Tag Archives: Free Trade

Two Very Stupid Trade Proposals

Andy Roth at the Club For Growth kindly sent around a list of trade-related provisions to some of the free trade folks.

I picked out two of the dumbest ones to share, and what would you know, they’re both sponsored by Ohio’s Marcy Kaptur!

Latest Title: Balancing Trade Act of 2013
Sponsor: Rep Kaptur, Marcy [OH-9] (introduced 1/4/2013)      Cosponsors (None)

What it would do:

To require that, in cases in which the annual trade deficit between the United States and another country is $10,000,000,000 or more for 3 consecutive years, the President take the necessary steps to create a more balanced trading relationship with that country.

Why it’s stupid:

Balanced trade is a harmful, arbitrary idea. If you think back to the comparative advantage example you learned in grade school, hopefully your teacher didn’t insinuate that country A needs to trade equally with country B. That would make no sense. The very point of comparative advantage is that countries are able to capitalize on using and trading the goods they make efficiently, and take advantage of the fact that other countries have their own comparative advantages.

Requiring balanced trade basically means you don’t want to benefit from comparative advantage, since you’re just saying we should all trade equally when it comes to the figures that represent the transactions of individuals in our respective countries. Only outliers like Ian Fletcher, labor unions and mercantilist rent seekers push for this idea. Thankfully, mainstream economists aren’t behind this idea, and it won’t go anywhere.

In short, this economically bad idea would restrict the ability of individuals to trade with other people who live elsewhere, all so an arbitrary balance sheet that isn’t a real deficit is made even.

Latest Title: Congressional Made in America Promise Act of 2013
Sponsor: Rep Kaptur, Marcy [OH-9] (introduced 1/4/2013)      Cosponsors (None)

What it would do:

To clarify the applicability of the Buy American Act to products purchased for the use of the legislative branch, to prohibit the application of any of the exceptions to the requirements of such Act to products bearing an official Congressional insignia, and for other purposes.

Why it’s stupid:

Should items bearing the seal of Congress be made in America? This is populist chaw, and I say no. Right now there are a ton of procurement rules that apply to the things Congress buys for itself, and laws that mandate jobs for blind folks making pens that date back to the Great Depression, while well-intentioned, are just unnecessary.

Does Congress really need made-in-America Fischer Space Pens, or Skilcraft pens made by disabled folks?

No, it doesn’t. It’s just a fluffy PR move to distract you from the fact that they’re passing bad laws day in and day out. A ten-cent bic pen works just fine, whether it’s made in the good old USA, Canada, Mexico or France.


This is Rich…

Jee whiz! One might think Chuck Schumer sounds much like a Republican. Despite calling for tariffs on numerous occasions in the past, Schumer is right in this instance that tariffs are bad policy. However, we have put tariffs on Canadian products — like timber. The U.S., Schumer in particular, needs to look in the mirror.

Maybe Chuck Schumer should work at eliminating taxes that hurt New York wineries here in the U.S. —  where he has a powerful vote on the Finance Committee. He has the power to repeal/reduce the taxes he’s voted for in the past few years that, no doubt, hurt wineries just the same as Canadian tariffs do.

Canada has no incentive to listen to Schumer, especially since the U.S. has pursued protectionist policies — including most recently a ban on Canadian companies bidding on certain federal infrastructure projects in the United States.

If Schumer really wants to help Canadian wineries, he’ll drop the protectionist two-step racket and favor free markets. That is the best way to get Canada to drop its tariffs. 

The Road Less Traveled

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is one of the world’s worst leaders. Poor Argentina, they are stuck with a leader who wants to adopt what I call “Cher Trade Policy” — namely that she wants to “turn back time.”

Buy American activists, protectionists and “fair traders” should take note: Argentina’s recent policies are where your ideas (if implemented) will take us. (I lump these three different groups together, I know, but they each are pushing for some degree of the same evil — opposition to free trade.)

Bloomberg Businessweek reports:

Since February, consumers and businesses in Argentina have found it increasingly hard to find various imported items—electrical equipment, certain prescription drugs, machinery parts, bananas, and salmon.

