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A Shining Light in Campus Free Speech Suppression

TownHall Latest columns - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 19:00
As Americans, we speak our minds. Its the quintessential American quality.

Andrew Yang vows mass pardon to all imprisoned for nonviolent marijuana offenses

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 18:48
Entrepreneur and Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang told a crowd in New Hampshire on Friday that he would pardon every prison inmate convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses if he was elected.

Trump suggests 'setup' after Tlaib rejects Israel's invite: 'Israel acted appropriately!'

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 18:17
President Trump suggested that Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., may have tried to set up the Israeli government after she backed away from her stated intention to visit her grandmother in the Middle East nation.

DOJ files brief with Supreme Court opposing workplace discrimination claims by transgender workers

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 18:05
The Justice Department is signaling its opposition to providing federal protections for transgender employees who claim discrimination on the job.

Obama reportedly told Biden he didn't have to run in 2020

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 14:25
Former President Barack Obama repeatedly expressed his doubts about former Vice President Joe Biden running in 2020, telling him that he didn't "have to do this."

Push for 'red flag' laws, background checks gains steam in wake of mass shootings

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 13:42
The push for so-called "red flag" laws and stronger background checks is gaining steam amid apparent support from President Trump and Democrats in Congress in the wake of the two mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, though it presents a delicate challenge for the president as he works to assure his supporters that he will "always uphold the Second Amendment."

‘Bible tax’ no more: Trump exempts religious items from China tariff list

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 13:21
President Trump is exempting Bibles from upcoming tariff increase on Chinese goods after book publishers warned against a possible "Bible tax."

Trump huddles with team amid Afghanistan concerns: ‘Negotiations are proceeding’

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 12:44
President Trump on Friday met with his top security officials on the way forward in Afghanistan -- possibly moving toward a phased withdrawal, something critics warn could lead to the Taliban taking hold of the country once again. 

Liz Cheney calls out AOC on 'phony gender discrimination' claims: 'She hurts all women'

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 12:20
House GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., defended Israel on Thursday and blasted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., over "phony" claims that the nation discriminated against her collagues.

Appeals court sides with Trump administration on asylum rule, limits injunction

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 11:44
A federal appeals court sided with the Trump administration on Friday in the legal battle over its efforts to limit asylum claims from Central America – blocking, for now, a nationwide injunction that blocked the implementation of the rule.

Beto O’Rourke embraces gun licensing plan he once said could go ‘too far’

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 11:25
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on Friday called for gun licensing, banning assault weapons and a mandatory buyback program for certain firearms as the former congressman from Texas unveiled his plan to combat gun violence and white nationalism.

By the time we got to Woodstock…

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 11:12
President Trump uses New Hampshire rally to attack Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden who are leading Democrats in a recent Fox News poll.

Warning signs for Sanders as Warren sees polling surge, in 2020 race shake-up

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 10:30
More polling evidence emerged this week that Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts may be eclipsing Bernie Sanders for second place in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, a development sure to rattle the already agitated campaign of the senator from Vermont. 

Economic Populism on the Left and Right Is Poisoning US Political Discourse

Cato Recent Op Eds - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 10:30

Ryan Bourne

In a 1964 US Supreme Court case, Justice Potter Stewart famously realised the difficulty of defining hard-core pornography. Conscious of setting an arbitrary threshold for “obscenity”, he admitted defeat, concluding: “Perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it …”

Economic populism is similarly hard to define. Yet there is plenty of it around in the US and, whether it be Democrat presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders on the Left or President Donald Trump and Fox News host Tucker Carlson on the Right, we should know it when we see or hear it. The stakes mean it’s too important not to.

Plenty of conventional descriptions of economic populism are inadequate. Often the term is used to signal disapproval of a policy idea — a sort of “neoliberalism” moniker for the age of Trump and Brexit. Left-wing chattering classes believe that both are “populist” movements, and thus anything they do must, by definition, be “populist” too. For these commentators, populism is just another term for demagoguery.

Others wrongly see populism as synonymous with widely popular, but misguided, “common sense” economic ideas, such as “cutting immigration to raise wages”. Its defining feature is supposedly how it ignores or dismisses the knowledge of professional economists, exemplified by Michael Gove’s declaration that “we’ve had enough of experts”. Populism’s opposite, in this view, is technocracy or “expert rule.”

