Donald Trump

Trump's Trade War Turns 1. Here's What We've Lost.

Even if Trump's tariffs go away, the debilitating economic effects are likely to linger for years.


A trade war doesn't have a body count, but that doesn't mean it can't put lives at risk. Just ask Judy Bannon.

In 1998, Bannon founded Cribs For Kids, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that provides small cribs to low-income parents who otherwise might not be able to afford one. Deaths from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), where a baby seemingly inexplicably dies while sleeping, had been declining for years thanks to then-new guidelines calling for infants to sleep alone, on their back, and in a crib.

Anyone could follow the first two rules. But not everyone can afford a crib. In the 20 years since Bannon founded Cribs For Kids, the group has grown from a two-woman operation with a $2,500 budget to a national nonprofit that re-sold, at cost, more than 100,000 cribs last year for about $50 each. The number of babies dying from SIDS has continued to fall.

The cribs arrive from China, packed 1,450 to a shipping container. And each time they are delivered, border tariffs take their toll. "Every time a container of cribs comes in—either to the port in New York or in California or wherever" the import broker who contracts with Bannon's nonprofit "has to write a check for $5,000," Bannon explains. The cribs are held hostage on the boat until the check is written, and those funds go directly to the U.S. Treasury. It's crazy that anyone could think China is paying for the tariffs, Bannon says. She has to immediately reimburse the import broker or else the cribs would never leave the docks.

Cribs—which can be imported under several different classifications—were generally imported duty-free before last summer, when President Donald Trump imposed a tariff to 10 percent on thousands of Chinese-made items worth an estimated $250 billion annually.

Now, the bill might be getting a whole lot bigger. Trump has threatened to raise the tariffs on the items hit with the 10 percent tariffs last summer to 25 percent. Additionally, billions of dollars of still un-tariffed goods could also be slapped with a 25 percent tariff in the coming weeks. As a result, each future shipment of cribs will be subject to an import tax of about $15,000. (Any shipments already on their way are exempt from the increase.)

Paying the tariff bill at the port sets off a chain reaction. As a nonprofit, Cribs For Kids doesn't have a profit margin that can be cut to cover those import taxes. There's no option except to pass along the tariff cost to buyers, which are often nonprofits too, operating on tight budgets, with the generosity of donors. A $10,000 grant to buy cribs for low-income moms will be worth only $7,500 once the full-fledged tariffs kick in. The rest goes to the U.S. Treasury.

"More importantly," Bannon says, "that means 25 percent fewer babies will be given a safe sleeping environment, which will increase the number of deaths that are occurring because of SIDS and accidental suffocation in beds."

It has now been a full year since President Donald Trump embarked on his campaign to reshape global trade by imposing a series of tariffs, first on steel and aluminum, then on about $200 billion in Chinese-made goods. But despite his repeated promises that China would pay, Americans—from babies to beer drinkers to aluminum workers—are paying the price.

In dollar terms, the cost of the trade war is easy enough to calculate: The U.S. Treasury has collected about $18 billion in revenue from the tariffs Trump has imposed since June 1 of last year.

But there are unseen costs that won't show up on a ledger, and losses that won't be fully realized for years to come, some of which will linger long after Trump inks a trade deal with China or leaves office.

The scope of the conflict is still expanding, sometimes in surprising ways. Last week, with little warning, Trump announced to plan to hit Mexican imports with new tariffs—potentially sinking a nascent trade deal still awaiting congressional approval, and signaling that the Trump administration plans to use tariffs not only in trade negotiations but to affect other policy changes too.

We may never know the true cost of the trade war in terms of lost opportunities and unmade investments. Like any war, the longer it lasts, the greater the toll.

The Soybean Ship That Tried to Outrun a Trade War

When it comes to the tangible costs of the trade war, there's no better example than soybeans.

America grows more soybeans than any other place in the world, and nearly half of the crop is exported each year—mostly to China. In 2017, the last full year before the trade war, China purchased 61 percent of total U.S. soybean exports and more than 30 percent of overall U.S. soybean production. That foreign demand has nudged soybeans past even King Corn as America's top crop. Last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers planted 89 million acres of soybeans and merely 88 million acres of corn.

