WND column

Free Trade Harms America

One of the more onerous aspects of being a superintelligence is the way in which many critics have a tendency to erroneously assume one is operating at the same level of near ignorance that they are. In response to the inaugural Voxic Shock podcast, in which I interviewed economist Ian Fletcher about his book, “Free Trade Doesn’t Work,” a number of free-trade champions actually attempted to appeal to David Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage, which utilizes an example of trade between two countries in two products to argue that trade is intrinsically beneficial to a national economy.

I am never sure whether to be more amused or insulted when I am met with a critical response of this kind. Possessing a B.S. in economics, having published a book on economics and the current economic depression and being one of the millions of college-educated Americans who have passed an Econ 101 class, I am, as it happens, familiar with the theory. Furthermore, I have actually read Ricardo’s 1817 book, “On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation,” which contains the theory and what passes for the reasoning behind it. This does not appear to be the case with most of the free-trade enthusiasts who appeal to it.

Note to the column: This column contains the promised empirical evidence that Felix was demanding. On a related note, if you have not yet heard my interview with Ian Fletcher on the subject of international trade, it is on the Voxic Shock #1 podcast. And further to the subject, a critique of Hazlitt’s chapter 11 will be posted tomorrow.

Readership and other trivialities

Being an armchair economist, I often find it interesting to look beyond the obvious numbers given the way they are so often misleading. For example, a few years ago, I used to be the third most-read WND columnist behind Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan. Ann was head-and-torso beyond everyone else, and while I occasionally gave Pat a run for his money, his readership was usually ahead of mine by a decent margin. It’s been a while since I last looked into the matter, and since I no longer have direct access to their servers – I prefer to email my columns in so I didn’t bother to ask for it after one of the occasional structural reconfigurations – I began by looking at the Facebook Likes that are now attached to each column.

Unsurprisingly, by this metric, Ann Coulter is still the queen of WND. Here are the Likes for her last four columns compared to a few other selected writers, in order of average Likes.

232.0: Ann Coulter (253, 75, 243, 357)
75.5: Chuck Norris (39, 169, 60, 34)
41.5: Vox Day (60, 40, 40, 26)
35.0: Thomas Sowell (34, 36, 52, 18)
22.0: Ilana Mercer (15, 11, 56, 6)
13.5: John Stossel (19, 5, 19, 11)
10.0: Chrissy Satterfield (29, 11, 0, 0)
9.8: Pat Buchanan (18, 9, 1, 11)

From this, one would quite reasonably conclude that Ann’s columns are much more read than anyone else’s, something on the order of five times more than mine. Chuck’s average is high, but it’s bumped up significantly by one outlier of a column entitled “The Self-Destructing Republican Party”, which went over extremely well with Republicans terrified that their leadership is going to blow their opportunity to knock off Obama. In looking at the actual readers of those same columns for Buchanan, Coulter, and Day – which I requested and cannot directly divulge, but suffice it to say they are in excess of my blog numbers – my WND readership is now 60.7 percent of Miss Coulter’s, which is up more than 10 percentage points from several years ago if I recall correctly.

What I found both interesting and slightly depressing is the fact that Chatterfield’s columns are now more liked, on average, than Pat Buchanan’s. This tends to suggest that WND readers have become more partisan and less partial to intellectual weight as their numbers have grown. While Mr. Buchanan’s readership numbers have not actually declined over time, they have declined in a relative manner as my WND readership is now 122.9 percent larger than his. Of course, it must be kept in mind that although his columns were available elsewhere before, it is entirely possible that many of his biggest fans do not read him at WND, but prefer to read him at The American Conservative instead.

It’s also worth noting that the difference in the size of the Like gap and the readership gap between Coulter and myself tends to indicate that while many WND readers are willing to read my column, they don’t like them all that much. Which makes an amount of sense, given that WND’s conservative Republican readership are likely to hold opinions that are more in line with hers than with my radical libertarian iconoclasm.

Regardless, because I am unwilling to cede primacy of position to Miss Coulter, however much she merits it, (or however little she values it), I intend to resort to cheatingnew tactics. Now, I like to think that I am unusually good at interviews because I am apparently one of the very few interviewers who makes a habit of a) reading the book or the relevant information beforehand and b) letting the interviewee talk as much as he likes in answer to my questions. However, I have done very few interviews in the last year because it is a tedious and lengthy task to transcribe them.

The solution being entirely obvious, I’m pleased to say there will soon be a second weekly Vox Day contribution appearing on WorldNetDaily. The initial subjects will include economist Ian Fletcher, Karl Denninger of the Market Ticker, and the eminent historian John Julius Norwich, among others. I am also in the process of putting together a Joel Rosenberg retrospective which will feature several notable science fiction and fantasy authors.

