Free trade

A Vote for Trump Is a Vote Against American Consumers

Donald Trump's trade war on America.

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As I was listening to Donald Trump's performance art/news conference the other night, I wondered whether it was even worth writing another column about the assorted lies and myths he peddles on trade. I don't think so.

Trump promises to bring Third World jobs back to an advanced economy, and millions of voters—left and right—find this emotionally satisfying and politically reasonable. Many of these people just want to find work, so it's understandable. And when the economy is stagnant, you're not going to allay working-class anxiety by pointing out that capital account surpluses matter more than trade deficits or that productivity, not foreigners, is realigning the workforce—even if it's all true.

People just don't care.

I do wonder, though, why there hasn't been more political emphasis on Trump's promise to make the products average Americans buy every day more expensive. That might matter to voters who are on the fence or haven't been paying close attention.

Do you like those affordable electronic goods—you know, those giant TVs, high-tech laptops and super pocket computers you're walking around with? The prices of tech products and services have fallen over the past decade because of many policies Trump rails against. So though a lot of Americans might like the sound of forcing Apple to assemble phones right here in the United States, how would they feel about paying $100 more (or whatever it would be) every time they renew a cellphone plan?

All you people with Samsung phones (Samsung is the nation's top seller, with 22.5 percent of U.S. market share) could look forward to similar costs embedded into your plans—unless, for some reason, South Korea would be granted immunity from Trump's protectionism.

Trump might be used to gold-plated phones on his private Boeing 757, but average Americans can't afford to pay double their cellphone bill.

These price hikes extend to food and transportation—and anything else you can think of.

Take Wal-Mart, for instance, which is not only America's largest employer but also one that sells affordable goods to vast numbers of working-class people. And the majority of the merchandise Wal-Mart sells, despite its recent nationalistic sales pitch, is manufactured (in part or fully) abroad. If Trump is going to start trade wars and raise tariffs (American consumers, not the Mexican or Chinese government or its oligarchs, will pay for every cent), he should explain how his supercalifragilistic deals will both punish these countries and make goods cheaper for American consumers.

Elect Trump if you want Wal-Mart to double the price of your grocery bill.

Or take a look at any list of the most sought-after affordable cars in the United States. You will notice that it is dominated by Japanese (and other foreign) manufacturers. Have you also noticed that Trump's grievances are always aimed at Mexico, China—guilty of the greatest theft in the history of the world, according to Trump—and Japan but not Germany or Sweden?

The other day, Trump said this about Japan, a country that he's really started focusing on lately:
"When Japan thinks you mean it that we're not going to let them sell the cars like that because they're killing us—you know what we sell to Japan? Practically nothing. They have cars coming in by the millions, and we sell practically nothing."

Not going to let them sell cars?

Has Trump told American workers who build Japanese-brand cars—nearly 4 million cars in the United States in 2015—in Ohio, Indiana, Alabama, Georgia and 10 other states? In February 2016, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler accounted for about 47 percent of automakers' U.S. market share. Japanese companies such as Toyota, Honda and Nissan made up about 33 percent. And unlike Trump-branded merchandise, a big percentage of those cars are manufactured here in the U.S.

I'm sure laying heavy tariffs on Japan—or whatever "evening the playing field" is supposed to mean—would not only kill jobs in Ohio but almost certainly make the price of affordable foreign cars rise. On the bright side, Trumpism would create more government-guaranteed union jobs, which also would be bound to make those cars more expensive. Maybe this is what people want.

The backlash against globalization is ongoing, but in the end, it's foot-stomping. Thankfully, nothing can really be done to stop it unless there is a sea change in politics. Do I believe that attacks on the consumer side of protectionism would make a big difference in the election? No. This isn't a movement dictated by reason. But rather than argue abstract truths (and I've been guilty of this), maybe it's time to concentrate on the pain American consumers would feel if Trump got his way.

COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

A Vote for Trump Is a Vote Against American Consumers

        As I was listening to Donald Trump's performance art/news conference the other night, I wondered whether it was even worth writing another column about the assorted lies and myths he peddles on trade. I don't think so.
        Trump promises to bring Third World jobs back to an advanced economy, and millions of voters—left and right—find this emotionally satisfying and politically reasonable. Many of these people just want to find work, so it's understandable. And when the economy is stagnant, you're not going to allay working-class anxiety by pointing out that capital account surpluses matter more than trade deficits or that productivity, not foreigners, is realigning the workforce—even if it's all true.
        People just don't care.
        I do wonder, though, why there hasn't been more political emphasis on Trump's promise to make the products average Americans buy every day more expensive. That might matter to voters who are on the fence or haven't been paying close attention.
        Do you like those affordable electronic goods—you know, those giant TVs, high-tech laptops and super pocket computers you're walking around with? The prices of tech products and services have fallen over the past decade because of many policies Trump rails against. So though a lot of Americans might like the sound of forcing Apple to assemble phones right here in the United States, how would they feel about paying $100 more (or whatever it would be) every time they renew a cellphone plan?
        All you people with Samsung phones (Samsung is the nation's top seller, with 22.5 percent of U.S. market share) could look forward to similar costs embedded into your plans—unless, for some reason, South Korea would be granted immunity from Trump's protectionism.
        Trump might be used to gold-plated phones on his private Boeing 757, but average Americans can't afford to pay double their cellphone bill.
        These price hikes extend to food and transportation—and anything else you can think of.
        Take Wal-Mart, for instance, which is not only America's largest employer but also one that sells affordable goods to vast numbers of working-class people. And the majority of the merchandise Wal-Mart sells, despite its recent nationalistic sales pitch, is manufactured (in part or fully) abroad. If Trump is going to start trade wars and raise tariffs (American consumers, not the Mexican or Chinese government or its oligarchs, will pay for every cent), he should explain how his supercalifragilistic deals will both punish these countries and make goods cheaper for American consumers.
        Elect Trump if you want Wal-Mart to double the price of your grocery bill.
        Or take a look at any list of the most sought-after affordable cars in the United States. You will notice that it is dominated by Japanese (and other foreign) manufacturers. Have you also noticed that Trump's grievances are always aimed at Mexico, China—guilty of the greatest theft in the history of the world, according to Trump—and Japan but not Germany or Sweden?
        The other day, Trump said this about Japan, a country that he's really started focusing on lately:
        "When Japan thinks you mean it that we're not going to let them sell the cars like that because they're killing us—you know what we sell to Japan? Practically nothing. They have cars coming in by the millions, and we sell practically nothing."
        Not going to let them sell cars?
        Has Trump told American workers who build Japanese-brand cars—nearly 4 million cars in the United States in 2015—in Ohio, Indiana, Alabama, Georgia and 10 other states? In February 2016, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler accounted for about 47 percent of automakers' U.S. market share. Japanese companies such as Toyota, Honda and Nissan made up about 33 percent. And unlike Trump-branded merchandise, a big percentage of those cars are manufactured here in the U.S.
        I'm sure laying heavy tariffs on Japan—or whatever "evening the playing field" is supposed to mean—would not only kill jobs in Ohio but almost certainly make the price of affordable foreign cars rise. On the bright side, Trumpism would create more government-guaranteed union jobs, which also would be bound to make those cars more expensive. Maybe this is what people want.
        The backlash against globalization is ongoing, but in the end, it's foot-stomping. Thankfully, nothing can really be done to stop it unless there is a sea change in politics. Do I believe that attacks on the consumer side of protectionism would make a big difference in the election? No. This isn't a movement dictated by reason. But rather than argue abstract truths (and I've been guilty of this), maybe it's time to concentrate on the pain American consumers would feel if Trump got his way.
        David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and the author of "The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy." Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi. To find out more about David Harsanyi and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

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70 responses to “A Vote for Trump Is a Vote Against American Consumers

  1. It’s been a while since Lou Reed churned over an album.

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  2. Anyone else get a double post? Are the squirrels attacking them now?

    1. I see two copies of the article, if that’s what you mean.

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  3. Meanwhile Sanders said he would end NAFTA, CAFTA, MFN for China and would stop TPP.

