Tariffs

Trump Doubles Down on Ineffective Tariffs, Further Harming U.S. Farmers and Consumers

As messy as things are, they could get uglier still.

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Last week, President Donald Trump announced he would impose new tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of goods produced in China. Many of those tariffed goods—just like the U.S. goods China has imposed retaliatory tariffs on—are farm products. Consequently, this latest round of tariffs is expected to add to the already higher prices Americans are paying for a variety of foods.

U.S. agricultural exports to China totaled $20 billion in 2017. Those exports come in about as broad a range as you could imagine. China's retaliatory tariffs have hit U.S. farmers hard.

"Soybean farmers, pork producers and a growing number of other agricultural interests across a range of states—including cherry producers, corn growers, and lobstermen—have complained that they are collateral damage caught in the middle of the escalating trade battle," the Washington Post reported this week.

The CEO of Del Monte, makers of popular canned produce, said this week that the company was forced to raise prices on U.S. consumers by 10 percent due to Trump's tariffs.

"Since China imposed tariffs last fall, [Indiana soybean and corn farmer Brent] Bible has nowhere to sell his soybean and corn crops," NPR reported this week. "And that situation just got worse, because the futures trading market started planning for higher tariffs earlier this week." Bible told NPR the tariffs had cost him $50,000 over just the past three days.

Earlier this week, Reason's Eric Boehm suggested that the most likely winner of the ongoing trade skirmishes between Trump and China would probably be bacteria, roaches, and rats, the appetites of which will be tested by all the food grown by American farmers that tariffs would cause to rot in warehouses rather than be sold.

Trump, who gave billions to subsidize U.S. farmers (and, um, Brazilian criminals) who were impacted by his earlier tariffs, has already proposed billions of new bailout dollars to help them deal with the inevitable fallout from his latest tariffs.

Does that make any sense?

It does to Trump, who loves tariffs. Last year he famously dubbed himself Tariff Man. In his 2011 New York Times bestseller, Time to Get Tough: Make America Great Again!, Trump writes that "a true commander in chief would sit down with the Chinese and demand a real deal, a far better deal. Either China plays by the rules or we slap tariffs on Chinese goods. End of story."

But it's not the end of the story.

Back in March, Trump hailed the "substantial progress" he says he'd made on trade with China. Those days are over.

"[A]fter weeks of optimistic statements by Trump and members of his administration about how trade talks were progressing, Trump abruptly escalated tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods last week and opened the door to even more," CNN reported this week. The network also noted that U.S. farmers are pissed over the move. That includes farmers such as this guy, who says he voted for Trump.

Trump's attempts to calm farmers came in the form of a typical Word Salad that was anything but soothing.

"Our great Patriot Farmers will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of what is happening now," Trump tweeted earlier this week. He also let those "great Patriot Farmers" know that his administration "will be making up the difference"—the income shortfall Trump's tariffs have wrought on those same great Patriot Farmers—out of "the massive Tariffs being paid to the United States for allowing China, and others, to do business with us."

Well, um, er, not exactly.

"White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday acknowledged that the Chinese do not directly pay tariffs on goods coming into the U.S.," CNBC reported this week, "contradicting President Donald Trump's claims that China will pay for tariffs imposed by the U.S."

Kudlow also admitted something Trump, to my knowledge, has not: the very real harm that American tariffs inflict on American consumers.

Walmart, the country's largest grocer, says the latest round of tariffs will force the retailer to hike prices for consumers in the United States.

"China is not paying the cost of tariffs," Washington Post columnist Mark Thiessen, who supports the tariffs, wrote this week. "American businesses and consumers are paying."

"Trump is taxing consumers to bolster farmers, a core part of his political base," wrote Washington Post columnist Philip Bump this week.

Those taxes add up. One recent scholarly assessment of the impact of Trump's tariffs says they'll add roughly $500 to $800 in new costs to every American household, and will cost the U.S. economy tens of billions of dollars over the next year.

