jump to example.com

‘Libertarian’ Stossel marginally less statist than Trump

newspaper | @KevinCarson1 | Support this author on Patreon

Seemingly John Stossel never sits down to write without the goal of further lowering the bar for qualifying as a libertarian. This time (“My Trump Problem,” Reason, Nov. 11), he’s managed to push the criterion to the all-time low of being somewhat less statist than Donald Trump.

Stossel’s first problem with Trump allegedly centers on what he (Stossel) calls “free trade.” “Free trade,” he says, “is mutually beneficial. Everybody wins.” But Stossel goes on to make it clear he has no idea what “free trade” even means: “[I]t’s appalling when Trump calls trade agreements a ‘disaster’ and says he’d ‘punish’ Mexico with higher tariffs…” So if Stossel equates “free trade” to “trade agreements,” he’s really no more pro-free trade than Trump is. He just favors a different form of protectionism. Trump favors old-fashioned tariffs, and Stossel favors the kind of “intellectual property” protectionism which is built into so-called “Free Trade Agreements” and is actually their primary purpose.

“Intellectual property” is no less protectionist than tariffs, and indeed is arguably more so. Tariffs no longer serve the needs of transnational corporations. In fact they impede their business model, based on distributing production across globalized supply chains and importing finished goods produced under contract in other countries. “Intellectual property” serves the same protectionist function for corporations, on a global scale, that the now-outmoded tariffs once did back when American manufacturing corporations produced goods inside this country. Both tariffs and “intellectual property” serve the same function of giving the corporation a monopoly on the sale of a particular good in a particular market; the difference is that while tariffs operated at national borders, “intellectual property” gives the corporation a monopoly on disposal of the outsourced product wherever in the world it happens to be produced or sold.

So on “free trade,” Stossel isn’t even marginally less statist than Trump. In fact he may be more so.

On eminent domain, Stossel really does come out ahead of Trump — by a hair’s breadth at least. Trump flat-out calls eminent domain “wonderful.” Stossel, in contrast, says it “can be” wonderful — if, that is, “it’s put to important public use, say, claiming land for highways, railroads or a pipeline.” So eminent domain is corrupt “crony capitalism” when it’s exercised in the interest of local real estate interests — but an “important public use” when it socializes a major operating cost of large corporate interests on a nationwide scale.

The railroad land grants were a major component of the corporatist corruption for which the Gilded Age is infamous over a century later. They involved the total transformation of the American economy through the use of government power, with a centralized, high-capacity system of national trunk lines rendering artificially profitable the distribution of goods from national manufacturing corporations over nationwide wholesale and retail networks. The result was artificially large production units and artificially large market areas, which were profitable only because distribution was rendered artificially cheap and the big players were given an unfair competitive advantage over otherwise more efficient local producers.

The nature of the “public use” served by the Interstate Highway System is suggested by the “What’s good for GM is good for America” quip from former General Motors CEO Charlie Wilson, who oversaw the project. Not only did the project spark a new wave of concentration in food processing and retail, but it gave a massive government-subsidized boost to urban sprawl and the car culture — “good for GM” indeed.

As for pipelines, why is it illegitimate for Trump to use eminent domain to get land for a casino from an unwilling seller, or for a price they considered unacceptable — but totally legit to do the same thing to a farmer or Native tribe in order to subsidize the fossil fuels industry and provide artificially cheap inputs to energy-guzzling big business?

Once again Stossel demonstrates that, when we scrutinize the core of his “libertarian” principles, “there’s no there there.”


Street Knowledge with Chris Graham: Libertarian gubernatorial nominee Cliff Hyra

Chris Graham interviews Libertarian gubernatorial nominee Cliff Hyra.

Another new poll gives Northam big lead in Virginia governor race

One Virginia governor race poll released yesterday had Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie tied.

Poll: Trump unpopular in Virginia

President Donald Trump is well under water among Virginia voters, according to new poll results released by the University of Mary Washington.

The Petty Hearts bring Tom Petty tribute to Wayne Theatre on Sept. 22

Tom Petty tribute band The Petty Hearts are coming to the Wayne Theatre on Friday, Sept. 22.

Virginia Chili, Blues n' Brews Festival set for Saturday

The Virginia Chili, Blues n' Brews Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Saturday in Downtown Waynesboro.

Events Calendar

Upcoming events in the Shenandoah Valley, Central Virginia and statewide from the Augusta Free Press Events Calendar. Don't see your event listed? Email augustafreepress2@gmail.com.

UVA alum Chris Long to donate first six NFL game checks to fund scholarships

The Chris Long Foundation announced today that Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long will donate his first six game checks of the 2017 NFL season to fund two scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville.

Game Preview: VMI, Chattanooga look to get back on track on Saturday

VMI knew the 2017 football season was going to be a rebuilding year. Chattanooga, coming off a playoff appearance in 2016, had its usual high expectations.

Game Preview: UVA has a chance at Boise State

Vegas and the ESPN Power Index don’t give UVA much of a chance to win at Boise State on Friday night.

Street Knowledge with Chris Graham: First look at UVA-Boise State

Chris Graham and Scott German take a first look at the UVA-Boise State game set for Friday night.

Web Design, Marketing

Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including web design, TV/radio, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation.

Recent Posts
Your One-Stop Media Shop
Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including web design, magazine/brochure, TV/radio, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation.
  • Web Design

    You want a new website, but don’t have the first clue as to how to build one. That’s our job. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design and content development. Get your business online for as little as $1,299.
    Learn more about AFP Web Design services.
  • Graphic Design

    The staff at Augusta Free Press Publishing has been recognized by the Virginia Press Association for excellence in layout and design. Whether you need a fresh business card design, rack card, ad, flyer or full magazine design, we can help with all your graphic-design needs.
    Learn more about AFP Graphic Design services.
  • Marketing

    Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.
    Learn more about AFP Marketing services.