The business thus relies on container ships to move across the globe—ships like the Peak Pegasus, which in June of last year set sail from the U.S. to China carrying $20 million worth of soybeans. The ship departed just one week after Trump started the trade war by announcing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. And it was still in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on July 1, when Trump escalated the trade war by hitting about $50 billion in Chinese imports with tariffs.

Trade-watchers predicted that China would retaliate by putting tariffs on American agricultural goods, including the all-important soybean. So for six days in July, the 47,000-ton ship raced the trade war toward the Chinese port city of Dalian, briefly achieving a sort of perverse online fame thanks to automated trackers that showed the ship's location, speed, and intended destination. On Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media platform, messages about the ship actually outnumbered posts about the then-ongoing World Cup soccer tournament. The Peak Pegasus was trying to outrun a trade war.

It didn't make it.

On July 6, when the Peak Pegasus was just 25 miles off the coast, China imposed tariffs on American-grown soybeans. That meant that in addition to $20 million worth of crops, the ship was also carrying an estimated $6 million in new taxes. For the next month, the ship floated off the coast of China, apparently under orders to wait out the trade war. But keeping a ship like the Peak Pegasus at sea costs about $400,000 per month. It could only hold out for so long.

The journey of the Peak Pegasus shows just how disruptive trade wars can be, not only in terms of direct cost but in terms of the uncertainty they create. That uncertainty can have huge and lasting impacts on the American economy. In the soybean industry, it's already made its mark.

In 2016, China imported a record 36 million metric tons of soybeans from America. Last year, it bought just 8.3 million metric tons of the crop, leaving farmers and exporters with a glut of supply and not enough demand. Naturally, prices have dropped sharply.

"Soybean prices are 20 to 25 percent, or even more, below pre-tariff levels," says John Heisdorffer, an Iowa farmer and chairman of the American Soy Association. "The sentiment out in farm country is getting grimmer by the day. Our patience is waning, our finances are suffering, and the stress from months of living with the consequences of these tariffs is mounting."

In October, the Trump administration had tried easing that pain by authorizing $12 billion in payments to farmers to offset losses caused by the Chinese tariffs. After talks with China collapsed in mid-May, Trump announced another round of $16 billion in aid payments to farmers.

Those payments can offset some of the immediate losses. "It would make the difference between operating at a substantial loss for the year and having an opportunity to break even," says Brent Bible, who grows dozens of acres of soybeans on his farm outside of Lafayette, Indiana. His farm usually operates with a profit margin of about 8 percent, so the 25 percent decline in soybean prices since June of last year has dumped him deep into the red. To make matters worse, steel and aluminum tariffs caused a spike in the price of farming equipment.

But the bigger concern for Bible—and for soybean farmers across the country—is the unknown long-term consequences the trade war will have. Will the massive Chinese market for soybeans be there if and when the tariffs are lifted in a year, or two, or five?

Brazilian exporters have already swooped in to fill China's demand. Brazil actually exported so many soybeans in the second half of last year that it had to import some American soybeans to meet domestic demand—and that might permanently reshape the global soybean trade, to the detriment of American growers.

"The logistics and the infrastructure we have here in the United States means we can present that for sale anywhere else in the world. We have mastered that," says Bible. "Our competitive advantage has been that we are a reliable source of product. This has taken that away."

In other words, buyers know they can depend on the American export market. The United States has a huge supply of soybeans, sure, but it also has a dependable infrastructure to move all that product from farms to ports to other countries expediently. If you're buying soybeans from Brazil or from other, even less developed markets, there's a bit more risk involved.

It's a risk Chinese importers are only going to be more willing to take, now that another round of tit-for-tat tariffs have been announced. China is expected to continue making "significant investments" in South American infrastructure, "ensuring soybeans grown there can arrive in Chinese ports more quickly and economically," warns the Iowa Soybean Association.

In the end, the Peak Pegasus couldn't hold out. It went to port and paid the tariffs, adding some $6 million to the price of its beans. The trade war means that next time, the ship might not start the journey in the first place.