    IOW, the only things Sanders wants to import are guaranteed Dem voters. And he wants them to pay at least double for everything (along with the rest of us) that will again be made by shitty American union labor.

    1. Ending trade agreements with Canada is retarded. In fact, there shouldn’t be any period. There should be just that FREE TRADE.

      I can’t stand protectionists on both sides of the border. The two economies are so intertwined talking in protectionist tongue is akin to trying to cut around crucial nerves and tissue in the body.

      Idiots. And they should be chastised at every turn for talking that way.

      1. The global economy is so entertwined that any trade protectionism is idiotic and antithecal to human development.

        Odd that they only point out Trump when Bernie’s position is like Trump’s on retard-steroids.

        1. Antithetical.

          I wish I could blame that on autocorrect. But I can’t.

          1. But you can blame it on this cheap-ass comment system, that doesn’t have an edit button.

      2. Well, the fix is simple –

        Step 1 – Dissolve the Canadian government as it stands. Replace with a caretaker organization who recognizes expansion of government as a crime against humanity.

        Step 2 – Let the economy north of the border right itself.

        Step 3 – Profit.

      3. Also, my idea of free trade includes a crcumstance where it would cost me no more to gift a copy of one of my books to my cover artist than it does to do so to my mother. My cover artist is Canadian, my mother is not. It cost me three times as much to get a copy of the book into Canukistan than it did to get one to New York. The worst part of it is, because I’m south of the border, I couldn’t order north of the border for delivery north of the border. I had to order south of the border and have it shipped internationally. If there were free trade, those transactions should be identical.

        1. You lost me. Can’t you ship something Fedex to America Junior for about the same money as you can in America Proper? I used to ship packages from California to Vancouver for the same money as it cost to ship them to Nebraska.

          1. That’s funny, I always get charged international to cross that line.

            On top of that, In order to change carriers I had to have it shipped to me first, which would have also slowed the process down further.

            I blame Amazon. If they’d let me order from Amazon.ca and have it ship from canada to canada, this wouldn’t have been an issue.

            1. I think (but I may be wrong) if you order it from Amazon.com, billed to your address in the states and have it sent as a gift to an overseas address,you don’t pay more. But if you order it on amazon.ca, you pay their price for it which may be more.

              I seem to remember doing that once and the price remained the same. They even delivered it for free on my prime account. Try that.

              1. I did.

                They charged me $17 for international shipping, hense my bitching.

                I’ve been a prime member for years.

              2. I’ve come to learn some tricks and one is sending stuff to Plattsburgh. 90 minute drive and while I’m at it i go pick up some food items we don’t have here my daughter loves.

                1. I’m more than 90 minutes from the Canadian border (I’m not sure 90 minutes would get me to lake Champlain), and I wasn’t going to ask the guy to drive to Washington state (closest US territory to him) to pick up a gift copy.

              3. This is a perfect example. I once tried ordering a telescope from Amazon to ship to my sister in Canada. This proved to be impossible without paying a hefty duty, or buying it (at a higher price) from the Canadian retailer.

                What the FUCK?? I thought we had a free trade agreement. I should be able to buy an object worth a measly $87 and ship it to Canada without paying $17 in import duties. it’s fucking retarded.

                Why? I guess because those poor telescope manufacturers in Canada need jobs.

            2. Depends the item.

              I order books from Amazon.com and never get charged. But I ordered a Hamilton watch from Ashford and was dinged for duties.

              And boy was it fun bringing in that Suburban we bought in Texas

              All arbitrary and paper work bull shit.

              1. Seriously, Let me know the next time you need to get a titled item permanently across the border. I’ll take care of it in about five minutes.

      4. Imagine if we had trade barriers between US states.
        Come to think of it the “buy local” people would love that. Let’s divide agriculture up into little feifdoms so everyone has to buy their tomatos from a local greenhouse. Wonder what that will do to food prices.
        BUT THINK OF THE POOR WORKERS! YOU MUST PAY MORE FOR SHIT SO THAT WORKERS CAN KEEP THEIR JOBS!

    2. “Meanwhile Sanders said he would end NAFTA, CAFTA, MFN for China and would stop TPP.”

