The Empire Strikes Back

Academics are not a complete waste of space.

The medical crisis does not demonstrate that free trade, open capital accounts and liberal immigration policies are a mistake. People taking to social media to suggest that closed economies could have better protected themselves are plain wrong. The fact of the matter is that toilet paper is manufactured in Australia. I have yet to see a shortage of imported manufactured goods.

The arguments for free trade remain as strong today as they did last year.

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22 Responses to The Empire Strikes Back

  1. egg_

    The medical crisis does not demonstrate that free trade, open capital accounts and liberal immigration policies are a mistake.

    In the parallel clown Universe.

  2. Sinclair Davidson

    Some academics are very wise.

  3. Shy Ted

    There are genuine academics and then there are acadumics (Catictionary). Cats know the difference, well, the vast majority of Cats.

  4. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    There are genuine academics and then there are acadumics

    There’s another sub-species known as “Quackademics”, aka “Medical Experts”.

  5. Tel

    The medical crisis does not demonstrate that free trade, open capital accounts and liberal immigration policies are a mistake.

    I’m fairly sure no one actually said that, but I’m willing to see a link.

    What the “open borders” crowd demanded was always 100% open borders all the time, come what may and regardless of any risk. Even a temporary shutdown was deemed unacceptable.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2020/02/01/why-travel-bans-dont-work-during-an-outbreak-like-coronavirus/

    She says that travel bans don’t work because:
    [1] Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security’s “Event 201” pandemic preparedness exercise says they don’t like travel bans.
    [2] Xenophobia is a real big word and Judy Stone has no freaking idea what it means but she sure gonna use it to maximum effect.
    [3] The virus can be spread before someone has symptoms so ahhh closing the borders won’t work (inexplicable).
    [4] The fomites are coming so because handles, pens and dishes can fly around the world all by themselves even after the airports are closed you will get it anyway.
    [5] The virus is in the shit, and the shit can fly around the world all on its own just like the fomites do.
    [6] Get this: “The messages from those international experts were quite clear about travel bans being counterproductive, potentially devastating economies.” Gosh the frigging experts say it might cause economic damage … good thing we dodged that bullet.
    [7] Patients will hide underground, and presumably tunnel into the country from underneath.
    [8] The World Health Organization says they don’t like travel bans, and hey they only were the ones helping conceal the problem in the first place, and then told everyone it wasn’t contagious which was a complete lie, so we should believe them.
    [9] Some irrelevant person from Johns Hopkins doesn’t like travel bans.
    [10] The “Precautionary Principle’ is a bad idea unless we are talking about global warming and then it’s a good idea, hey you aren’t a Climate Scientist (TM) so you wouldn’t understand.
    [11] Mention Xenophobia again with a bit of concern trolling.
    [12] The idea of a quarantine “is really difficult, especially on a large scale” so that’s why you should bring as many plague carriers into the country as possible (yup yup yup).
    [13] Influenza is worse at the moment so don’t worry about it.
    [14] Just Wash Your Hands (TM) and you will be fine.
    [15] “Hopefully the travel bans, which are not science based nor rational, will be quickly retracted. They may well worsen the toll of this outbreak.”

    So let me get this straight, it’s not science based to think that you can’t catch something from a person who isn’t even in your country?!?!? Only you know, common sense based.

  6. Iampeter

    Wow.
    Rafe is on the side of free trade now?

  7. Wood chipper

    As an aside: our toilet paper might well be manufactured here in Australia but it is made from imported pulp. No pulp: no toilet paper.

    Fortunately very little comes from China – most of it comes from South America and, mainly for the softness consumers demand, it is made from wood sourced from Eucalyptus plantations. Oh, the irony.

  8. Nob

    Sinclair Davidson
    #3379283, posted on March 27, 2020 at 4:08 pm
    Some academics are very wise

    And benevolent enough to paste paywalled articles into web forums that they run?

  9. Rafe Champion

    No I am just buttering up the Doomlord in case I want to touch him for a quid or a lend of his car sometime.

  10. Boambee John

    Elder son commented from Canberra recently that new freezers are unavailable there, I suspect that most come from Chi na.

  11. Herodotus

    New freezers “maybe end of April” we were told today at Good Guys. Fortunately we were only after a replacement second fridge, so no worries, in stock.

  12. Squirrel

    “I have yet to see a shortage of imported manufactured goods.”

    Except for the ones that we can’t get in sufficient numbers because the countries which make them are keeping them, or selling them to higher bidders/preferred customers –

    https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/global-race-for-ventilators-amid-coronavirus-crisis-20200316-p54ahm

    For obvious reasons of cost structures, scale etc., I doubt whether Australia’s response to this crisis will be an attempt (officially, or otherwise) to reconstruct the tariff walls, but there may be a somewhat more serious approach to the concept of strategic reserves – when things get nasty, globalisation + Just In Time does not look like such a clever formula.