This cut-imports-at-all-costs ­campaign has triggered a backlash. The government announced in late March that all foreign publications entering Argentina would be held at Ezeiza International Airport outside Buenos Aires. The topic hashtag #LiberenLosLibros (“free the books”) was widely used on Twitter.

When governments impose barriers to free trade, they pick winners and losers. The winners are the domestic producers, the losers are producers who use related inputs, and consumers.

Seeing how the winner benefits is easy, but seeing how the loser suffers is often harder. It’s hard to see how bad trade policies can snuff out employment and economic activity in related industries, even though those losses are very real. Sadly, media coverage rarely talks about how anti-free trade actions can cause other people to lose their jobs, often eight times the amount of jobs supposedly saved. Consumers usually don’t know what the trade laws are, and rarely understand how bad trade policy hurts them.

Argentina provides an excellent case study that academics and liberal anti-free traders should pay particular attention to. When people think of protecting domestic industry, they think of things like cars and steel, rarely agricultural products and books.

Remember, a government big enough to give you what you want can take other things you like away. You can’t push for bad trade policies that don’t directly impact you, and then complain when they later do something you don’t like. Either you support government interfering in the trade of private individuals, or you don’t. (I’m in the latter camp.)

And if you think government officials are good at practicing what they preach, think again. Pay attention to this twitter quote from Argentinian Vice President Amado Boudou.

From his iPhone, he writes: “We are not against imports, we are looking after your jobs, we are looking after Argentine industry.”

Bloomberg notes the palpable irony:

Readers noticed that Twitter had registered the vice president as posting from an iPhone. Yet the government prohibits the sale of the Apple smartphone within its borders. The screen shot of the ironic tweet went viral. Should Argentines want an iPhone, as Boudou told reporters earlier, they’ll have to buy it in Miami.

Americans should take note: Anti-free trade advocates will sell you on nice-sounding mercantilist platitudes and false promises of prosperity. But if we enact what they are really pushing, we end up in a place where you have to go to another country to buy an iPhone, and have shortages of electrical equipment, some prescription drugs, machinery parts, bananas, and salmon.

How is that in any of our interests? It’s not. Argentina’s woes are very real, and worst of all, they were easily preventable. If we don’t push back against the luddites, protectionists, and economic malfeasants pushing stupid policies, your next iPhone might come from a trip you made to Ontario. 

I now own a bike

This is my new bike

Inspired by two of my co-workers’ recent bike purchases from Walmart, I decided to join the club and save money and live better buy buying a bike from Walmart. For the past 6 months my girlfriend Mary and I have discussed purchasing bikes, but we’ve never followed through (which is my fault.)

Unlike my colleagues, who had to commute to the Commonwealth of Virginia to have access to the awesomeness that is Walmart, I live relatively close to one. However, since I drive a small Honda Civic, getting a bike back home seemed a bit difficult, so I took the Richmond Highway Express bus (for $1) one stop to Walmart and went a searching for a new bike.

The problem is that Walmart doesn’t carry all of the same bikes in its stores. For 98 cents, you can have them delivered, but one would expect the true shipping price is built into the online price and why they don’t advertise all bike prices online — they vary from store to store. That makes sense. So, I did some advance research and used my Walmart app appropriately.

I did a little searching before I left and saw that the Walmart NEXT bikes actually got high ratings from consumers. I was kind of interested in this fixie, but the colors and the hills around my house ultimately put the kibosh on that. If I lived downtown that might have made a little more sense. Similarly, since I’m not Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers, a true “cruiser” was out the question. You can see downtown Washington from the hill behind my house, and it’s steep as hell. I need gears, but I don’t need a mountain bike.

With seven speeds, the NEXT Avalon seemed like a good hybrid, and nearly 90% of buyers on Walmart agreed. And it was made in China.

So, for roughly $140 — I bought a 1 year insurance plan, a lock and an air pump — I got a decent, light aluminum bike. When I was lacking a car for a few weeks in St. Louis I got a mountain bike at the Sports Authority in Brentwood. I was in much better shape then, and the ride to the Chase Park Plaza was much easier. Sadly, after a popped tire, I let the bike fall into a state of disrepair and eventually trashed it after I moved to D.C. (It didn’t help that I could only store it outside in Old Town Alexandria.)

