Category Archives: Correspondence

The State of American Manufacturing

Here’s a letter I recently sent to the New York Times:

Gregory Cowles’ June 29 “Inside the List” item on Dave Eggers’ new book contains a factual mistake. Mr. Eggers claims that American manufacturing is in decline; it isn’t. Output is actually near a record high.*

And that record wasn’t set in the 1950s or the 1970s. It was set in 2008. As the economy continues to slowly recover, America’s manufacturers will soon break their own record for sheer output. In other words, U.S. manufacturing is quite healthy.

It is also good news that it takes far fewer workers to produce this deluge of goods than it used to. Freed by machines from having to toil on a factory floor, today’s children can grow up to instead be almost anything they want. The state of American manufacturing today should warm the hearts of young parents everywhere –as well as Mr. Eggers.

Ryan Young
Fellow in Regulatory Studies
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Washington, D.C.

*Data available from the St. Louis Federal Reserve’s FRED database, http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/IPMAN?cid=3

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Regulation, Jobs, and Creating Wealth

Here’s a letter I recently sent to Businessweek:

Editor, Businessweek:

Elizabeth Dwoskin and Mark Drajem’s February 9 article “Regulations Create Jobs, Too” points out that regulation doesn’t so much create jobs as redirect them somewhere else.

Lobbying, politicking, and special favors are part and parcel of the regulatory process. The result is that many regulation-created jobs are not created on the merits. If a job requires a regulation to be created, that usually means the job it replaced created more value for consumers. Regulations may not destroy jobs on net, but they do destroy wealth.

Markets respect no special interest; agencies like the EPA and SEC exist solely to cater to them. This is wonderful for politically connected companies like Breen Energy Solutions and Nol-Tec Systems, but the rest of us are poorer for it.

Ryan Young
Fellow in Regulatory Studies
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Washington, D.C.

Free-Market Fundamentalism

This letter of mine in response to Andy Stern’s recent op-ed ran in today’s Wall Street Journal:

If America is indeed a free-market fundamentalist nation, it sure has a funny way of showing it. Federal, state and local governments combine to spend roughly 40% of GDP, and that doesn’t count the cost of compliance with federal regulations.

In his eagerness to attack free markets, Mr. Stern has confused the mixed economy’s crony capitalism with the real thing.

Ryan Young
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Washington

What Free Market?

Here’s a letter to The Wall Street Journal:

Editor, The Wall Street Journal:

Andy Stern’s December 1 op-ed, “China’s Superior Economic Model,” blames America’s free-market fundamentalism for its economic troubles.

If America is indeed a free-market fundamentalist nation, it sure has a funny way of showing it. Federal, state, and local governments combine to spend roughly 40 percent of GDP. Washington indirectly spends another 12 percent of GDP by forcing businesses and consumers to comply with $1.75 trillion worth of federal regulations.

In his eagerness to attack free markets, Mr. Stern has confused the mixed economy’s crony capitalism for the real thing.

Ryan Young
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Washington, D.C.

Missing the Bigger Story

Here’s a letter I recently sent to the Washington Post:

Editor, Washington Post:

Anita Kumar’s November 29 Virginia Politics blog post “McDonnell recommends eliminating agencies, boards, commissions” incompletely details Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s “ongoing effort to reshape and shrink state government.” By deregulating three professions, eliminating two state agencies, and merging 19 others, $2 million could be trimmed from the commonwealth’s budget if the legislature approves the proposal.

She does not mention that Virginia’s budget is set to increase by $1.1 billion in 2012. This new spending outweighs the proposed cuts by a factor of 550. Gov. McDonnell may be modestly reshaping government, but he certainly isn’t shrinking it.

Ryan Young, Washington
The writer is a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Let Me Be Clear

Here’s a letter I sent to Politico:

Editor, Politico:

Jonathan Allen’s November 28 article, “Mandatory budget cuts after supercommittee failure will trigger pain for some,” is misleading. A cut is when spending goes down. Federal spending will go up every year for at least the next ten years, even with the supercommittee’s failure to reach a bipartisan agreement.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, defense spending is projected to increase by 18 percent between 2013 and 2021. Discretionary spending is set to increase by 12 percent over the same period. These increases are lower than previous projections. But they are still increases. And an increase is not a cut. Not even in Washington.

Ryan Young

See also the chart below that the Mercatus Center’s Veronique De Rugy put together using CBO data. I can’t put it more plainly: there are no supercommittee-related budget cuts. Stop saying that there are.

Did Spending Cuts Cause the UK Riots?

Here’s a letter I recently sent to The New York Times:

TO THE EDITOR:

 Richard Sennett and Saskia Sassen worry in their August 11 op-ed that government spending cuts may be causing the UK riots. They also hint at what that could imply for the U.S.

A problem with their argument is that government spending in the UK has gone up sharply over the last decade. Government spending there is currently about 45 percent of GDP. In 2000, it was only 34 percent. There were no riots then.

A similar story has played out in America. When President Clinton left office, federal spending was 18 percent of GDP. Now it is 24 percent.

If spending cuts cause riots, then we should have nothing to worry about. The fact that we do means something else must be behind the looting.

RYAN YOUNG
Washington, D.C. Aug. 11, 2011
The writer is a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.