"The soybean market in China took us more than 40 years to build," says Davie Stephens, a soybean farmer from Kentucky and president of the American Soy Association. "As this confrontation continues, it will become increasingly difficult to recover."

How Aluminum Tariffs Hurt American Aluminum Manufacturing

When the steel and aluminum tariffs hit in June of last year, Alcoa, the country's biggest aluminum producer, looked like a sure bet to emerge as a winner in the trade war.

Tariffs that artificially increased the price of imported aluminum should have been a boon to the 130-year-old New York company, giving it relief from foreign competition and boosting sales and revenue. But less than three months later, Alcoa cut its profit projections and asked the Commerce Department for a special exemption from the aluminum tariffs. Tariffs meant to protect American businesses ended up hurting them.

The problem facing Alcoa was the exact opposite of the one plaguing American soybean farmers. It's not that Americans need to trade aluminum because the country makes too much of it, it's because Americans consume too much. "Even if all the curtailed smelting capacity in the U.S. was back online and producing metal, the United States would still need to import the majority of its aluminum," Tim Reyes, president of Alcoa's aluminum operations, told The Wall Street Journal last year.

An aluminum manufacturing company, it turns out, still has to purchase a lot of aluminum, and the reality of a global marketplace means that doesn't just happen in a single country. In Alcoa's case, the company operates smelters on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, with different grades of aluminum produced in different places and then shipped to wherever it is needed. That means moving goods across borders—goods that Trump subjected to tariffs.

In Trump's telling, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which governs trade between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, is a "horrible" deal. Much of the Trump administration's trade war has been oriented toward forcing Canada, Mexico, China, and, to a lesser extent, Europe, to agree to more favorable terms for trading with the United States. But after a year in the trenches, it is difficult for the administration to claim a clear victory on the NAFTA front—despite the inking, in November, of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The USMCA, which is meant to replace NAFTA, is a far cry from Trump's promise to tear up the old agreement. Instead, it largely updates NAFTA to include provisions, like a mechanism for settling online copyright disputes, that weren't on the radar when the original deal was signed in 1994.

To get a deal that mostly preserves the status quo, the Trump administration whacked American steel- and aluminum-consuming businesses with tariffs that hiked the price of those metals by between 10 and 25 percent—and American producers raised their prices to match. Although Trump rescinded those tariffs on May 17, American metal-consuming businesses are left feeling like they've been used—forced to pay higher prices for 12 months without any real benefits emerging in the USMCA deal.

What the trade war did accomplish, however, was eroding at least some of the trust that has allowed the United States and Canada to share the world's longest border peacefully for centuries.

"It's not just about economics, it's about the rule of law. When you build relationships—trading relationships—they are also about the other side being able to say they trust your word," Rocco Rossi, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said during a May event in Ohio.

He warned that the damage done to the U.S.-Canada relationship will last longer than the trade war—which, as far as Canada goes, mostly ended about two weeks later with Trump's decision to withdraw those tariffs on May 17.

"Understand that there are many more people in Canada now who believe America will simply act in its own interest and is not the champion of the rule of law that has been a hallmark of the international trading community," Rossi said.

A Trade War With China? Or the World?

Before the trade war began, Trump famously promised that it would be "good and easy to win." Yet as the conflict enters its second year, there's been a noticeable shift.

In April, during an interview with Bloomberg News, Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House's Council of Economic Advisers, compared the tariffs to a bitter pill that must be swallowed to improve the economy in the long-run. "We've had these very bad trade deals, and we are taking the medicine to improve them," he said. A few weeks later, White House Advisor Larry Kudlow bucked the official presidential line and admitted, under questioning by Fox News' Chris Wallace, that American consumers and businesses are indeed paying for the tariffs. Later in May, Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Ark.), a key Trump ally in Congress, compared the plight of farmers suffering from tariffs with the sacrifices made by American troops in real wars abroad.

"These tariffs are going to end up hurting both Chinese and some Americans, I'll grant you that," Cotton told CBS' This Morning on May 13. "There will be some sacrifices on the part of Americans, I grant you that, but I also would say that sacrifice is pretty minimal compared to the sacrifices that our soldiers make overseas that are fallen heroes that are laid to rest in Arlington make."

