Who Will Benefit from War?

Part 3 on Russia-Ukraine Crisis

A pre-2014 map of Ukraine showing Crimea as Ukrainian. Note all the Eastern European countries it borders. Lithuania must also be nervous because of border to Russia-friendly Belarus. Crimean population is 2/3 Russian and only 15 percent Ukrainian.
A pre-2014 map of Ukraine showing Crimea as Ukrainian. Note all the Eastern European countries it borders. Lithuania must also be nervous because of border to Russia-friendly Belarus. Crimean population is 2/3 Russian and only 15 percent Ukrainian.

The seriousness of the situation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine was dramatically increased on December 17, 2021, when the Russian Foreign Minister issued  “non-negotiable” treaty outlines separately to the United States and NATO. The major overall issue according to these virtual “ultimatums” issued by the Russians is that the continuing  expansion of NATO threatens Russian security. There are now 31 NATO member states, including many former parts of the Soviet Union. The latest NATO membership was North Macedonia in 2020. In addition, there are 24 NATO partner countries. This is more complicated. Ukraine is a NATO partner country, but so are Russia and one of its most trusted bordering allies, Belarus. There has been talk of making Ukraine a NATO member, but most NATO members are not eager for this.  Ukraine is the poorest and reputedly the most corrupt country in Europe, and Russian-Ukrainian tensions over the 75 percent Russian speaking Donbas region of southeastern Ukraine have resulted in 13,000 deaths since 2014. Russia also warned NATO partners Sweden and Finland not to assist NATO.

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Ultimatums to United States and NATO

Saint Vladimir the Great, Viking Prince of the Kievan Rus.
Saint Vladimir the Great, Viking Prince of the Kievan Rus.

On July 12, 2021, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin published a 6,900-word article in an online Russian government Presidential News Events release entitled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians.”

Russia now has over 120,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and on  December 17, the Russian Foreign Ministry gave the U.S. and NATO what are essentially “non-negotiable” ultimatums regarding Ukraine and the provocative anti-Russian NATO membership of 14 East European nations. Sweden and Finland were given stern warnings that joining or aiding NATO could have serious consequences. Talks were held with the U.S. in Geneva on January 10, 2022, and with a gathering of NATO, U.S. and Ukrainian officials in Brussels on January 12. At this point, nothing has been resolved, and Russian news releases are not comforting,

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Consequences of the Feckless Biden Administration

Russia President Vladimir Putin
Russia President Vladimir Putin

As I write on January 7, 2022, it is Christmas Day in Russia, which observes Christmas according to the calendar of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian Federation is a far different country from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) that fall apart in 1991. Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin has been either president or prime minister since 1999. He is not a communist. He has been an economic reformer and strongly favors private enterprise as the road to Russian prosperity and greatness. Russia and its people have prospered considerably under his rule. His leadership style, however, is autocratic by most Western standards. However, despite its great resources, Russia lags the U.S. and other major European and Asian powers in economic development and influence. Unlike the strongly anti-Christian Marxists that preceded the notably more tolerant and perhaps Christian leaning Mikhail Gorbachev, who dominated Soviet leadership from 1988 to 1991, Putin identifies as Russian Orthodox and has favored the growth of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has grown and continues to grow at an astonishingly rapid pace. According to a Pew Survey in 2017, 73 percent of Russian adults now identify as Christians. Many Russian musicians and performers seen on entertainment and social media wear Christian crosses. A similar Pew Survey of the U.S. in 2019 showed that Christian identity had dropped to 65 percent.

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The Menace of Sectionalist Politics and Protective Tariffs

Part 8 of 8 on the Morrill Tariff

To Live And Die In Dixie

Protectionist tariffs are a general menace to economic prosperity. Near the beginning of the Great Depression, one of the highest tariff bills in U.S. history, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, was passed on June 17, 1930, by Congress and signed by Republican President Herbert Hoover, who had strongly opposed the bill. Its purpose was to protect suffering American workers, farmers, and businesses from foreign competition. Up until then, exporters were faring well and remained one of the relative strengths in the economy. The House passed the bill 264 to 147, with 244 Republicans and 20 Democrats voting for it. The Senate passed it 44 to 42, with 39 Republicans and 5 Democrats voting for it. As could have been predicted by historical experience, exports soon suffered, dropping 61 percent with even Canada introducing a retaliatory tariff against U.S. goods. Unemployment was at 7.8 percent when Smoot-Hawley passed and jumped to 16.3 percent in 1931 and peaked at 25.1 percent in 1933.62

Mark Thornton and Robert B. Ekelund Jr. in their 2004 book on the economics of the Civil War, summarize some of their general economic conclusions: Protective tariffs benefit some commercial or regional interests in the short to intermediate term, but they do more harm than good to the overall economy. Obviously, some interests are injured. Tariffs are essentially a redistribution of wealth through political means. Protected economic interests often become non-innovative drags on the economy and taxpayers.63

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Protectionism versus Free Trade

Part 7 of 8 of a Series on the Morrill Tariff

Robert-Toombs
Robert-Toombs

Whig leaders in congress were again able to pass protectionist legislation in the Tariff of 1842, also known as the “Black Tariff.” This tariff primarily benefited the iron industry, nearly doubling the rates for both raw and manufactured iron goods. It also raised the percentage of dutiable items from about 50 percent to over 85 percent of all imported items.  By 1843, imports had dropped by half, thus actually reducing total tariff revenues. Exports dropped approximately 20 percent. This was replaced by the 1846 Walker Tariff that lowered tariff rates to pre-1842 levels after the Whigs lost the presidency and Congress in the 1844 elections.50

The 1857 “Free-Trade” Tariff was passed by a nonpartisan coalition dominated by conservative Southern Democrats and reduced tariff rates to almost free-trade levels. This was strongly opposed by Northern industry and Northern industrial workers. When a financial panic caused by loose banking practices resulted in a Northern recession in 1857, the Republicans blamed it on free trade and the 1857 Tariff Law. By 1858, the Republicans had submitted new tariff legislation, the Morrill Tariff, to the House Ways and Means Committee.51

Like many modern legislative attempts to conceal the purposes, costs, and political and economic benefits and injuries of a bad bill, the title of the Morrill Tariff commences with deceptive obfuscation:

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