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⁣Are we Bribing Americans into Ruin?

Published on 09 Jun 2023 / In News & Politics

⁣Are we Bribing Americans into Ruin?

Phil Magness - Senior Research Faculty &


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On May 12th Rasmussen reported Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. had tied the White House Occupant among all voters for the Democratic primary. That’s so in part because RFK promised the
Peace Dividend was never delivered after Communism’s collapse in 1989. He would, then, transfer Defense spending to domestic infrastructure.

Back in 2016, many union members crossed party lines to elect Trump for promising to restore blue-collar jobs. This promise of domestic manufacturing, funded by taxes on foreign trade, makes a political slogan that goes back to our Founding. Thomas Jefferson, for example, worried in the 1820s that the freedom-loving Westerners would abandon their bootstraps mentality, to support Henry Clay’s “American System” for the same promise of jobs. Clay and his fellow “mercantilists” wanted a tax on imports called “tariffs”, and expenditures on “internal improvements” (such as roads, harbors & canals).

But has this protectionism ever worked?

No matter how little tariffs and pork projects fund the government or create sustainable businesses, voters fall for protectionism demagoguery - EVERY DARN TIME. How can we educate Americans about free markets and the promise of private-sector business?

Having taught and been educated at the market-oriented George Mason University, Dr. Magness tells the tale of Clay’s “American System”, and how it led to disunion and corruption of the American people. He offers a better plan for individual flourishing in today’s challenging times.

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