      Sanders (and Trump and Hillary) seem to have forgotten that the President is not actually an emperor.

      Those changes have to be enacted by Congress. The President cannot unilaterally proclaim that NAFTA, etc. are over.

      1. Those changes have to be enacted by Congress. The President cannot unilaterally proclaim that NAFTA, etc. are over.

        Say’s who? The executive can use his executive power to do many executive things.
        I doubt Trump would have a problem ordering the IRS to torture people or whatever.

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  4. How long before Harsanyi’s first piece on why he’s voting for Trump over Clinton, because….er….Team Red loves freedom more.

  5. I’m too late to point it out, but this entire article could be rerun after a simple find/replace with “Sanders” in lieu of “Trump.”

    What does it say about the public when the two figures who have ignited the most passion are equally idiotic when it comes to trade? And that the remaining big-party alternative is an unrepentant felon who is the most likely in the entire field to start a major war (or several)?

    1. “What does it say about the public when the two figures who have ignited the most passion are equally idiotic when it comes to trade?”
      It says that we have become a nation that is all about feelz.
      The current rallying cry is for jobz, and the public education system, while focusing on feelz, doesn’t bother to educate about how an economy works. How could they, while instilling in the chillens mush-filled minds that government can provide everything?
      So, government creates jobz and the trade deals government makes cost jobz. Therefore government doing something different on trade deals will help them create jobz, Amirite?
      “Idiocracy” is closer than we think.

  6. Uh, I thought part of the reason Japanese manufacturers build some models of cars in the US is to get around existing tariffs in the first place?

  7. I’m really hoping that Ford will re-launch the Pinto. And lets not forget American Motors Corporation’s Gremlin and Pacer. I would gladly pay twice what I did for my Hyundai to drive a fine piece of American engineering genius.

  8. Before any morons jump in and start criticizing the free trade agreements…

    The economics on this is PERFECTLY CLEAR. It doesn’t matter if other countries get a better deal, or get to keep certain trade advantages. In fact, if America unilaterally dropped ALL trade barriers and let every country sell to the US market freely with NO obligation to drop any of their own barriers, that would STILL be a net benefit to the US market.

    If you don’t get that, then you’ve never understood comparative advantage, and you should go back and read your Ricardo.

    Protecting industries that make products less efficiently than foreign competitors is a net loss *for yourself* because your consumers are forced to get those products from a less efficient source. There is no need for tit-for-tat trade policy at all, except for political expediency.

    1. say a country says all imports have a 200% tariff and to do any business in our country you must form a joint venture with a native company so you surrender all your IP. How exactly does that help us?

    2. Yeah, people just don’t understand the concept that buying a product is in itself a profit for the buyer in terms of value. That’s why we buy things; we see it’s a good deal. Just buying things from cheap foreign production is making our lives better. People think that we are “losing” money by voluntarily buying things from another nation. It’s the main premise behind socialism but on a global scale.

      To put it another way; if you were an alien observing our economies from space, and we mass produce paper currency, and another country makes goods, and we exchange these, who looks like they’re getting a raw deal?

      But people think that they (the foreign nation) has it better because they believe that that money is gone from the US forever. Which is untrue, but even if it were it wouldn’t hurt us in any way. Any of our currency taken out would increase the value of the remaining currency (deflation) by that exact amount. If half of our currency were suddenly removed, the other half would be worth double, secondary economic considerations notwithstanding.

  9. you know what we sell to Japan? Practically nothing.

    Does Gruppenfuhrer Trump plans on personally delivering the pink slips to Boeing workers because last time I checked JAL and All Nippon flew about 250 planes manufactured in the United States.

  10. Does any writer on the Reason staff ever bother tolisten towhat Trump actually says?
    Trump has never done anythingbut support free trade. But he means free trade, not manipulated
    trade, a point Reason folks completely miss and misrepresent. Sorry, Reason, I’m not going to be suckered into reading another braindead anti-Trump rant.