As messy as things are, they could get uglier still. An editor at a Chinese state-owned media company suggested "that China might cease purchases of U.S. agricultural products" altogether.

There are a lot of moving parts here—tariffs, bailouts, reprisals, tough messaging, pleas, calls for restraint, threats, and promises—seemingly with new ones added each day. I'm not an economist. Even if I were, though, I'd have a hard time comprehending what every move meant to the bottom line of U.S.-China trade.

Nevertheless, the whole is clear. Tariffs are bad for American and Chinese consumers, farmers, and food producers. In short, tariffs make things worse, not better. 

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61 responses to “Trump Doubles Down on Ineffective Tariffs, Further Harming U.S. Farmers and Consumers

  1. “…the most likely winner of the ongoing trade skirmishes between Trump and China would probably be bacteria, roaches, and rats…”

    Implement some tariffs or some other sort of TAXES on those little boogers!!! Make them PAY, dammit!!! Why should THEY get off Scott-free while the rest of us suffer!?!?

  2. What bothers me the most is not the pig-ignorance of the most basic economics, nor the eagerness to disrupt my business and to think it’s any of his business to control who and how I trade with. It’s seeing all the damage ($200B in new taxes! Business plans disrupted! Stocks down!), and to come up with hare-brained schemes like paying farmers for the immediate damage they’ve suffered without thinking for even a second that it doesn’t solve their long term problems.

    The disconnect is astonishing. The trumpistas here, cheering him on and pretending it’s all for the greater good, is more of that same pig-ignorance, and from people who claim to at least have libtertarian thoughts in some areas once in a while.

    You read about people in history doubling down on their stupidity in the face of mounting evidence — LBJ and McNamara with Vietnam, Nixon with Watergate, Stalin, Hitler, Mao. Trump’s trade policies sure aren’t in the same degree, but they have the same unmistakeable stench.

    What the fuck is wrong with these idiots that they are so blind to the damage they’ve already inflicted and keep on keeping on?

    1. “…they have the same unmistakeable stench.”

      Wooo-Hooo, SPEAK that truth to us!!!

    2. It’s seeing all the damage

      What damage?

      $200B in new taxes!

      Not even close enough to paying for the current deficit and debt. Taxes will have to be raised a lot more than that, or spending will have to be cut. Continuing the status quo is not an option. Low taxes and high spending are a violation of the NAP and are not a libertarian policy.

      Stocks down!

      The damage is that stocks have gone up so far due to massive injections of money into the economy. The stock market is at 2-3x where it should be and the sooner the correction comes the better.

      Business plans disrupted!

      You mean business plans based on massive government overspending and debt are disrupted? Good! Markets will be able to adapt faster than governments.

      I hear you that it would be nice if the current economic mirage could be carried on a little longer. Actually, I hope it will be until after the 2020 election. But that political hope doesn’t amount to a principled objection to the need for higher taxes, lower spending, and a massive correction.

      1. Businesses like to plan ahead. Those plans get disrupted all the time by natural disasters, consumer quirks, innovation, and competitors. Why throw unpredictable arbitrary tariffs into the mix?

  3. As for the cost per household, that’s easy to figure, and $500 to $800 is way too low. $200B in new tariffs, divided by, what, 100M households — $2000 each. 150M households? $1333. It’s simple math, no need to consult experts, who have evidently failed basic arithmetic. All they will tell you is knock-on effects, like the price of domestic counterparts rising too (washers) and even unrelated products (dryers), fewer choices (because less money is available for other purchases) and less output (because other business make fewer sales to people who have less money for other purchases). Add those to your $2000 or $1333.

    1. As for the cost per household, that’s easy to figure, and $500 to $800 is way too low. $200B in new tariffs, divided by, what, 100M households — $2000 each.

      That’s peanuts compared to the cost per household of the debt and deficit, and the tariffs (being taxes) actually reduce the deficit at any given spending level.

      because other business make fewer sales to people who have less money for other purchases

      Good! The US consumer spending spree is not a free market outcome, it’s the result of US government policies. If tariffs bring US consumer behavior closer to the free market outcome, that’s an additional benefit.