As I left the store, I realized the tires needed some air, so the pump was a good purchase. As I biked up out of Walmart’s parking lot, I realized I am horribly out of shape. My legs burned. I guess that’s a good thing.

Aside from the tires, the brakes will need some tuning. Riding down Route 1 from Walmart is pretty much a big hill. I hit close to 35 miles per hour on the way down, and with inefficient brakes, that was a nightmare.

Adding to the frustration, Route 1 doesn’t have continuous sidewalks from Walmart to the intersection of Route 1 and Huntington Ave, so I had to cross the street a few times and ride through grass. So, avid bicyclists, I sort of feel your pain.

I only say sort of, because I still hate most bicyclists in D.C. — I bought the bike for convenience and exercise, and the occasional beer and grocery run. Even though I was plowing down sidewalk and grass on Route 1, I still managed to observe all traffic laws, which govern bicyclists and cars nearly in the same way in Virginia and the District. I stopped at all stop signs, stop lights that were red, and crossed only when I got the go ahead from the sign. And until bicyclists start paying for roads like car drivers do, I don’t think transportation policy should treat bicycles and cars as equals.

That said, I understand the mentality of bicyclists that traffic law shouldn’t apply to them. I mean, who wants to stop at traffic lights or stop signs? If I could be exempt from the laws in my car, I’d love it. It would make my commute and my errands that much quicker. However, cyclists are bound to traffic laws for the same reason cars are. Namely, mayhem on the road would be in nobody’s interest.

And to you critics of buying bicycles at stores like Walmart, I see no problem with it. I got an excellent bike for the price I paid and for the purpose I wanted it for. I see no reason to pay more for another bike at a local cycle shop because a.) I can tune it myself (because I am not an idiot), and b.) I don’t need an expensive bike.

If you are racing in the Tour de France, a professional cyclist, or an uber commuter, I get why you’d buy a performance bike elsewhere. I’m none of those things, so a Walmart bike is fine for me.

Similarly, many people decry the fact that Huffy bikes are no longer made in places like Ohio. Frankly, I could care less where the bike is made. Most people only subscribe to this idea nowadays because modern bikes don’t live up to the nostalgia of their more simplistic (and still likely foreign made) childhood BMX one speed bicycle. If trade can bring me a similar bike for a lower price, I’m happy to pay it.

Also, frequent cyclists might also be interested in Walmart’s good selection of bike related goods, too. 

Should we ban beer exports?

In a previous post where we examined the nonsense behind the “don’t export our oil!” hysterics, I wanted to use beer as a related example. Ultimately, I didn’t.

However, thankfully Beer Advocate came to my rescue.

To those who don’t think that U.S. companies should be able to export their oil, a few questions:

  1. Do you think we should enact the same policies for beer?
  2. Would stopping the export of U.S. beer keep prices low?
  3. If not, why would it for oil?

Of course, the answers should be obvious.

Gasoline Nonsense

A friend of mine who still works in Congress solicited my opinion on a trade matter, since that is a.) my favorite policy issue and b.) because I worked on it for four years.

A constituent asked his boss something along the line of the following:

Why do we export oil to other countries? It seems to me if we banned the export of oil to other countries, gas would be cheaper.

I remember often being asked similar questions as a staffer. It’s hard to answer this question in a convincing manner because most people (including Members of Congress and many staffers) do not truly understand how global trade, oil markets, and gasoline prices work.

Also, adding a degree of difficulty, many times the person asking the question is (sadly) an opponent of free trade. Which means they will never believe anything that is associated with a world market — they sincerely believe the world doesn’t have to operate this way. This is because they think that before World War Two, the world (and America) never really engaged in global trade.

Of course, this notion is very wrong, and people who think that should read these books:

A few thoughts on this topic. First:

It would start a trade war.

