A Protectionist Christmas

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The Wash Post reminds us that with every holiday shopping binge comes a moronic, regressive tax policy:

In the case of low-end sneakers, tariffs range between 48 and 67 percent, but tariffs on higher-end sneakers are only 20 percent, and for leather dress shoes, the tariff is 8.5 percent. Plastic handbags are hit with 16 percent tariffs but reptile-skin ones with only 5.3 percent tariffs. For drinking glasses, the tariff is 28.5 percent if the value at the border is 30 cents or less, but 5 percent if the value is $5 or more.

Whole thing, worth reading, here. I celebrate the wonder of cheap Chinese imports here.

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  1. That was a great article.

  2. But if we don’t have high tarriffs they’ll take our jobs.

  3. “I celebrate the wonder of cheap Chinese imports here.”

    Why does Kerry Howley hate America?

  4. Why does Kerry Howley hate America?

    OT – No offense populist, but berhaps with New Year’s approaching it would be a good time for all H&R commenters to resolve to abstain from any further use of the “Why does [fill in the blank] hate America” and “Kerry would have been worse” jokes. 🙂

  5. Brian-

    Can we say that Kerry Howley would be better?

  6. Why does Brian hate America?

  7. Brian, you just encourage them! I gave up complaining, and eventually it tapered off.

  8. I swear off gratuitous uses of those phrases. I still think there are times when they are perfectly appropriate. But I now realize that they are best when used sparingly.

    I reserve the right to say that Kerry Howley would be better. Because, based on her writings, she would be.

  9. Why do people who hate people who make jokes about people who hate America hate America?

  10. Before the income tax, tariffs were an easy-to-collect major source of funding for the federal government; but now they are more protectionist in nature. I only want to hear “essential industry” arguments for them now.

  11. Why does Brian hate America?

    Guess I was asking for that, Ed…

    *Sigh* Apparently you’re right Eric – I should know better than to “misunderestimate” them like that 🙂

    Can we say that Kerry Howley would be better?

    Well, thoreau, as long as we’re referring only to that Kerry, I’ll make an exception. And no, it’s not just because she’s beautiful. Of course I would never be that shallow.

  12. “Can we say that Kerry Howley would be better?”

    Howley could Kerry be better? She’s perfect now!

  13. For those wanting to change the subject:
    I’m thinking a small percent of voters would be able to explain in 25 words or less the difference between regressive, progressive and flat, which is one reason we never will get meaningful, positive tax reform.

  14. I reserve the right to say that Kerry Howley would be better. Because, based on her writings, she would be.

    Yes, I’d agree with you thoreau. For the record, (and since I don’t want to sound like too much of a sexist pig) I thought so based on her writing long before I knew she was beautiful; I am not that shallow after all… No really, I’m not… I swear! :)~

  15. I’m thinking a small percent of voters would be able to explain in 25 words or less the difference between regressive, progressive and flat, which is one reason we never will get meaningful, positive tax reform.

    Ruthless, I’m not sure I could do it in 25 words, but even for those who could do it at all (and I agree it is a very small percentage) I doubt we’d get much agreement on the definitions.

    However, I do like the idea of a fundamental debate on tax issues rather than what passes for debate these days. One such a fundamental question might be: Regardless of the form of taxation (e.g. income, sales, etc.) what is the maximum amount of an individual’s wealth or income (or however you want to describe or measure it), that he should be compelled to turn over to his fellow citizens for collective use? Instead we’re always arguing whether someone’s tax burden is too little or too great, or if giving someone a tax cut unjustly benefits the rich, without ever getting around the heart of the issue – what is the right level of taxation? If we cannot answer that question how can we possibly know if someone’s taxes are too high or too low? There are many other fundamental questions but it would be nice to pin people down on some percentage that would be unjust to exceed in taking from one to give to others.

  16. Wintermute: the tariffs were also a contributing cause of the Civil War. Despite your belief, they were imposed in such a way as to protect industry (concentrated in the North) and provoked retaliation from foreign countries against agricultural products (which infuriated the South). The result was higher prices for manufactured goods and lower prices for agricultural products. The tariffs were a sore point between the Northern and Southern states long before slavery became an issue.

    Tariffs against textiles were enacted at the beginning of the nineteenth century to protect US mills. They were specifically designed to help an “infant industry, worthy of protection.” They have never been lifted, causing James Bovard to refer to textiles as “America’s oldest infant industry.”

    And I don’t hate America. I just miss it, is all.

  17. Ruthless:

    Understanding Taxation Terminology

    If it taxes me, it’s regressive.
    It it taxes others, it’s progressive.
    if it taxes us all, it’s flat.

    Hmm, not bad. 22 words including the title.

  18. A regressive tax
    hurts the poor. Be progressive!
    Stick it to the rich.

  19. The tariffs were a sore point between the Northern and Southern states long before slavery became an issue.

    …nor shall any duties or taxes on importations from foreign nations be laid to promote or foster any branch of industry…

    Constitution of the Confederate States, Article I, Section VIII, Paragraph 1

  20. NoStar: Good explanation, but could you squeeze it down into a haiku?

    (Or whatever you’re supposed to call a haiku that isn’t about the seasons.)

  21. Brian Courts,
    After seeing the excellent examples of putting it into 25 words or less, if not an haiku, you are surely realizing the Catch 22 of this entire discussion.
    I personally interviewed Arthur Laffer many years ago, by the way.

    Naturally, under anarchy, no taxes whatsoever would be needed.

  22. “…nor shall any duties or taxes on importations from foreign nations be laid to promote or foster any branch of industry…

    Constitution of the Confederate States, Article I, Section VIII, Paragraph 1”

    MikeP,
    Your point is taxes will always be burs under saddles.
    Get rid of them in the only way possible. Endorse anarchy.

  23. Stevo Darkly – A “haiku” without reference to the seasons is a senryu, I believe. There’s my valuable contribution for the day.

    What keeps amusing me, though, is how little politics actually changes. People always seem to think that something in politics is new when it’s actually very old. Nothing new about tariffs…it’s the idea that there shouldn’t be tariffs that’s modern.

    Oh, and Ruthless – I’ve always heard that there were some improved points in the CSA constitution, and now I see one. I’ll have to go look it up.

  24. Oops, somehow I missed that MikeP already made it into a haiku. Or a senryu.

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