      Sadly, the effect of Trump’s tariffs is nowhere near going to be that dramatic. We likely need to raise both income tax and sales tax to European levels and decrease consumer spending to European levels in order to balance our budget, given that we effectively have a European-style social welfare state already.

      Look, as a libertarian, I would like to see government spending close to zero and taxation close to zero. But if political reality forces us to spend a lot of money, then taxes need to be high to pay for it.

      Taking on debt on behalf of future generations through high spending and low taxes is the worst violation of the NAP, because it takes property and wealth from people who didn’t even have a part in the political decision making.

      1. Libertarian, and your fantasy wish is to raise taxes to match spending? If you’re going to fantasize about the impossible, what on earth makes you fantasize towards increasing the State?

        What a concept!

        1. Libertarian, and your fantasy wish is to raise taxes to match spending? If you’re going to fantasize about the impossible, what on earth makes you fantasize towards increasing the State?

          The state has already “increased” and the NAP has already been violated as soon as the government spends a dollar. You just want to stick your head in the sand pretending that if you aggress against people you don’t know (like future generations), it’s not as bad.

          Furthermore, balancing the budget and paying down the debt isn’t at all “fantasy”: most of Europe operates that way.

        2. Libertarian, and your fantasy wish is to raise taxes to match spending? If you’re going to fantasize about the impossible, what on earth makes you fantasize towards increasing the State?

          What a concept!
          musicbazz

      2. Spending without the appropriate level of taxes to pay for it satisfies the short term but will cause a decision someday to massively raise taxes or make massive cuts to government.

      3. The solution to drunken sailors spending all of our money is not to give them more money to spend. The first thing you do is cut them off. Cutting spending is the very last thing they’ll do. They will always raise taxes rather than cut spending. If you want to make them cut spending, you have to deny them the ability to raise taxes first.

        Maybe look at it another way. Can you imagine an situation in which the Congress is so flush with cash that they decide to cut spending? It’s a ridiculous proposition, isn’t it? Why would they cut spending when they’re flush with cash. Keynes was wrong about a lot of things, but giving the money to government because they can counted on to spend every penny they get and more wasn’t one of them.

        1. Well yeah man, I have thought for years that…

          ‘A) In economic tough times the Government Almighty MUST spend MORE money to stimulate the economy, to get the economy to recover!!!

          ‘B) In economic GOOD times the Government Almighty MUST spend MORE money, because they HAVE more money, and they need to buy more votes!!!

          Harry Truman after WW II was an exception I suppose, and Bill Clinton (and his Republican Congress) was briefly an exception perhaps very slightly, if we try to be honest, I think… Other than that, it looks pretty bleak…

          1. Greece cut spending.

            . . . after there was no more tax revenue to collect and after the international credit markets cut them off.

            Even then, they kept voting governments out for cutting spending. They tried voting in socialists. Right wing populists. It didn’t matter. None of them could get blood from a stone.

            Germany bailed them out to some extent, on the condition that they cut more spending. And that made them mad at the Germans!

            Spending is the very, very, very, very, very last thing they’ll do. We have to cut off every other option before they do that.

            In California, during the last recession, our pension costs were so bad, Sacramento hadn’t been able to keep up with prison construction. The conditions were so overcrowded that the federal courts ordered them to reduce crowding. They still wouldn’t cut spending on other things like bullet trains, environmental stuff, pensions. They ended up releasing violent criminals rather than cut spending. They released convicted rapists, wife beaters, arsonists, all sorts of people . . . rather than cut spending!

            If they won’t cut spending until they have no other option, then we have to work to give them no other option. The second best thing to do is to cut them off so that they can’t get their hands on more of our taxes. Sacramento howled about Prop 13. If only it weren’t for Prop 13, Sacramento wouldn’t have any problems with spending!

            Actually, if it weren’t for Prop 13, Sacramento would have spent even more of our money. Sometimes, making them run out of money to spend and jacking up the rates they have to pay the market for bonds is the only deterrent available. Keynes told us this! The government has no marginal propensity to save. They spend every penny they get–you can count on it!.