Banning exports of oil may have few short-term benefits if domestically produced oil is cheaper than other alternatives from foreign trading partners. However, not all oil is equal. Light sweet crude (West Texas Intermediate) and Brent blend crude (from the North Sea, England) are not the same. Some oils are found in multiple places, others only in one. The varying crude oils are used for different purposes based on their intrinsic nature, and the cost of converting them to a final product.

As the BBC notes in Understanding Oil Markets:

“Crude oil comes in many varieties and qualities, depending on its specific gravity and sulphur content which depend on where it has been pumped from.”

To think that we can just flip a switch and require domestically made oil to be sold in the U.S. would be a gross misunderstanding of commodities markets, and any attempt to interfere with this market will have bad unintended consequences.

Oil, like other commodities (including Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice) is sold by futures contracts:

In this type of transaction, the buyer agrees to take delivery and the seller agrees to provide a fixed amount of oil at a pre-arranged price at a specified location.

Meaning, some of the oil that we make domestically has already been bought, sometimes by foreigners. It would be pretty much legally impossible (and bad policy) to have the government invalidate those contracts.

This would spark a trade war, and the countries with whom the individuals we trade with reside would probably respond in equally harmful ways, screwing American companies and investors on their oil futures.

But what if we said: “OK, as of the completion of the last oil futures contract, all domestic oil must be used in the United States.”

This government interference would seriously distort the world market for oil.

It would:

  1. Probably result in other countries refusing to export oil to us,
  2. Lead to shortages of some sorts of oil or oil-derived products,
  3. Drive gas prices and the prices of oil-intensive domestic goods higher, and
  4. Potentially result in all of the above occurring.

Keep in mind that not all oil is alike, and it can be costly to refine that oil for alternate uses. This, too, would likely start a trade war because these barriers to trade would not only harm our consumers and producers, it would harm them across the globe. So, in addition to the direct harms caused by such a policy, a trade war would likely double down the economic pain, erasing any short-term economic benefit we may get.

Getting oil from other places far away can be cheaper than getting it from domestic producers

What are those red arrows traveling through? Oceans. Water is an extremely cost-effective way of transporting things, like oil. Imagine living in Fairfax, Virginia, and you are a car driver or a producer of some oil-intensive product. Price matters to you. What will be a cheaper and more efficient way of getting oil for gasoline or other uses?

(You can vote in this poll)

[poll id=”3″]

The answer, of course, is shipping it where you have an advantage in scale and cheaper transportation. Now, of course, the oil doesn’t come straight from Saudi Arabia to your local Hess Station. It  goes to the buyer of the futures contract, to its customers, through refiners, etc. before it gets to a gas station. (Not all oil is ideally suited for every purpose, which is why refiners exist.)

In some cases, like making Pepsi, refrigerators, or diapers, it makes more sense to source production closer to consumers. Shipping things like that across the globe can be costly, especially when diapers and fridges are mostly filled with air.

The market exists to allow individuals to put scarce resources to their most efficient use. That means that people across the globe buy and sell various types of crude oil for their optimal purposes, or absent that, their second most optimal purpose.

Restricting exports, a bad idea, will likely lead to our imports being restricted by others.

The President often focuses on exports, paying no lip service to the value imports have.  And while President Obama’s trade policies have been bad (see: trade war with Mexico), exports do create a lot of jobs. But we shouldn’t be encouraging one at the expense of another.

This also means that people are going to try and use their scarce resource of money in the most efficient way too.

People aren’t going to pick the most expensive option for producing something unless the government makes them, which is what an export ban would amount to, and why it is not desirable.

Artificial barriers to trade distort the market, and that usually means higher prices. Competition and free trade are good things, and our policy should be to impose as few barriers as possible.

(Addendum: I am pretty sure that an export ban would probably run afoul of our trade agreements and WTO rules, but since most anti-trade folks hate trade agreements and the WTO, I didn’t bother to check.)

Roy Lawson is Wrong

I read a great article in Businessweek that I shared on the daily links. I noticed a comment on the article from “Roy Lawson” which is so fraught with misunderstanding I felt it needed to be corrected. Though, his comments were entertaining!

