Saturday, March 10, 2018

Wilbur is Some Pig

Andy Warhol, 1962, Museum of Modern Art,  New York.

Haunted by NPR's interview with commerce secretary Wilbur Ross the other day, and a particular detail of the conversation
RACHEL MARTIN: All right. Well, we spoke to Glenn Hubbard yesterday on the program. He chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. He helped craft steel tariffs against China back in 2002. And he says they did not work. Let's listen to this.
GLENN HUBBARD: While you do gain jobs and incomes in protected industries, you lose more in others. You know, it's not just makers of steel and aluminum. Steel and aluminum are inputs into cars, into cans, into metal that we use. And consumers are worse off, and people don't see that.
MARTIN: As you know, prices are going to go up for these products that contain steel. So the American consumer will lose in the end.
WILBUR ROSS: That's not the case at all. Let me give you, again, the actual numbers, not theoretical hypotheses. On a can of soup, on a can of beer, on a can of soda, the total impact of the increase in metal costs will be less than one-half of one cent. A fraction of one cent is not going to change life.
No love for Hubbard, who kind of blew that with the focus on consumer prices instead of job loss, but he's an exemplar of scientific probity next to Ross.

In particular, I can't get over the unhesitating prevarication when Ross equates Hubbard's experience of being centrally involved in an imposition of steel tariffs which failed with "theoretical hypotheses", and his own prop of a soup can purchased for him by some underling (he pretended he'd bought it himself, an 80-year-old near-billionaire in a bodega someplace) with "the actual numbers" even though the Trump program hasn't been implemented (or even drawn up) yet so that there certainly are no actual numbers! What a committed fraud.

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