            Remember when the banks paid their TARP money back? Some people wanted them to use that money to retire debt. The assholes used it for stimulus instead–adding injury to insult.

        2. The solution to drunken sailors spending all of our money is not to give them more money to spend.

          That’s not a “solution”, that’s a “strategy”, and one that doesn’t seem to have worked so far.

          The only solution to the US debt ultimately is to pay it down or default on it. There is no other choice. Whichever option you choose (taxes, tariffs, inflation, default), every dollar we spend today is a dollar that needs to be forcibly taking from someone either now or in the future.

          Maybe look at it another way. Can you imagine an situation in which the Congress is so flush with cash that they decide to cut spending? It’s a ridiculous proposition, isn’t it?

          I have no idea how to get Congress to stop spending or to fix the fiscal mess that the US is in. I do know it’s possible because other countries have done it, and I suspect that the first step towards this is to stop preaching that it can’t be done without bankrupting the US first.

          In any case, what I am saying that it is nonsense for libertarians to object to tariffs on the grounds that they are a tax on the American people.

      4. If tariffs bring US consumer behavior closer to the free market outcome, that’s an additional benefit.

        This is what I don’t get about people who say ‘Look, as a libertarian . . . ‘. You’re never for removing the government interventions that distort a market – but you’re always for more interventions if you can slap a ”bringing behavior closer to the free market outcome’ label on it.

        1. You’re never for removing the government interventions that distort a market

          Really? What gave you that absurd idea?

          but you’re always for more interventions if you can slap a ”bringing behavior closer to the free market outcome’ label on it.

          Non-libertarian policies often require additional non-libertarian policies so that societies can function at all. Recognizing that fact of life doesn’t make one non-libertarian, it makes one a realist.

          People who think that they can turn a non-libertarian society into a libertarian society by haphazardly removing government interference according to personal preference and political expediency aren’t libertarian, they are fools.

  4. I agree that tariffs are bad. I agree that this is spiraling downwards quickly. I’ll help fight against these new tariffs.

    There’s one thing I don’t understand. Grocery prices are going up, because Americans pay more for food imported from China. Food grown in America is spoiling, because the tariffs make it economically infeasible to export it to China. People on food stamps must be starving thanks to the higher grocery prices, and if they live in urban areas, they can’t easily drive to a pick-your-own farm. Heck, the Highline in Manhattan is a park now, because we don’t ship much food by train into the city anymore. Shouldn’t there be a boom in Chinese restaurants in New York City neighborhoods where it’s easy to start a new small business so that entrepreneurs can earn income by feeding hungry Americans with the food that is not getting shipped to China?

    Oohhhhh My … that is so evil it is nefarious.

    1. Remind me again how the Arab Spring started.

    2. Just for the record, Americans spend less of their income on food than any other country in the world.

      https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/12/this-map-shows-how-much-each-country-spends-on-food/

      —-World Economic Forum

      We produce quality food so cheaply, and that’s why we export food like the Saudis export oil.

      It’s no wonder asylum seekers want to come here. If you were a legitimate refugee, wouldn’t you want to come to a country where the poor are dealing with an obesity epidemic? Take a trip down skid row in your town, and I bet you see a lot of obese homeless people. I suspect the skinny ones are mostly on meth.

      1. Thanks, Ken, that was a good and relevant read!

  5. “The CEO of Del Monte, makers of popular canned produce, said this week that the company was forced to raise prices on U.S. consumers by 10 percent due to Trump’s tariffs.”

    So, this price hike is about aluminum and steel prices in their cans?

    “Eric Boehm suggested that the most likely winner of the ongoing trade skirmishes between Trump and China would probably be bacteria, roaches, and rats, the appetites of which will be tested by all the food grown by American farmers that tariffs would cause to rot in warehouses rather than be sold.”

    So, Americans are paying more for food because of the tariffs, and American farmers can’t sell the food at higher prices?