The bottom line is that we cannot run trade deficits in perpetuity, yet if we follow the advice of free traders that’s exactly where we are heading. Do you really believe that consumers can continue to pile on more and more debt to support trade deficits?

He is wrong, because, yes, we can. We can run trade deficits forever and there is nothing wrong with that. A trade deficit is merely a tabulation of who trades what. It is not an actual deficit, like the one our government is running. Lawson probably believes the oft-repeated false claim that the trade deficit is a representation of reduced aggregate demand in the U.S., which is baseless and a frequent (and wrong) view held by Keynesians and protectionists.

He makes a claim that consumer debt has some correlation to trade deficits. There is no direct correlation between consumer debt and trade deficits, which often occur independent of a country’s consumer debt. Either way, it’s up to consumers (not government) to determine whether or not they are willing to take a debt to finance whatever they desire to purchase, be it goods like televisions or services like a college education. Student loan debt represents a greater percentage of overall consumer debt than credit card debt, for what it’s worth.

One need only to look at Hong Kong to see how a place with a robust free-market economy, very free trade, its own currency, and practically zero natural resources, has succeeded in being economically successful.

Also worth noting, is that most U.S. imports are inputs and not finished consumer goods.

Free trade dogma prevents you from soliciting any real ideas on how to achieve sustainable trade, which should be relatively balanced trade. You will even be so bold as to claim trade debts are a good thing – the US Chamber of Commerce makes this claim.

First off, what is “sustainable trade?” Oh, he means “relatively balanced trade?” Why would we care to achieve this? Why should we? What economic benefits come from balanced trade? Can he explain them to me?

Keep in mind that people, not countries, do the trading. Let say I buy something from Wal-Mart that was made in China. I, as an individual, bought it from Wal-Mart, which bought it from a supplier that either bought it or had it made in China. Aside from any tariffs imposed or subsidies provided, the exchange took place with no governments doing the trading. (While subsidies are bad policies in general, I am skeptical of efforts to make things “fair” in trade if other countries are dumb enough to pursue those policies.)

Since individuals trade, is Mr. Lawson suggesting that we require through the force of government policies that individuals practice “balanced” trade? Does balanced trade mean that you can’t consume more of a good or service from someone unless they consume an equal amount of goods or services that you provide? Does Mr. Lawson practice what he preaches? I doubt it. I know I don’t, and I don’t care. I don’t expect the butcher department at Wal-Mart to accept my providing them advice on economic policies, marketing, or web-design.

Maybe Mr. Lawson can take his views on “balanced” trade to a micro level and practice them at home. If so, I doubt I’d see him at the grocer any time soon.

So how about for every “protectionist” idea you criticize you produce an idea that will lead to sustainable trade?

Is this what he thinks is a balanced trade of ideas? If so, I am getting a raw deal. You mean that we free traders can’t just criticize the silly views held by protectionists like Lawson with facts and history? We have our idea — free trade is fine and dandy. Why do we need to kowtow to his asinine view that trade somehow be “sustainable” in whatever vague way the term is described?

Free trade is desirable because it conserves our labor supply, resources, and capital — ensuring that those resources are put to the best and most efficient uses. Following any other policy than free trade would ultimately require the government to stop people from trading with other people.

This either: a.) reduces overall economic activity, and/or b.) promotes inefficient economic activity. America is one of the world’s largest and dynamic manufacturers — building difficult things like medical imaging devices to airplanes. Should our policies really divert resources away from that and into building little green army figures? Either way, retarding free trade makes us poorer.

Currently, the typical views pushed by free traders support rewarding countries that cheat and punishing countries that play by the rules. You get punished in the game of global trade for protecting the environment, paying living wages, having healthcare, not allowing forced or child labor, and so forth.

This is a manufactured (and false) claim. People who support free trade, and I mean truly free trade, don’t think there should be any barriers to global trade. None. By what “rules” are he saying countries play by? Aside from things like the WTO and the UN, each country sets their own rules. His contention that free trade rewards countries that cheat and punishes those that “play by the rules,” or as he later puts it: protect the environment, pay “living” wages, have health-care and don’t have child labor is laughable.

