Legacy of Smoot-Hawley

This video (from 2011) held up just fine …

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act was a grave error for U.S. trade policy. As the United States slid into depression, the act represented a desperation move by Congress and President Hoover. Since then, presidents have regarded free trade as the rule rather than the exception. Economist Douglas A. Irwin discusses the Smoot-Hawley Act and its legacy.

Related: Here’s a brief history of U.S. trade policy with Irwin I recorded earlier this year:

The Terrible 32s

I sometimes wonder if the parents who chuckle knowingly at stories like these ever sense that they’ve utterly failed at the most basic child-rearing tasks:

Your 32-year-old may make outrageous demands incommensurate with the $87.04 in crumpled bills and pennies in her Mason jar. For instance: beginning the day with a $10 green juice after a night of picklebacks and one-dollar pizza; pursuing another M.F.A. degree; living in Park Slope “independently” instead of with four roommates.

Rather than flatly refuse, we recommend gentle compromise: suggesting she convert to canned V8; advising her to put her poetry and fiction M.F.A.s to use before plunging into the lucrative world of printmaking; and noting that “independently” suggests “without subsidies,” which, you’ve been meaning to tell her, are ending soon.

Still, it’s pretty funny. RTWT.

“Liberterian” Party in DC

Instead of yelling, “You had one job! One job!” about it, I’ll just draw your attention to this: an actual voter registration form for the District of Columbia:


Full image here. (Hat tip Heather Curry, who discovered this problem.)

Artisanal Filler Text

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Filler text courtesy Hipster Ipsum

All Hail Pope Bob!

Dr. Robert Anton Wilson was the author (along with Robert Shea) of the popular Illuminatus! trilogy, which won the Prometheus Hall of Fame award for science fiction in 1986. His other books have found great acclaim as well, many of them achieving “cult classic” status. Wilson has been described at various times throughout his life as a novelist, philosopher, psychologist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, civil libertarian and agnostic mystic.

In this video from the Libertarian Party’s Presidential Nominating Convention in 1987, Wilson treats the audience to a humorous and irreverent talk about everything from the state of world politics to a discussion on metaphysics, chemistry, and the nature of reality.

Download the mp3 version of this lecture here.

Sheriffs talk tough on Second Amendment (unnecessarily)

A number of sheriffs around the country (Oregon, Kentucky, Missouri, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah) have said they will refuse to enforce federal restrictions on private gun ownership that they find to be in conflict with the Constitution.

It seems like a bold threat, but it really isn’t. State and local law enforcement officials simply don’t have to enforce federal laws that they don’t want to enforce. That fact is not controversial. It is, however, a persistent issue in the federal versus state struggle over the marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington. Those states have simply chosen to stop assisting the federal government. It may complicate the feds’ ability to enforce those laws, but it’s just not as confrontational an approach as media reports have suggested.

Robert Mikos discussed this in his new paper with respect to marijuana laws, but the principles related to how states and federal powers interact is one that holds significant implications for the right to keep arms and the President’s health care law.

Mikos and I discussed the marijuana initiatives for a Cato Daily Podcast. You can also watch the forum.

Tim Lynch and I also discussed gun restrictions and federalism in a Cato E-Briefing last week.