's military withdrawal from the region. Trade agreements are often multilateral; defense agreements, seldom so. NATO is an anomaly. Historically defense agreements have been largely bilateral, and America continues to engage with nations in the region on those terms.

The portion on renegotiating NAFTA was good, but our relationship with Mexico has been, and presently is, more contentious than the article suggests. Even so, NAFTA was an extraordinary accomplishment and shouldn't be taken for granted. Renegotiating may well prove entirely fruitless, and reneging altogether would be acutely felt.

Calling a hypothetical passage of TPP 'a pure political win' that would benefit Trump and Republicans in Congress is batshit insane. It might be an economic win but it would be nothing short of political catastrophe! The tide has turned against free trade, and I can't fathom how an economist who witnessed the last few years of American (and indeed international) politics can honestly think the American public has any stomach for a new, expansive free trade agreement. The Democrats embraced a similar delusion with Obamacare: that it would be a political gambit that would eventually pay endless dividends. It proved instead to be near-suicidal. There's a case to be made for free trade, but now is not the time to make it, least of all with Donald Trump making it!

"I think nations hold trade and defense in altogether different spheres–that is, withdrawal from TPP would not signal America’s military withdrawal from the region."

I think the strongest evidence for that point is that we managed to offer military promises to these countries for decades without TPP. If TPP had been entered in 1970 and the U.S. had just decided to exit it with Trump's election, I think Tyler could make the same point and have it be reasonable. But saying that our giving up on a deal that had yet to come to fruition signals our military withdrawal makes very little sense.

And I agree that "TPP as pure political win" seems to be ignoring pretty much all political outcomes over the past few years.

Oh, and completely forgot to say: your first paragraph is right on, and we need more seductive photo spreads featuring economists.

"I had a rather different idea of this alleged ‘very nice spread in Teen Vogue." [snip]

Every venture into new market segments requires preparation, TC:

1) Lose 100 lbs
2) Begin working out
3) Throw out everything in your wardrobe, most especially THESE
4) & about that haircut..

'Teen Vogue': its got a 'ring' about it

1. Teen Vogue?

2. TPP was a good idea. It offered a counterbalance to Chinese hegemony in matters ranging from steel dumping to bullying smaller neighbors along the South China Sea. It did not a promise American protection, but it did encourage relationships among countries from the Americas to Australia to Asia. Such connections, over time, could build alliances on foreign policy that would forestall military adventurism aborning and lessen the need for military deployments in the region.

3. The abandonment of TPP has motivated Xi JInping and Vladimir Putin to seek bilateral agreements in the Philippines and Latin American countries. Americans may not be the most wonderful people in world history, but we are better than the current-day Chinese and Russians by any measure. Our action has made the region a potentially more volatile place.

4. TPP language included environmental and labor standards that deserved support. It also anticipated cooperative reactions to currency manipulation by other countries (cough, China, cough) seeking to advantage their own economies over others.

5. The only low-skilled industrial jobs that will return to the US are the ones that can be done by robots. We need to stop whinging about very poor people bootstrapping themselves out of abject poverty. The industrial revolution continues to roll across the globe, and our focus should be on using our running start to develop more sophisticated products and services to sell.

The abandonment of TPP has motivated Xi JInping and Vladimir Putin to seek bilateral agreements in the Philippines and Latin American countries.

How was the TPP supposed to discourage China and Russia from forming bilateral agreements with countries like the Philippines that were never in the TPP?

By offering a better alternative. Say what you like about XI and Vlad; each is interested in his own power first, the good of his people second and everything else third, or maybe not at all.

How does giving Malaysia and Vietnam special access to the US and Japanese markets, while not giving such access to the Philippines, provide a "better alternative" to China and Russia for the Philippines? Wouldn't, logically, being excluded from TPP actually encourage the Philippines to find some compensation elsewhere?

(Yes, yes, TPP includes an accession procedure for APEC members. It's not automatic, and one might note that both China and Russia are APEC members, too.)

People are getting too distracted by the trade story.

It's about setting norms. It's about the deep but slow to develop cultural connections that trade brings to nations.

A world in which most of Asia aspires to become more like the USA is better than a world in which most of Asia aspires to become more like China. Full stop.

A Europe in which Poland, Latvia, Croatia and Hungary have free and fair elections is better for the US than a world in which all of those countries sit under the thumb of Communist dictators.

