Patterico's Pontifications


Highlands Ranch Students Walk Out on Gun Control Promoting Politicians [Updated]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:02 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Well, well, well — this is kind of a man bites dog story.

Vigils were held Wednesday night in Highlands Ranch as the community gathered to honor an 18-year-old shooting victim who was killed Tuesday, to recognize teenage heroes who intervened and likely stopped further carnage, and to thank first responders who rushed to the deadly scene.

The tone changed during the second vigil at Highlands Ranch High School, as STEM School Highlands Ranch students burst into a spontaneous demonstration, protesting politics and the media.

The protest, in the form of a walkout with chants, happened after Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democratic presidential hopeful, and Congressman Jason Crow, spoke to the crowd.

Students, several hundred strong, chanted “Mental health” and complained about the media in derogatory terms.

You can read the rest of this Denver Post article, yet the very gentle tease in the third paragraph quoted above is as close as you are going to get to the real story: that these students objected to these two Democrat members of Congress building a gun control podium upon the body of their dead classmate Kendrick Castillo — who incidentally died a hero’s death confronting the gunman — in order to push for laws that almost certainly would do nothing to prevent these further sorts of tragedies.

How awkward it must be for the Post, with a reliably left-leaning editorial board along with typical mainstream media myopia on virtually every topic, to have to confront the fact that these young men and women see through their agenda. After all, the conventional wisdom these days is that young people will usher in the next wave of progressive reforms by adopting any number of socialist, big government policies, even if, as the right-wing bed-wetters want to tell us, it means turning their back on Constitutional liberties. But maybe there really is a silent majority of teenagers and young adults who are tired of being force-fed this narrative and are beginning to understand that the crybullies’ agenda is riddled with logical fallacies. ABC News reports that the vigil, such that it was, was organized by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a fact that the Post didn’t see fit to mention. Imagine that.

It’s nice to know that a blowhard like Michael Bennett (it is certainly news to me that he is a 2020 Democrat Presidential candidate, but I guess all of them are right now) can get called on his nasty attempt to politicize a tragedy, and it should serve as a warning to ex-Army Ranger Jason Crow. He’s a freshman Congressman who beat a Republican incumbent in a swing district back in 2018, so maybe he will see this as a valuable lesson in not getting over his skis on an issue that has given his party fits in the Centennial State before. ABC News further reports that both Rep. Crow and the Brady Campaign have since apologized for turning the vigil away from supporting and comforting students and towards advocating for new gun laws, though nothing is mentioned about an apology from Sen. Bennett. Democrats, especially those who hope to present themselves as moderates, should really resist the urge to politicize every tragedy and turn it into one more reason to impose a big government solution.

UPDATE: Over at Powerline, Steven Hayward has the fantastic idea that this school ought to be renamed for Kendrick Castillo. I’m all for it.


General Note

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:23 pm

It seems to me that fewer people come here these days.

If I drive people away by expressing what I truly believe without regard to the conventional wisdom of the day, then I am driving away the right people — and it only makes me appreciate those who remain even more.

So thanks for reading.

Trump’s Tariffs Are Not About IP Theft

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:30 am

One issue that repeatedly comes up as a defense of Trump’s tariffs is China’s theft of intellectual property, or “IP.” This isn’t the real reason why he imposes the tariffs, though, and there are better ways to handle the problem — which is a real problem, albeit one that is exaggerated by tariff supporters.

Don Boudreaux explains why Trump’s tariffs are not motivated by IP theft:

For a number of reasons, I don’t buy this explanation of the president’s motives for imposing these tariffs.

First, because Trump repeatedly reveals his deep hostility to free trade, there’s no reason to believe that his tariffs are motivated only, or even mainly, by a desire to prevent IP theft. The likelihood is strong that the president and his trade advisers point to this theft merely as a convenient excuse for the protectionism that they would want under any circumstances.

Consider in this light Trump’s incessant yet misguided griping about the U.S. trade deficit with China. Because this trade deficit has nothing whatsoever to do with IP theft, we would hear no such griping if the main purpose of his tariffs were to protect American IP. The same can be said about Trump’s complaints about Beijing’s alleged currency manipulation.

I noted this just yesterday. Here is a recent Trump tweet:

His obsession is the trade deficit, which is actually a good thing, not a bad thing. It’s not IP theft.

Boudreaux continues:

Second, it’s nearly impossible for ordinary Americans to know exactly how much IP theft occurs in China. And so a protectionist administration, such as Trump’s, has powerful incentives to overstate the extent of such theft in order to amplify popular support for tariffs that are said to be imposed in retaliation.

Third, if Trump were truly interested in halting this alleged IP theft, his administration would file a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), which has explicit procedures for settling such a dispute. As far as I know, the administration hasn’t done so.

Fourth, Trump’s allegations of Chinese law-breaking are hypocritical and ring hollow given that his unilaterally imposed tariffs are themselves a clear violation of WTO rules — rules that the U.S. government has agreed to follow.

Fifth, Trump’s tariffs are first and foremost punitive taxes on Americans who buy imports from China.

But, you may reply, there still is an undeniable problem, even if Trump has motivation to exaggerate it and even if his current policy is motivated by economically ignorant mercantilism and an insufficient appreciation for the benefits of voluntary exchange unhampered by the coercive power of government. So what do we do about that?

This piece takes on several of the key complaints of protectionists and shows in detail that they are exaggerated, not unique to the Chinese, and that the Chinese are making improvements in these areas. The piece nevertheless acknowledges that China has failed to live up to international expectations and suggests a measured response that (unlike Trump’s tariffs) addresses the specific problems complained about — rather than doing what Trump’s tariffs do, which is to upend many beneficial transactions and impose costs having nothing whatever to do with the alleged problem.

Instead of the lose-lose policy of escalating tariffs, a policy of targeted response against specific infractions and more general diplomatic measures to encourage China to move in more proreform direction would yield better outcomes.

I hesitate to summarize those solutions here because it will keep people from reading them in their proper context. But I will say that one of the solutions is “targeted legal and administrative action against Chinese parties directly responsible for IP rights violations.” One of the companies cited is Huawei, which was indicted for stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile. But Trump has sent mixed messages about Huawei. He has even gone so far as to suggest that an arrested Huawei executive could be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations over a larger “deal” about tariffs.

When asked if he would intervene with the Justice Department in her case, Trump said in an interview with Reuters: “Whatever’s good for this country, I would do.”

“If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,” Trump said.

Not only is this creepy, it also incentives China and other countries to make bogus arrests of American businessmen, since the U.S. has set the precedent that such arrests can be negotiating tools. In short, Trump’s erratic nature makes all this very difficult.

The bottom line is that IP theft happens and it should be dealt with, but in a responsible way that doesn’t use it as an excuse for massive tariffs that have zero to do with the (exaggerated) IP problem and which hurt Americans — consumers and producers alike.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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