    Its seems to me that we’d expect downward pressure on food prices if American farmers could no longer sell their food in China at higher prices because of the tariffs–and it was so bad they just had to let it rot. Selling something at a loss is generally better than not selling and letting it rot for a total loss.

    P.S. Quote Eric Boehm at your own risk. This wouldn’t be the first time his sensationalist stories didn’t add up.

    1. +100

  6. Australia’s election yesterday provides yet another lesson on what happens when parties campaign on climate change.

    The right beat the shit out of the left.

    “Labor campaigned on a pledge to reduce emissions by 45% from 2005 levels by 2030, after Australia under the conservatives became the first developed nation to abolish a price on carbon in 2014. The party also promised a push on renewable energy and electric vehicles.”

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/australias-conservatives-appear-set-to-win-surprise-victory-11558186774?

    Sounds a bit like the Green New Deal sans ALL the socialism, doesn’t it? It’s even less radical than AOC’s Green New Deal in other ways, too. For instance, AOC’s Green New Deal would eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions from energy in ten years rather than reduce emissions by 45% over 25 years.

    In 2014, Australian elections showed the world what happens when you implement taxes on carbon. It’s quite popular with a certain segment of the electorate–right up until the moment they get their energy bill. Voting for carbon taxes doesn’t cost a thing, so it’s relatively easy to get such things passed–certainly easier than getting voters to not throw the government out on its ass after the carbon taxes are passed and the bills come due. Just as soon as Australians could, they threw the government that gave them those taxes out on their ear–and then they repealed the carbon tax. The actual costs of those taxes are apparently still fresh in Australians’ minds. Let’s hope American voters don’t need to pass it to find out what’s in it.

    Memo to Environmentalists:

    If you want to implement a carbon tax and make it stick, you better eliminate other forms of taxation that are felt by average voters to an equal or greater extent. Otherwise, as soon as you get the tax implemented, the voters will mobilize to throw environmentalists out of office–and you may lose support for a carbon tax for an entire generation.

    And I’m not giving away any secrets. The environmentalists know this, which is why I strongly suspect they skew authoritarian. What’s the point of being a progressive if you can’t force people to make sacrifices against their will for “the greater good”?

    1. I’d love to see the left break itself up over this reality: cut spending and taxes or your carbon tax will fail.

      The left can either have a sales tax on carbon intensive activity, on one hand, or they can have socialist taxes like the income tax, the corporate tax, and the capital gains tax plus socialist redistribution programs like SNAP, rent assistance, Medicaid, etc. on the other hand.

      Do you want to save the world from climate change or don’t you?

  7. Australia’s conservative coalition scores stunning political victory in general election, defies polls forecasting loss

    Evidently Socialists lost majority rule in Australia.

    Should not have listened to the Hillary Clinton polling companies.

    1. That election was about climate change.

      That issue is a loser.

      1. It was the Russians what done it.

        1. Man, those guys are wizards at this stuff!

    2. “Evidently Socialists lost majority rule in Australia.”

      Umm, no. The left wing Labor Party failed, again, to win a majority.

      The Liberal/National coalition won a majority in a major upset in an election that had been predicted as unloseable for Labor.

      Polls for the last two years have predicted a win for Labor and even early election returns did so.

      Ken is absolutely correct. This election was over climate change. Labor had essentially been advocating a “New Green Deal’ in OZ and the voters have rejected it.

      1. Just to be clear. The Liberal/National coalition* have been in power since 2013.

        *Conservative is generally a bad word in OZ connoting Monarchical and Aristocratic privilege. The Liberal Party was established as a pro free enterprise-private property political entity much along the lines of the British Liberal Party as it existed in the 19th century.

        The National Party was originally the Country Party which stood for Farming and rural community interests. As such it is the more “conservative” of the two partners in the coalition.

      1. Just as a point of interest, the Liberal Party in Australia are like the moderate Republicans here in the U.S. They typically roll themselves into a coalition with The Conservatives, with the creative name of, “The Coalition”. They’re liberal in the sense that Adam Smith and John Locke were liberal. To make things more confusing, the Australians don’t seem to spell “Labor” with a “u”.