America will not remain free in a world that isn't.

"A world in which most of Asia aspires to become more like the USA is better than a world in which most of Asia aspires to become more like China. Full stop. "

I think you are more correct than otherwise, but I think more openness to bidirectional flow of good ideas is important. Consider a new policy in China which requires children to visit their parents at least once a year, BY LAW (!), which in addition to promotion of upholding community ties, also ensures that those who leave home to work elsewhere will surely be aware if their elderly parents are in need. The question of what social disintegration might come from the state "doing too much" has long been a legitimate and active area of questioning, and here we have an example of potentially useful ideas going in the other direction. (I don't suggest a simlar mandate, but instead reflection on what objectives it is aligned with.)

"America will not remain free in a world that isn’t."

Amen to that!

I'm sorry. Why would South Korea be bothered in the least by the US not going ahead with a trade deal that never included South Korea in the first place?

I mean, seriously. Who would ever, ever think, "Well, you were going to join a trade deal that excluded us, but now you're not, so how can we trust you to adhere to your explicit treaty commitments to us to which you just loudly reiterated your dedication?"

Okham's razor is Tyler thought South Korea was a signatory.

Ah, I just assumed they were part of the negotiations since Tyler mentioned them.

Now I see a WP article saying that the U.S. told South Korea it couldn't join negotiations back in 2015, and could decide to join once the deal was completed.

Was Tyler concerned about the message our excluding South Korea sent them at the time?

I mean, really. One of my biggest annoyances with public debate over the TPP has been the fact that nobody engaged in the debate seems to have any idea who is involved in the treaty, even the supposed experts. It's not some people know and their opponents don't, it's that nobody side knows enough to notice big gaping mistakes made by the other.

I mean, I can't rattle off all twelve members from memory or tell you for sure if it is Peru or Columbia that's in without checking. (Peru, as it happens.) But there's only one largish rich East Asian country involved (Japan), only one largish middle-income one (Malaysia), and only one largish poor one (Vietnam). And everybody else is some combination of at least two of small, not in East Asia, and already in a recent trade agreement agreement with the US. The only one of the "everybody else" that really matters at all from a US policy perspective is Mexico, since TPP would pretty much preempt any Trump negotiations with Mexico.

Sorry but despite his brilliance Tyler can be full of horse puckey sometimes.

Faith in the US support started to fall when Obama got involved all over the Mideast and just cut and ran. They allowed the Chinese to put islands all over SE Asia and even militarize them without a peep. In contrast, TPP was mostly a means to force Asia to knuckle under to the demands of the patent and copyright lobbies of Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

What Asia really cares about is whether or not the US will back Asia with force. Obama made clear that he can draw a red line in the sand, while being proud of simply backing down from his bluff. And the mayor of Tokyo used to give speeches that proposed their rearming inasmuch as a few casualties in Iraq seemed to be enough to make the US cut and run.

Asia understands force and credible commitment. And in this sense Bush was far, far more credible than the O. Trump is definitely more credible than O. I bet the Asians will trust him more as he confronts China despite any bs that is spwed about trade.

Faith in the US declined after Bush invaded Iraq for no good reason.

Obama's withdrawal from Iraq was pursuant to previous agreements, which had been delayed several times, and was consistent with the wishes of the eelcted government of Iraq.

I appreciate that this spread is in Teen Vogue; the sooner we educate people on economics, the better they will understand it. I would like to know more about the TPP, what it's goals are in the books and what the goals are that are actually being worked for. The TTP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership, is a "multinational trade agreement (similar to the European Union [EU]) that included the United States as well as Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Chile" (Webster). It is Trump's plan to get rid of the TTP. But, why?

One of Trump's goals, or one that he says is a goal, is to put "'America first'" (Webster). Withdrawing from the TTP would, in theory, increase trade within the United States to abolish risking exporting less than what we are importing, and therefore losing money. To make it appear that he is not trying to damage the other countries, he is wanting to negotiate NAFTA, or the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is "an agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada that outlines rules for trade and investment among the three countries" (Webster). Another theoretical benefit of these negotiations is to give more American jobs to Americans by sending people from different countries back home.

