Reflections on Protectionism In View of Taussig’s The Tariff History of the United States

One can exaggerate the degree of liberty in America before the 20th-century sprint of interventionism. (I have sinned myself.) One form of widespread government intervention in 19th-century America was protectionism –- the imposition of customs tariffs to limit imports. In his 1914 The Tariff History of the United States, F. W. Taussig follows the evolution of American protectionism from the early Republic, and especially the first really protectionist tariff act in 1808, up to 1913.
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US Government Is Already Broke

Published in the Financial Post (, January 25, 2013

In Tuesday’s Financial Times, well-known columnist Martin Wolf argues that “America’s fiscal policy is not in crisis.” “The federal government,” he writes,“is not on the verge of bankruptcy.” “This,” Wolf admits, “is a highly controversial statement.”

Indeed, many analysts believe that the U.S. federal government is bankrupt. They include, among others, economists Jeffrey Hummel of San Jose State University and Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University. As early as 2006, Kotlikoff wrote an article in the journal of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, asking the question “Is the United States Bankrupt,” to which he answered affirmatively. Continue reading

Beyond Madoff ’s Wildest Dreams

That’s how American politicians and bureaucrats are dreaming. In the current issue of Regulation, see my review of Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Scott Burns, The Clash of Generations (MIT Press, 2012).

My book on the same topic, The Public Debt Problem: A Comprehensive Guide (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) will be out in a few days.