    1. Yes, he supports free trade but his solutions, for the problem of other countries manipulating it, is to “do unto others, as they are doing unto us” and that means higher prices at the retail level.
      And what Trump fails to mention is that these other countries, because they have control over their populations in excess of what we have, will wait us out until our consumers start to scream at the higher prices and we relent.
      He offers simple sounding solutions to complex problems and some of us see them as unrealistic and want to call him out on them.

      1. so your solution is to allow others countries to take our jobs, because we are nice? Fuck that. fair trade is exactly that. If you put up barriers to our companies, we will put up the same barriers to your companies. Short term, prices would rise for certain items, but as production returns to America or other countries which do not have unfair measures, prices will decrease. At the end of the day, free trade should be exactly that….free. Allowing other countries to play unfairly is not in our best interest.

        1. ” but as production returns to America or other countries ”

          This will literally never happen. That’s what you need to understand. If there were no barriers then our products will still be made more cheaply in South East Asia. If there were the exact same barriers, our products will still be made in South East Asia. The only thing that will change that is when those nations become developed enough that their workers want waged comparative to ours, then our products will be made in Sub Sahara Africa.

          Stop believing that with the right regulations or TOP MAN that companies will suddenly decide to make things here with our over priced labor.

  11. The Treasonous Trans-Pacific Partnership
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ce6Z6lNbvDY

  12. “Trump promises to bring Third World jobs back to an advanced economy”

    Since when are manufacturing jobs “Third World” jobs? The author makes it sound like Trump is bringing back basket weaving.

    What’s going on now– massive trade deficits– shows that most of what we are facing is not any kind of real trade at all, but just one-way cash sales. Trade deficits are, by definition, a measure of the extent to which actual trade (goods for goods, the classical definition of trade) is not taking place.

  13. This article is a non sequitur. What Trump is campaigning on is not for the American consumer but for the American producer. What NAFTA did was ship working class jobs overseas and open the borders for low-skilled labor to flood the U.S. and lower wages for construction workers and others. But NAFTA also protected jobs for the Knowledge Class in computers and software engineering. How about outsourcing all those jobs to India? Harsanyi and Reason aren’t concerned about the working class because both are Knowledge Class based. Trump has brought the working class to the ballot box and has given them a voice. What’s wrong with that?

  14. Congress, not the President, has the power to tax, spend, borrow and regulate. A President Trump could not do, nor undo, any of those things without Congress’ consent.

    I have no intention of voting for Trump – his eminent domain seizures fill me with revulsion. But Cruz, Rubio, or Hillary will mean (nuclear) war with Russia. I can survive Trump – maybe even Sanders – but I have no idea what nuclear war would do to me or anyone else. I wouldn’t want to be in Washington, DC with Hillary, Rubio or Cruz as President – I’ll probably move to Oregon although even that may not be enough. And even if nuclear war doesn’t happen, I think it’s important to rid the country of neocons. So I shall do nothing to stop Trump if it means voting for any of the others.

  15. There is no such thing as a consumer. Well, except as a dependent of either a producer or one living off the government dole. A consumer is a producer from 9-5 so to speak. If trade advantages the consumer then it disadvantages a producer and is not free trade. Even the textbook definition says free trade benefits both parties. But when managed trade agreements that only have FreeTrade in their title are marketed as advantageous to consumers that agreement is not free trade and is not advantageous to the consumer because it kills his/her ability to consume.

  16. Although I don’t agree with everything that Trump says, I have to tell you that you did not make a good argument. The iPhone 6s plus is $750, according to your article, it would be $850. All major cell phone carriers have gone to a leasing platform. $0 down and $25 a month for the phone. What you are saying is that making them in the U.S.A it would be $28.33 a month. $3.33 a month extra for an iPhone. Now there are several hundred more people employed by Apple in the States, which means fewer people on welfare. With good jobs in the States, there will be less crime. Example: If there are a lot of broke people sitting around doing nothing, some of them decide to commit crimes. If they are at work, they have money, and less time to commit crimes. Detroit lost the auto industry, and crime sky rocketed. Bernie Sanders takes a similar stance, and it should only be the start. We need high level jobs, and to create advanced degree job opportunities. Buy all the Chinese crap that you want, but start learning to speak Mandarin.

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