That's a long way from "easy to win."

The shift in rhetoric seems to mirror a shift in strategy. The lifting of the steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from Canada and Mexico means Trump might be less likely to pursue obviously counterproductive tactics—and that he might be recognizing the value of not going it alone.

But the shift toward China portends a protracted, painful trade war between the world's two biggest economies.

That could happen because the real friction between the U.S. and China is not—no matter how many times the president talks about—the trade deficit. It's really about two bigger things: China's abuse of international rules governing the intellectual property of foreign businesses operating there, and the Chinese government's desire to achieve technological parity—or superiority—to the United States. Those issues lurked in the background during trade talks that began last year and ended in mid-May without a deal.

It's still possible a deal could be reached in the coming months. American companies could shift supply chains to countries like Vietnam, as Trump has urged. China could respond by making concessions on trade.

But what if that doesn't work?

"You could see this bifurcation of the global economy—one set of standards led by the Chinese and one set of standards led by the United States," says Dan Ikenson, director of the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. "That is going to be very difficult to untangle."

The split is already happening. As part of the latest hit at China, the Trump administration has effectively blacklisted Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei from doing business in the United States. It's a potential bargaining chip for an eventual trade deal, but if China and America settle into a long-term stalemate, Ikenson says, the world could end up divided between a Chinese sphere of influence where Huawei tech prevails, and one where American companies like Google hold sway.

"The costs of this process are going to continue to manifest themselves for a while," says Ikenson, "and probably long after any agreement is reached."

In the weeks after Trump lifted steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, a move that was intended to smooth the congressional passage of the USMCA, it looked like he might be narrowing the focus of the trade conflict to China.

But the president remained angry about what he sees as Mexican indifference toward migrant caravans crossing into the United States from Central America. At the end of May, he ordered new tariffs on all Mexican imports to begin the second week of June. The initial 5 percent levies will increase to 25 percent between June and October unless the Mexican government acquiesces to Trump's yet-unstated demands.

The threat of escalating tariffs adds a new dimension to the trade war. Previously, Trump's defenders had been able to argue—perhaps unpersuasively—that the president was using tariffs to achieve better trade deals for the United States. That might require short term "sacrifice" or the swallowing of some "bitter pills" but it would be worth it in the long run.

But that argument has collapsed. Trump's new tariff threats against Mexico have likely ended the chance for a speedy passage of the USMCA through Congress. He has, effectively, killed the one tangible achievement of the trade war.

"Trade policy and border security are separate issues. This is a misuse of presidential tariff authority," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which handles trade issues, said last week. "I support nearly every one of President Trump's immigration policies, but this is not one of them."

"This is a tax." 

Judy Bannon has just returned from two days in Washington, D.C., where she crisscrossed the Capitol building to plead her case with lawmakers from both parties.

"This is a tax," she tells them. "This is a blatant tax on a nonprofit organization that's devoting its time to getting the infant mortality rate down in this country."

In fact, it's a tax on everyone. If Trump follows through with his threats to hit all Mexican imports with a 5 percent tariff, the overall cost of the trade war will exceed the cost of the 1993 tax hikes signed by then-President Bill Clinton, when measured as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). If he escalates things further and hits all Chinese and Mexican imports with 25 percent tariffs—which he has threatened to do—it would be the biggest tax increase on Americans since the Lyndon B. Johnson administration.

If we reach that point, the cost of the trade war will have canceled out the benefits of the 2017 tax cuts for all but the highest-earning Americans, according to a new analysis from The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax policy center. Tariffs are regressive taxes that hit low- and middle-income earners hardest.

But now that the less politically palatable tariffs on steel and aluminum imports have been partially lifted, Bannon's not sure there is much hope for congressional relief.

"The president is right to confront Beijing on issues like intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, and cyber theft of trade secrets," Sen. Pat Toomey (R–Pa.), one of the lawmakers Bannon met with last week, told Reason in a statement. "However, using tariffs to force an agreement with China hurts Americans. The hardship Cribs for Kids is facing is a clear example of this. I hope the Chinese agree to major structural changes soon that lead to the mutual removal of all tariffs."