WND column

This is No Double Dip

One reason I prefer economics to finance is that timing has never been my strongpoint. I thought the tech bubble was going to pop in 1998. I wrote a column in 2002 that commented on the expansion of the housing bubble and noted that this was likely to have a negative effect on the global financial system, but never imagined that the bubble could go on as long as it did or that real-estate prices would rise to such elevated levels. So, given this track record of prematurity, it should be no surprise that it has taken longer for the economic consensus to recognize that the global economy is caught up in a very large economic contraction than I anticipated.

But it is coming, nevertheless. Consider the following two headlines from last week:

– Drudge Report, June 1, 2011

“U.S. house price fall ‘beats Great Depression slide'”
– The Independent, June 1, 2011

WND column

Marital Roulette

There has been an amount of discussion of a marriage strike in recent years as various male and female commentators alike attempt to explain the continuing decline in marriage rates throughout the advanced nations of the West. As more and more men have become aware that women file for most divorces and that family courts are now little more than thieves’ dens designed to funnel financial resources from men to women by any means or legal-sounding excuse necessary, they have understandably become considerably more marriage-averse.

WND column

The False Hope of Herman Cain

For an activity that nominally purports to concern itself with leadership, politics is essentially a game of tail-chasing. In a two-party system, or more accurately, a bifactional single-party system of the sort we suffer here in the United States, winning national elections is usually considered to rely upon slicing off a critical two percent from the least-committed, least-principled, most moderate portion of the other faction’s supporters. Since the winner of the previous election succeeded in claiming critical center, it is customary for the losing party’s next candidate to in some way mimic the previous winner in an attempt to reclaim the crucial minority.

So, it should come as no surprise that after having been ambushed by Barack Obama’s unexpected defeat of an uncharacteristically inept campaign by Hillary Clinton, some Republicans have decided that they need a “magic negro” of their own.

WND column

R.I.P. President Daniels

Mitch Daniels has not yet declared that he will run for the Republican nomination for president. In truth, he is an unlikely nominee, despite the half-hearted cheerleading he has enjoyed from the likes of Fox News and National Review, who appear to have latched onto him in lieu of their first love, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. It has been reported that the Bush family is supporting the current Indiana governor and former budget director for the Bush 43 White House, presumably because they understand that neither the nation nor the party has any appetite for a third President Bush – this time Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – after the debacles over which his father and his brother presided.

WND column

The End of Europe

Few Americans realize that the European Union is among the most deceptive institutions on the planet. It is even less democratic than the Third Reich ever was, with ambitions that rival the erstwhile thousand-year plans of the late, unlamented Reichskanzler.

Born amidst deceit and lies that dwarf those told by the most famous 20th century titans of mendacity, the Eurofascists not only kept their totalitarian political aims under wraps, but outright denied that they had any intention of infringing national sovereignties. For more than 40 years, they swore up and down that their only objectives were economic, until the moment that their vast bureaucratic infrastructure appeared to be sufficiently emplaced to permit a naked grab for overt political rule.

But fittingly, since economics was the sword they used to conquer an unwitting Europe, economics is also the sword by which their dark visions of a Fourth Reich will die

NB: I note that I am no longer one of the very commentators anticipating the demise of the European Union:
The vision of a united Europe still has a powerful hold on the elites of Europe, who see the transfer of power from nation-states to an unelected bureaucracy as insurance against future wars and, if truth be told, a relief from democratic pressures. In addition, the prospect of a euro that would replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, or at least weaken its role in world trade, has a powerful hold on the French, who make no secret of their antipathy to Anglo-Saxon capitalism. The “European project” won’t go quietly into the night. But it just might go noisily into the ashcan of history if the Germans decide they cannot convert the Greeks into hard-working, tax-paying euro-citizens worthy of continuing handouts.

NB2: Holy cats, I didn’t notice this on the first read-through:
“Ireland’s debt now appears to be bigger, in relation to its economy, than the reparations imposed on Germany after the First World War,” according to economist Anatole Kaletsky.

WND column

More Questions than Answers

It is truly remarkable to witness the speed with which the mainstream and conservative media have revised their collective opinion about Obama’s birth certificate. The reader may recall that for most of the last three years, the media have been insisting that Obama released his genuine birth certificate when, in fact, all he had released was the short form “Certification of Live Birth.”

WND column

The Problem with Evil

The fact of the existence of evil troubles many individuals, religious and irreligious alike. Numerous strategies have evolved for dealing with it, from denying it like the Buddhists, enduring it like the Stoics, combating it like the Christians or redefining it like the Marxists. But regardless of the method one chooses, there is observably something to which all of these people from the panoply of religious and philosophical creeds are responding.

WND column

Hell is for Human Trash

The Christian concept of hell has proven to be a strangely difficult one to accept for a species that has developed the concepts of capitalism, natural selection and the survival of the fittest. And it is an odd world in which metal bands contemplate the theology of damnation in a more sophisticated and intelligent manner than religious ministers – one cannot reasonably call them Christian – of national standing.

NB: this is the TIME magazine article to which I refer in the column.