A few reasons, but first, a thought: Any person that is living and working makes a living wage. I’d recommend coming up with a better moniker for such leftist propaganda. Maybe you could call it the “self-righteous-American-imposed better living wage” which I am sure would result in tons of employment (sarcasm).

I see no problem with child labor in the broad sense. I worked as a child, even in a factory one summer when I was 18. Each country can come up with its own laws, presumably based on their citizens’ values, and each parent can decide what is best for his or her child and family. And that’s sensible. What’s nonsensical is Lawson imposing his worldview on other people halfway around the globe, especially if it makes them poorer.

Nike has a new loom-type machine that weaves shoes, and it will likely mean that shoe manufacturing will leave China and Vietnam and source closer to U.S. markets.  Given the inventiveness of this device, lots of people over there will lose their jobs or have reduced hours, and thus, less income.  Imposing Lawson’s world view — which is what you do under calls for “balanced” trade — requires others to conform to his perceptions of how they should live will have the same effect: it makes people poorer.

I’m not worried about them because it’s a global market and other people will have a demand for the services their laborers provide. Just as India is no longer the call center outsourcing capital of the world, economies and the world economy evolves. Better to let it happen by economic forces, rather than have people like Lawson dictate how it happens.

In the late 1800s, most Americans worked on farms. Today it’s less than 1%, and we produce infinitely more food than we did back then. Similarly, in the 1900s, many people worked in manufacturing, but now less people do and we produce far more than we did back then. And yet, we can still produce all of these things (most of which we ourselves consume) with health-care, a good environment, higher wages, and a low amount of child labor. Yet, back then, we had lots of child labor, lower wages, and a worse environment before we got to where we are today.

We can now afford these policies, and are willing to pay for them. But can China? Who is Lawson to tell them how to live? And who is Lawson to tell me how and what to buy?

I’ll suggest a solution and no matter what that solution is you will cry “protectionist”. So it’s time to put up or shut up. You tell me how to implement both balanced trade and free trade at the same time – or shut up already!

The problem with Lawson’s logic here is that he assumes us free traders want balanced trade. We don’t. We don’t care, and we shouldn’t. Remember when you learned about comparative advantage and specialization of labor in, I don’t know, fourth grade? You know, with the “this state’s people make apples” and “this state’s people make furniture” example, did your teacher inform you that in this example that the consumers in those states were required to “balance” their trade? What if the furniture makers want more apples than the apple makers want furniture? Should the government step in and tell them how to consume and produce? (Answer: Lawson’s teacher didn’t likely teach him that, and I doubt yours did.)

There’s no difference in that example if they are apple makers in Ohio or apple makers in Canada. That’s the point of free trade, the borders are merely arbitrary. If Lawson seriously believe in promoting (read: requiring) “balanced” trade, surely then he’d support measures requiring each of the U.S. States to engage in balanced trade. Why limit it there? Why not counties, cities, households, people? You see how silly this sounds, but it is what Lawson is espousing.

Any deviation from truly free trade is essentially the government telling consumers who they can buy from, and how much they can buy — either making consumers directly poorer or others indirectly poorer. This is probably why Lawson calls our devotion to the principle of free trade “dogma,” because we feel people like Lawson are, frankly, people who hold viewpoints heretical to basic economics.

I have a solution that will lead to both free trade and balanced trade. But I want to hear yours. What do you have for me?

That’s what I have for Mr. Lawson. I’m not terribly interested in his solution because anything that requires or compels  “balance” (read: telling people how to live) is not free trade, and thus, not desirable.

Interesting read from Boudreaux.

Monday Links

Win Buffet

Apparently not a foul.

MR: Temporary vs. permanent increases in government spending

NYTimes: The Man With a Plan to Rebuild After the Apocalypse

Arlnow: Ghosts at Overlee?