  13. Roger

    Elder son commented from Canberra recently that new freezers are unavailable there, I suspect that most come from Chi na.

    Along with surgical masks and other meical equipment.

    Evidently all things are not equal in this putative world of free trade.

  14. Rob MW

    I have yet to see a shortage of imported manufactured goods.

    Obviously you have not been paying attention then. Coming into the current winter cropping production cycle and the main pre-sowing knockdown Glyphosate is in extremely short supply or non-existent in some areas as with most mainline per-emergent and post emergent Ag chemicals coming out of China. Even WG Glyphosate 680 coming out of South America is in extremely short supply.

    There are still remaining supplies of Paraquat, as a replacement for Glyphosate, as a result of not being well liked by spray operators/farmers because of its S7 status but it is still available to some degree.

    Our machinery retailers/service providers have advised that any replacement parts coming out of North America, not to mention China, will be severely delayed, by months, so any breakdowns could be very costly indeed. Case IH, John Deere and Versatile etc are all North American.

  15. Infidel Tiger

    This is the start of the great decoupling.

    Supply chains take years to adjust.

    Keep your combine harvesters in good nick please farmers.

  16. JC

    This is the start of the great decoupling.

    Supply chains take years to adjust.

    Keep your combine harvesters in good nick please farmers.

    You won’t need government sanction for this to occur. It will happen by itself as firms begin to view supply chain concentration as a risk management issue.

    No biggie.

  17. Rafe Champion

    I don’t know if builder/carpenter’s supply chains are disrupted but I warned my nephew in Tasmania to check where his things are coming from and be prepared to stockpile (sensibly). Also to talk to the other tradies who he calls to his jobs to find how they are placed.

  18. Sounds like you haven’t been shopping for a webcam this week. All imported, out of stock everywhere due to the home office rush.

  19. NoFixedAddress

    Rafe Champion
    #3379591, posted on March 27, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    No I am just buttering up the Doomlord in case I want to touch him for a quid or a lend of his car sometime.

    LOL

  20. NoFixedAddress

    Sinclair Davidson
    #3379283, posted on March 27, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    Some academics are very wise.

    But few and ‘social distanced’ between.

  21. Iampeter

    No I am just buttering up the Doomlord in case I want to touch him for a quid or a lend of his car sometime.

    I was being sarcastic.

    I know you’re not on the side of free trade, not a capitalist and not right wing.
    Which is why you blogging on a capitalist, right wing blog, thinking you’re fighting “the left” or something, is particularly entertaining.

  22. max

    Two people work better than one; together they can earn a good pay for their labor. For if one falls, the other can lift up his friend (Ecclesiastes 4:9).

    This passage is a defense of the benefits of the division of labor.

    The Myth of Rugged Individualism

    Individualism is rugged. It is rugged because it is inefficient. The division of labor benefits those who are less rugged. They can achieve together what they could not have achieved individually. The division of labor makes each of the participants more efficient. It also reduces risk for all participants. “One man alone can be overpowered, but two can withstand an attack, and a three-strand rope is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). The larger the community of cooperation, the less there is to fear from invaders.

    Beginning with Adam Smith, economic theory has always acknowledged the greater productivity of the division of labor. It has not focused on the decision-making of isolated individuals, with the lone exception of the analysis of a hypothetical Robinson Crusoe. He was a rugged individualist. That is to say, he was a low-output individualist.

    Free-market economic theory is a theory of voluntary exchange.

    Adam Smith’s Pin Makers

    “Those ten persons, therefore, could make among them upwards of forty-eight thousand pins in a day. Each person, therefore, making a tenth part of forty-eight thousand pins, might be considered as making four thousand eight hundred pins in a day. But if they had all wrought separately and independently, and without any of them having been educated to this peculiar business, they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin in a day; that is, certainly, not the two hundred and fortieth, perhaps not the four thousand eight hundredth, part of what they are at present capable of performing,”

    This description of a pin factory is an impressive illustration of the increased productivity that is made possible by the division of labor.

    the increased productivity and therefore increased national wealth that is the result of voluntary exchange. He was self-consciously arguing against government regulation of business enterprise. That had been the error of his predecessors a century earlier, whom we now call mercantilists.

    Free Trade

    Adam Smith was the great defender of free trade. He understood that free trade is basic to the wealth of nations. He argued against the mercantilists’ arguments in favor of government-managed trade as the basis of the wealth of a nation. He persuaded generations of economists. Yet his argument still fails to persuade millions of voters, who see free trade as a threat to them and their nation. They remain mercantilists.
    The doctrine of free trade should be defended in terms of the biblical concep of delegated ownership. Smith defended it as contributing to the specialization of production. This was how it increases the wealth of nations. This is a technical argument, not an ethical one. This was a strategic mistake intellectually, as Tom Bethell argues in his book, The Noblest Triumph (1998). Smith should have begun with property.

    https://www.garynorth.com/public/20372.cfm

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