        Tony Abbot was treated like shit by his own coalition. He was elected in 2013, in part, to get rid of that carbon tax. We might think of him as like a Donald Trump figure, not necessarily on every issue, but in that plenty of people inside The Coalition didn’t like him and didn’t want him–thought he was an embarrassment to the party.

        A couple of years after Australia voted the Coalition into power under Abbot, his own party decided to sack him and replace him with Turnbull, who was variously called “Turncoat” by Coalition supporters in your local pub. Imagine how people would react if the Republicans got together today and decided to replace Trump with Bill Weld.

        There are things to like about parliamentary systems rather than presidential systems, which is why I really liked it when the state legislatures picked our Senators. Seemed to get the balance just right between a Senate with an emphasis on ideology rather than personality–but still letting us pick our own President.

        Incidentally, if the left is upset about there being an electoral college in the wake of Hillary Clinton losing, how much worse should they feel about parliamentary systems elsewhere in the English speaking world? No, you’re not smart enough to choose your prime minister. Only the party elites are smart enough to do that. Come to think of it, the progressives in the Democratic Party might like that. The super delegates to the 2020 convention could easily tip the scales like they never have before.

        1. Just a minor correction, Ken, but the Coalition consists of the Liberal Party, The National Party (fka the Country Party) and the Liberal National Party which joins the coalition when it gets members elected in the state of Queensland. The Conservative Party in Australia is a minor party which rarely gets its candidates elected to the Federal House of Representatives.

          The use of the “Labor” spelling dates back to the late 19th century when Australian politicians on the left were caught up in a craze of American admiration. If they had had there way they would have forced the adoption of American spelling universally. As it is the word labor as used to mean “work” or “effort” is still spelled with a “u” as are all other “or” words.

          An example of Americanism in Australian politics is Senator King O’Malley who was probably born in Kansas, but claimed to have been born in Canada so that he would be eligible as a British subject to be elected to office. O’Malley was a notorious prohibitionist who managed to keep getting elected by the hard drinking miners on the west coast of Tasmania because of his staunch advocacy of the “rights of the working man”.

          The “working man” is a sacred figure in Australian politicians. Scott Morrison probably won in part because of the vote of workers (they already had the vote of management and owners) in the mining and construction sectors which have been under attack from Labor for quite a while.

          Just as in the USA organized labor is increasingly divided between the leadership and members of public sector unions who support Labor and the members of private sector unions like construction and miners who have been increasingly voting Liberal.

          1. Oh, if you interested in the story of King O’Malley here is a link.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_O%27Malley

            He is one of those “bigger than life” characters” that only appear as factual characters in the American and Australian myths.

            1. America and Australia are siblings with a love/hate relationship with each other and their mother country England.

              Canadians OTOH are so bland and inoffensive that they only have a like/dislike relationship with Mum and brother. Though lately their dislike of older brother has become more intense because of a sort of smug superiority complex and they have always felt a need to keep up ties with Mother so big brother doesn’t totally swallow them.

          2. The point was to communicate to other people here in this thread that the Liberals in Australia are not like liberals here in the U.S. The point was to show that the Liberals and the Conservatives are more part of what Americans might think of as small “c” conservatives.

            “National Party” isn’t instructive to my fellow Americans in that regard. Americans don’t read newspapers and understand why so called “Liberals” are part of a coalition against something like the Green New Deal, and they don’t read “National Party” and really have a sense of what that’s about in Australia either.

            1. I already explained above (May.18.2019 at 4:18 pm) the positions of the partners in the Australian conservative coalition.

  8. By “US Farmers” of course you mean large corporations that receive millions in subsidies from the federal government. Not winning my sympathies.