This is an issue, since it has been proven that economies grow more rapidly when they have unrestricted trade. If we send home everyone who was not American, only the Native Americans would be left. It is uncivil to decide who is an American and who is not based on birth. If we use the definition of American by birth, then sending home everyone else would lead to either a lot of job openings not able to be filled or those jobs being filled by people who are unqualified. America is not the strongest nation for education, and so we have to fill higher-level jobs with someone else. Do you want a person with only a B.S. in Biology to conduct your surgery? I don't think so. This will lead to global structural unemployment.

In conclusion, maybe we should not withdraw from the TTP. It is through unrestricted trade that we will all grow. By putting these barriers up, we will have to better our education or make it cheaper so we can fill those job gaps. We want our unemployment as low as possible, so preparing Americans for those higher-level jobs will keep American jobs American.

Source: Webster, E. S. (Mar. 1, 2017). The TPP: What’s next for America and the other 11 countries. Teen Vogue. Retrieved from

I appreciate that this spread is in Teen Vogue; the sooner we educate people on economics, the better they will understand it

Yeah, this article is *much* more high-brow than I remember Teen Vogue being!

I'm sure the points are made above in the hundred-odd comments already here, but (1) Korea isn't part of the TPP (though they are part of China's RCEP negotiations), and (2) Koreans shouldn't be placing much weight on American verbal commitments to defend Korea.

Even if they are sincerely meant, they can also see the mood of the American public in response to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and more lately the bloodshed in Libya and Syria. And they can judge how many American deaths would result from American intervention in Korea and compare to the deaths in the Middle East. The American public is not keen on war. But revenge? Ah -- that is a different matter. We have 30,000 troops in Korea, and to the extent they are in forward positions near the border, a large number of them will probably die or be injured in any attack from the North. That is why the US can be depended on to defend Korea -- there will be American blood spilt in any attack. That has nothing to do with TPP. The signal to Korea of American disengagement will be the rolling up of American bases. We've actually done a lot of that under Bush II and Obama, but there's still a number of bases up near the border, close enough to provide that implicit security guarantee.

Different calculus for Japan, though -- they were actually part of TPP, and they have a lot more tenuously defended territory (now claimed by China) where the amorphous US security guarantee means a lot more.

As for the smaller Asian countries that Cowen says are “sort of torn between the Chinese orbit [and] the American-Western orbit” — like the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam — he imagines they’ll ultimately move toward aligning with “the less free, more local power.”

“I think that’s very bad for a few hundred million people,” he says. “I think it means they’ll never quite aspire to be really free, fully well-functioning democracies, because their biggest ally, China, won’t really want it. I don’t think China is going to enslave them in any way, but it will be [a situation in which they’ll] have to toe the line and not criticize China, and control [their] own press somewhat and kind of manage everything in a particular way. I think that’s what it would mean for the future of that whole region.”

That's remarkably short sighted. It's a very black-and-white, non-subtle, caveman-like way of looking at things: that these smaller countries will suddenly become China's bitches if they sign a trade agreement with China.

Many of China's largest trading partners are democracies, and many democracies have China as their largest trading partner. Has China placed any restrictions on their media or of aspirations to be "really free, fully well-functioning democracies"? It is not clear why those countries will not aspire to become fully functioning democracies just because they are part of a free trade agreement. There is hardly a single example of China forcing another country to control their press in some way. At most, there may be restrictions against inviting the Dalai Lama and the like, hardly an issue of concern to voters of these countries.

Moreover, the examples provided don't really help Tyler's point in any way. The opposite in fact. Vietnam recently announced that it will negotiate the South China Sea dispute bilaterally with China. The Philippines under Duterte is already pivoting towards China. Thailand will no doubt follow suit. Laos and Cambodia are already there. "Sort of torn" indeed.

There is also no case where China has actually - covertly or overtly - caused regime change in a sovereign nation - something that is a core American value and central to US foreign policy. It is not very fashionable to say these things because the mainstream press doesn't, but facts are facts. Since WWII, the US has:

1. Attempting to overthrow more than 50 governments, most of them democratically-elected.
2. Attempting to suppress a populist or national movement in 20 countries.
3. Grossly interfering in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
4. Dropping bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
5. Attempting to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.

Sources here, here, here.

Sadly, the surreal logic here is simple enough to understand: Free Trade Agreements are good, but only if you sign them with the United States.

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