But neither of these definitions get to the heart of trends dominating American politics. Listen to Trump or Warren long enough and clear patterns emerge that trigger your inner economic populism alarm.

Most obvious is the way issues are framed. Populists pitch themselves as true representatives of “the people”, struggling to overcome some “elite” who undermine “the people’s” interest. Populism’s first characteristic is to divide society between a supposed broad interest and an establishment elite quelling it.

Villains and their supposed crimes can differ. For Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, those rigging the system to our detriment are the rich; mega-corporations; fossil fuel companies; big tech; and pharmaceutical firms. They supposedly buy elections, resist needed welfare programs, rewrite regulations in their interests, stitch up trade deals that undermine workers, rip off consumers and profiteer off our health.

For Trump and Carlson, the nefarious elites instead are the Chinese, the cultural America-loathing Left, useless past negotiators and presidents, international institutions and, again, big tech companies. Their misdeeds? Selling out or ripping off American workers on trade; wanting to flood the country with migrants who hate it; and stamping out conservative voices on social media.

A key feature of populism as a “thin ideology” then is the idea of an elite working against broad majoritarian interests. Populists can disagree on who the “elites” and “the people” they represent are, although it’s remarkable how often they agree that corporate America is an enemy. The opposite of this populism then isn’t elitism, but pluralism — the idea that multiple identities and interests can compete and coexist within a free society.

Economic populism, almost by definition, is therefore anti-market. A healthy market economy is characterised by individual choices, voluntary trades and individuals pursuing their own self-interests. Our wealth comes from bottom-up activity, not top-down decisions. Claiming that a political representative of “the people” knows better how to achieve aggregate goals than a free people erodes any sort of limiting principle on government action. Paradoxically, populism produces demands for new restrictions on transient business “elites” in favour of emboldening another elite, government officials, working in the politician’s name.

But what makes populism doubly dangerous is the way its practitioners imply there are big wins out there for “the people” available at no cost. Populists’ policy programmes claim the elites are denying us something that the self-styled people’s representative can deliver to us. Crucially, and distinctly, they claim they can do so without trade-offs, lost opportunities and unintended consequences.

President Trump didn’t make the case that building a border wall to reduce illegal immigration would just be net beneficial for US taxpayers. He claimed that Mexico would pay for it entirely. Putting tariffs on China wasn’t justified as a necessary evil to bring the Chinese into negotiations. Trump claimed Chinese companies would pay them, with no effect on American consumers.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren promise major expansions of the US welfare state in a European direction — “wins” for ordinary people that wealthy interests supposedly deny Americans through their political lobbying. Again though, both wave away claims this will require European levels of indirect taxation or that anyone would suffer worse healthcare under a socialised system. It is “the rich” elites, of course, who will pay.

Occasionally, reality intervenes. President Trump this week delayed additional tariffs on a host of imported Chinese goods, saying he didn’t want to hurt American shoppers before Christmas. In one swoop, he blew his “China pays” rhetoric out of the water.

Similarly, you could see Bernie Sanders’ facial panic in a recent debate when it was pointed out that paying US government rates for all treatments would lead to widespread hospital bankruptcies.

But populist stances, once adopted, are difficult to shake off. Once “elites” have been identified as enemies, it’s difficult to rehabilitate them and argue their success strengthens society. Once trade-offs have been dismissed, it’s difficult to warn people that something might prove costly to them.

Populism is poisoning the US economic discourse. The very idea of a majoritarian interest rides roughshod on its liberal and limited government inheritance. Its dismissal of trade-offs ensures an arms race of “wins”, which somebody else will pay for.

Let us hope that Americans, like Justice Stewart, recognise “populism” for what it is, and check its growth before it’s too late.

Ryan Bourne is the R Evan Scharf Chair for the Public Understanding of Economics at the Cato Institute.

Israeli minister rips Tlaib for nixing trip, says ‘her hate for Israel’ overcomes ‘love for her grandmother’

Fox News (Politics) - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 10:09
Israel’s interior minister tore into U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib on Friday for abruptly canceling plans to visit family in the West Bank after the government granted permission for the trip in a bid to smooth over a diplomatic firestorm.

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