    1. The average farmer and rancher I know (I work in Ag education and consultation) are hurting from low commodity prices. These prices however predate Trump. Additionally, they are often the fault of China and India. China announced (lied) it had huge stockpiles of wheat and corn ready for sale in 2016, causing wheat and corn prices (which were already trending down) to crash. They then bought US wheat and corn at these lower prices. It turns out, by most estimates their stockpiles are worthless, weathered and not suitable even for animal feed. Additionally, there is little to no infrastructure to transport their grain from their grain growing western provinces to the east coast terminals for export. The subsidize their grain farmers while having no way to sell the grain. India in December of 2017, without provocation and only to protect domestic pea, lentil and chickpea growers, slapped huge tariffs (some in excess of 100%) on US and Canadian pulse crops (pea, lentils, chickpeas etc). This caused a massive crash in what would normally be a lucrative market (as India and Pakistan are our largest markets for these commodities). Pakistan slapped slightly lower but still prohibitive tariffs. Once again India and Pakistan were unable to domestically produce enough, and purchased US pulse crops but at extremely devalued prices (and just enough not to raise prices). We are starting to see increasing field pea prices, as American companies are now fractionating it for the protein which is added into pet food, health products and fortifying cereals. Wheat prices are having a moderate rebound because weather events have damaged grain storage in the upper plains, while cold weather has delayed planting in the upper Midwest, flooding has wiped out fields and weather has slowed harvest of winter wheat in the southern plains. Here in Montana and North Dakota we are over a month behind in planting.

      1. Despite this, most farmers (who have dealt with China for decades, as they are our number one customer in this area) feel China’s trade practices need to be confronted and support holding them accountable, they just wish they weren’t the ones paying for it. Also, I love the rich farmer trope. Yes most family farms are incorporated, for legal, insurance and tax reasons, and most farmers have millions of dollars in assets (and possibly millions in gross income) but very little in liquid assets and their net pay is pretty slim. Profit margins are slim at best. And I know the trope, we’ll find different crops to grow, except that some areas are only suitable for a small range of crops. They are well suited for these crops but I’ll suited for others.

        1. And, it should be noted that bad farm economics for about a decade have contributed to an increasing suicide rate among farmers. In fact, farmers have one of the highest risk for suicide of any profession now, and it is only growing. Farming is a way of life. They often grew up on the farm and they live it. They are attached to their land. They work nearly constantly (especially if they raise livestock). Even when there are not crops in the field, you have equipment to fix for next season, crops to market, business decisions to make, livestock to care for. Most farmers and even more so ranchers, rarely ever take a day off or go on vacation. They are raised to be independent (you never ask how many acres they own or how many head of cattle they have). Their towns are dieing as everything is centralized. Their constantly derided by those who know nothing about agriculture. Their blamed for destroying the environment (despite little science supporting this) for massive profits (which they rarely actually make). They constantly deal with new regulations that make it even harder to make a profit, because urban legislatures listen to urban environmental groups pushing pseudoscientific woo. They are told that they are backwards, racists, uneducated, and dieing off by the media (and the sooner the better). Then low commodity prices, a hail storm or flood event, a late blizzard or a drought, destroys any chance of breaking even, let alone even less of making a profit. This goes on for two or three seasons (I know guys who haven’t had a marketable crop because of weather and plant disease for three years and are now facing a disease outbreak again, threatening to make this the fourth year without a crop) and the banker will no longer (often can’t despite wanting to, most local bankers I know understand and empathize) extend their credit. That foreclosure starts and their seems no alternative. But please continue to judge them and show them no sympathy.

          1. Thanks for your words of sympathy for farmers, and the details.

            Crop diseases are horrible and the public gets little word of them. Where I grew up they like to grow cantaloupes. A disease has gotten into the soil and will travel in muddy boots and shared / traded / bought-and-sold farm implements. Then the cooties (bacteria? Can’t recall) will contaminate the fields for years and years, and prevent growing cantaloupes and related plants (pumpkins, pickles I think maybe, etc.).

            But yeah, small farmers and ranchers are salt of the earth, and are under-appreciated!