LAist: New Close-up Footage of “Kony 2012” Filmmaker’s Breakdown

Gizmodo: Watch This Crazy Hercules Airplane Flying Just Five Meters Above the Ground (I don’t get why this is fascinating, it’s called landing, they do stuff like this all of the time)

My bracket is famous

Bloomberg: Beware Politicians Bearing Election-Year Trade Deals

Billiken Report: Two Seniors Brought Together For Good

Chi Trib: Manufacturing an economic myth (Nostalgia is no guide to sound policy)

Who lets 13 year olds go on spring break? To Mexico, no less!

Sports Grid: News Anchor, Upon Finding Out Peyton Manning Didn’t Sign With Her Team: “F-ck!”

Santorum endorses Romney

NBC: “This American Life” report retracted from PRI

Stoked Bill Self

Best Meme Ever: Paul Krugman

PostLocal: Metro actually fired people? Is the union asleep at the switch? | Metro releases new map (here it is)

Buzzfeed: The Dark Side Of Facebook Memes (Painful, but worth the read)

Poor Patrick Cox: TaxMasters files bankruptcy

Majerus on Mike and Mike

Landsburg: Some Questions for Uwe Reinhardt

Heaton: Avoiding hangovers

Pi Day Links


Al Jazeera: North Ugandans react in anger to Kony2012

Mitt Romney won Hawaii (but the news didn’t seem to focus on that last night)

MightyHeaton: The Pitfalls of Student Council

MR: The Taco Truck Mystery

WSJ Blogs: Coach Lavin answers my question about SLU’s hopes against Memphis

Deadspin: How To Watch The NCAA Tournament At Work

Examiner: CBO estimate of Obamacare nearly doubles

Examiner: Politico editor John Harris: Voters are stupid (More often than not, Harris is right)

BBC: Crossing a St Louis street that divides communities

New Student Loan Bailout Legislation to be funded with Imaginary Money

Emily Miller: DC’s gun law deception

CNet: Goodbye, cruel Google–an ex-employee’s lament

Um, yeah, it’s pie day

One one hand, the Longshoreman union loves trade with China, but on the other hand they oppose free trade agreements. This union is like a flighty teenage girl.

CBS Philly: Government Gridlock Leads To Toilet Paper Shortage In Trenton (Seriously? What a joke. Just go to Cost-Co and buy your own freaking supply.)

RollCall: Liberals join CATO squabble

Obama’s bracket [spoiler: he hates on SLU]

Gizmodo: Yahoo is out to burn the web

PJ: Better names for things

Cleveland.com: Cleveland Browns haven’t pursued QB Matt Flynn, not set to make offer, league source says

ESPN: Browns set to release guard Eric Steinbach

“It has been a good ride in Cleveland, and I hope it can continue,” he said in a statement. “I’m proud to say that the offensive line has been a bright spot through the past few seasons. I will continue to work with the Browns through my agent in hopes of striking a deal that is practical and fair for both sides.”

Steinbach then channeled his inner “Anchorman” when he added, “If my time here comes to an end, I want the people of this great city to remember one thing: ‘You stay classy Cleveland!'”

NYTimes: Why I am leaving Goldman Sachs

The double 1911

Gizmodo: Here’s what happens when DC is nuked

Thursday Links

The boat

This car is smiling at me

The Payroll Tax Cut debate reminds me of a Lewis Black Joke: Nobody got a $300 check, and looked at it and went “Son-of-a-bitch. Free at last!”

MR: Not from Atlas Shrugged

Boudreaux: On Will, the USSC, and Rent Control

Sallie James: Trade with China | Shut down the Ex-Im Bank

Goldberg: Free Healthcare? That’s Rich

Economist: Over-Regulated America

(Somewhat) Daily Krugman rebuttal 

Crews: How to Swap the Obama Budget for an Optimistic Economic Growth Agenda

Happy Birthday, LeVar Burton

WaPo: Do we really need another Kennedy in Washington?

Above the Law: Possible Criminal Charges for a Georgetown Criminal Law Professor

All of those horrible “think I do memes” in one place

Noahpinion: How I survived the Economics Job Market

Roll Call: The Boy Mayor’s Last Stand <- Boy Mayor = Kucinich

Atlantic Wire: Pinterest’s money making plans