Free Trade

When Government Is Stupid, Be Grateful for Its Inefficiency


According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, since 2001 U.S. Customs and Border Protection has failed to collect more than $600 million in duties that should have been imposed on imported goods "to remedy injurious unfair foreign trade practices." Specifically, the goods, mainly food products from China, were sold at "unfairly low prices," thereby violating "anti-dumping" rules. Due to CBP's dereliction of duty, American consumers presumably paid less than the government thinks they should for garlic, honey, mushrooms, and crawfish tail meat. This is the sort of bureaucratic inefficiency I can get behind.


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  1. I wish they could be that stupid with pot.

  2. I must confess something. In my large family, we often look for cost-effective food options. Recently, we were pleased with the taste and cost of some frozen tilapia we got from Wal-Mart. However, upon discovering that it came from China, we decided that creeped us out, and we stopped buying it. I just have visions of industrial waste flowing into the fish farm. Icky.

    For the record, other than salmon, most of the fish we eat comes from the Gulf. We’re fish elitists.

  3. Protectionists – keeping the poor from enjoying better standards of living since the 1700’s.

  4. Every time I see Government “Accountability” Office, my blood pressure spikes. It’s supposed to be the Government Accounting Office, goddammit! They are supposed to keep track of how much loot our elected idiots throw into the furnace.

    How much money did they piss away on that pointless name change, do you suppose?

  5. Of course, now that they’re aware of it, someone will try to “correct” it and save us from the heathen Chinee.

  6. Of course, I didn’t need anyone to protect me from Chinese fish. I just decided on my own and stuff.

  7. So that means a $600 million budget shortfall, which means a proposal to increase OTHER taxes to make up for it.

    I cannot get behind that kind of bureucratic inefficiency.

  8. Of course, I didn’t need anyone to protect me from Chinese fish. I just decided on my own and stuff.

    It takes a village, PL. They’re only here to help.

  9. I wonder what they would have to say about all that high alcohol content beer I’ve picked up at the Canadian duty free stores?

  10. I’d like to live in the Village, next door to Number 6. Could I have one of those cool bicycles?

  11. At least then, when I eat industrial waste-laden fish, it’ll be for the good of the State.

  12. I want my two dollars!

  13. Let me get this straight, Sullum…

    The U.S. government forgets to collect from Asian suppliers an amount equal to some 20% of our entire $3 trillion national budget…

    …so now we have to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars from (tada!) Asian suppliers because our marginal tax rate – already one of the lowest IN THE WORLD – doesn’t yeild enough revenue to pay for said budget…

    …so we can pay a little less for a handful of items from a country whose quality control is only now being identified and disgracefully low – and in some cases life-threateningly dangerous….

    …and that’s “the sort of bureaucratic inefficiency I can get behind.”

    No wonder no one votes for libertarians.

  14. madpad,

    I kept waiting for you to say, “Oh… $600 million… Sorry.”

    But you never did.

  15. I don’t get that, MikeP. You don’t make any sense.

  16. Pro Lib, Great Lakes fish for me. Some of those Gulf fish are dirty brown Mexican fish. I get an occasional Canuck whitefish or coho, but what can ya do?

  17. Between million and trillion is billion.





    is 600 parts in 3 million — not 20%.

  18. madpad,
    Someone who can’t count should refrain from commenting on accounting threads.

  19. You’re correct…my bad math…2% of our annual budget…still a hell of a lot of fucking money.

  20. Warren, I’ve noticed various inabilities amongst my fellow posters – from a lack of civility to lack of plain common sense.

    Hasn’t stopped them…or you. Why should it stop me?

  21. I want my two dollars!

  22. Pro Libertate,

    That tilapia was probably raised far from an industrial area. Out in the pristine, picturesque countryside and right under the chicken houses.That way they raise two protein crops while only buying feed for one.

  23. J sub D,

    I assume you mean the fish we think we’re buying versus the fish we’re actually getting.

    Taking the actual fish into account, well, walleye is okay, and northern pike is also decent. However, I’m afraid the Gulf is insanely superior: tuna, grouper, red snapper, tilefish, dolphin, snook, redfish, trout, flounder, pompano, permit, etc., not to mention shrimp, oysters, scallops, lobster, stone crab, and women in bikinis who belong in bikinis. Though I only recognize one of those (Mrs. Libertate) these days.

  24. SIV,

    I told my wife something similar: “I doubt they actually raise fish near industrial plants. But don’t ask what they’re feeding the fish. Probably nothing too bad–surplus mad cow beef from the U.K.”

  25. No wonder no one votes for libertarians.

    Hey, 20%, 0.02%, geez, stop quibbling. I don’t want to let a minor thousand-fold overstatement get in the way of an excuse for an early start on “Thirsty Thursdays” so I still think it warrants a drink.

  26. They build chicken houses over shrimp ponds in SE Asia. It is sort of efficient in both space and feed but they only export the shrimps!

  27. PL,
    SIV is actually, most likely, correct. Tilapia is usually raised as a secondary fish in a closed ecosystem. It does remarkably well in poor water conditions, a wide range of temperatures and with high population numbers.

    Quite often it is used to consume the, ahh, “byproducts” of other aqua-culture species like Hybrid Striped Bass, even here in the US and then sold as food for human consumption. Not denigrating the practice, just make sure your tilapia is fully cooked.

    IOW, the tilapia you buy, whether imported or domestic, was most likely raised in a closed system not exposed to environmental contaminants.

  28. When Government Is Stupid, Be Grateful for Its Inefficiency

    Normally I might agree but I got this client, a fiscal year corporation, and the Great State of Californicate keeps demanding that these guys file a tax return for 2004. So, for the FIFTH time (count ’em) I send them a copy of the tax return for the year ending 06-30-04 along with a copy of the canceled check for the balance due.

    Yesterday I get a letter from the idiots:

    After reviewing the information you provided we determined that you have a California filing requirement. You must file your tax year 2004 return by 05-16-08.

  29. Everytime the government forgets to tax an import, somewhere a union leader cries.

  30. Even within the US border we have a problem with tariffs, aka, state sales tax. Anyone who regularly purchases stuff from the internet knows that sometimes you pay sales tax and sometimes you don’t – always within the same state, but not always between states.

    State sales tax agencies focus on the big ticket items to enforce their protectionist measures – $500 bucks or more – cars, computers, tv’s, and the like. The inexpensive stuff is ignored, for now.

    The US could get its own ducks in a row first and stop this crazy practice within its own borders.

  31. Everytime the government forgets to tax an import, somewhere a union leader cries.

    Every time the government of a state fails to tax an interstate transaction, two tax accountant cry.

  32. I wonder what they would have to say about all that high alcohol content beer I’ve picked up at the Canadian duty free stores?

    What’s wrong with the beer we got? It drink pretty good, don’t it?

  33. we are the largest American producer of Tilapia and our operations are in Haina. We also provide product to Wal-Mart, That product is subject to rigorous inspection for chemicl residues. If there were a problem it could not be exported. The FDA “alert” last year for fish from China did not include Tilapia. The New York Times article went to the most polluted area of China to make its observations and not to the cleanest where we produce, Haina. It is like saying that the fish in New York harbour are the same as those in Alaska. China bashing is fun during recession since noone bashes back. If you want to eat well get the facts.

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