            1. I find most people don’t understand that most farm “corporations” are family ran and are incorporated for legal, banking and tax reasons. Furthermore, and Reason is terrible about this one, they make the mistake of looking at total assets without realizing most of that is equipment and land, little is actual liquid money (unless it’s borrowed). And yes the paychecks are huge, but take home pay, after taxes, mortgages, operating loans, credit payments to seed companies, payments for storage at elevators, payments to fertilizer and chemical companies (also usually bought on credit), equipment loans, vehicle loans etc, take home pay is often lower middle class. That is why they have the old saying “behind every successful farmer/rancher is a wife who works in town”.

  9. “White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday acknowledged that the Chinese do not directly pay tariffs on goods coming into the U.S.,” CNBC reported this week, “contradicting President Donald Trump’s claims that China will pay for tariffs imposed by the U.S.”

    I actually watched the piece and it was embarrassing seeing Kudlow squirm and hem and haw and “I suppose you could look at it that way” and do everything possible to not contradict Trump. The media is gleefully reporting this as Kudlow “contradicting” Trump, but the much worse fact is that Kudlow refused to flatly contradict Trump. He kept insisting that China was “paying” the tariffs because it was hurting their exports when that is clearly not what Trump means when he says China is paying the tariffs. And when Trump went further and insisted that China is paying the tariffs and that people who say otherwise are trying to mislead you, well, either Trump is retarded or he thinks you’re retarded. Trump may be pig-ignorant and yet ignorantly confident in his supreme knowledge of absolutely everything, but he’s not retarded. He’s been a con-man all his life and he knows who’s retarded.

  10. Trump should not have the power to do this as it is the job of the legislature. Tell them to do their fucking jobs

  11. I’ll just leave this here:

    https://www.foxbusiness.com/economy/capitalism-socialism-steve-forbes

    “Trade disputes are a hidden tax on businesses and consumers. When countries fall prey to the myth of trade imbalances and start imposing tariffs on imports, capitalism is turned on its head.

    Countries don’t trade with each other, people and companies do, and they both get something they want in the process. If governments would butt out and let the free market dictate prices and terms, everyone would prosper.”

    1. I agree with this and if people are struggling you catch them with a social safety net.

      1. Fine, but perhaps we should be careful lest the “social safety net” becomes a hammock.

  12. The Del Monte guy also blames trucking/logistics costs and full employment for his company’s woes. Their moving away from traditional metal cans and, IIRC, the steel and aluminum tariffs have just been lifted on our NA trading partners.

    1. I expect full employment and hindrances to the inflow of illegal labor are forcing Del Monte to raise wages. Companies “like to plan ahead” and Del Monte was probably planning for continued high unemployment and a dependable stream of cheap imported labor.

      1. If I were to raise prices I certainly would point the finger of blame where I could to avoid charges of being greedy. Easier than just admitting you need to grow profits for the shareholders.

  13. “China is not paying the cost of tariffs,” Washington Post columnist Mark Thiessen, who supports the tariffs, wrote this week. “American businesses and consumers are paying.”

    here……www.marstip.com

  14. “As messy as things are, they could get uglier still.”

    Best GDP numbers in around a decade.
    Lowest unemployment numbers in forever.

    I’ll take a lot more of that “ugly”, please.

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  16. The United States Trade Representative, which led the seven-month investigation into China’s intellectual property theft and made recommendations to the Trump administration, found that “Chinese theft of American IP currently costs between $225 billion and $600 billion annually.”

    How is it we never hear about the cost of doing nothing about China?

  17. […] feds information about the immigration status of prisoners in city custody. And even Trump’s trade wars have so far just stalled, not yet reversed, the long Wall Street […]

  18. […] Trump continues on his shortsighted warpath of ever escalating tariffs on Chinese goods. “Tariffs will make our […]

  19. […] feds information about the immigration status of prisoners in city custody. And even Trump’s trade wars have so far just stalled, not yet reversed, the long Wall Street […]

  20. […] no tariffs at all, his actions (and his general “trade is bad” worldview) make it difficult to take that […]

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