Bannon has also filled out forms with the Commerce Department to request a special exemption for imported cribs. At a series of hearings in August, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative's special tariff committee heard from individuals and businesses seeking relief from the new tariffs. Kelly Mariotti, executive director of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, said the tariffs on cribs and other nursery items would "significantly" increase the retail prices for consumers. Worse, she said, was the danger posed to children.

"Preventing accidental deaths related to the care of infants, SIDS, and sleep-related causes of infant deaths will not be enhanced by increasing costs to the American consumer," Mariotti said. The tariffs "will only prevent the average American family from obtaining safe certified juvenile products that are necessary for the care and protection of their children."

The committee was unmoved. In September, the tariff exemptions were granted for car seats, high chairs, and some other nursery gear. Requests for exemptions for bassinets, diaper bags, and other items, including cribs, were denied.

What should a nonprofit like Cribs For Kids do? On Twitter, the president has suggested that businesses wanting to avoid tariff payments have an easy alternative. "Build them here!"

Sure, says Bannon, she'd love to do that. There's just one problem.

"Nobody in the United States makes these cribs. They're only made in China. No place in Vietnam makes them, no place in India makes them," she tells Reason, frustration rising in her voice.

Tariffs on imported child car seats were lifted in September of last year, but tariffs on the component parts of those car seats were left in place. That puts American manufacturers of child safety equipment at a significant disadvantage unless they can somehow source all those component parts in America too.

"And who is going to invest in a factory" to make cribs or car seats or anything else, Bannon wonders, when "next week he could drop the tariffs and everyone is going to be able to run back to China?"

Trump's surprise tariffs on Mexico will only add to that uncertainty. Indeed, after a year of fighting a trade war, the administration still does not seem to have a clear idea about the goals of the conflict, or an exit strategy.

Cribs For Kids, like the other victims of the president's attention-deficit trade policy, thus has little choice but to pass along the added cost of the tariffs. This, in turn, has led to buyers accusing her organization of trying to run a scam.

"They'll say 'what are you talking about, the president says China is paying the tariffs,'" she fumes. "We're being governed by tweets."

What have we lost in the trade war? Trust.

Between the heads of nonprofits that otherwise share a common goal of improving the lives of poor mothers and babies, but now wonder who is scamming whom. Between long-time allies like the U.S. and Canada. Between soybean buyers in China and farmers in the United States—people who never met each other and never will, but who trusted in the almost magical power of supply and demand to ensure both got what they needed, when they needed it, even on the opposite side of the world.

The president cannot be trusted not to lie about the most basic reality of his trade policy. Even after signing a trade deal with Mexico, Trump betrayed that trust with more tariffs. Why should China trust him? And what happens when a global superpower and a rising rival can't trust each other?

The battle for tech supremacy between China and the United States is likely to continue for years to come. For the foreseeable future, that means the cribs Judy Bannon wants to import—and the infants who could be sleeping in them—will be caught in the crossfire.

NEXT: Nobody Should Be Placed in Solitary Confinement—Not Even Paul Manafort

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  1. “Debilitating”? Really? In an economy where wages are rising, unemployment is at historic lows, and growth is around 3% with low inflation?

    There is a “free trade and cheap shit at any cost” argument to be made. I don’t agree with it but it is a reasonable position. Reasons endless histronics and exageration, however, make that position seem absurd. Much like immigration, on trade reason seems hell bent on becoming a false flag operation for the opposite side.

    1. “unemployment is at historic lows”

      Remember what AOC said — low unemployment just means people are working two jobs and can barely survive.


    2. Unemployment is NOT at historic lows. It only shows up that way because so many people are no longer counted as looking for work. That’s done to previous Presidents, but Trump has magically erased it.

      Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Trumpistas. What a combination!

      1. Actually it is at a near 30 year year low for African Americans and Latinos. Trumps so racist he’s got minorities earning more than they did under Obama!

        And you’ve got the “no longer looking for work” thing twisted. All those sleezy ways to pull people off the unemployment tally were instated under Obama when he adopted the international labor industries way of calculating it, because his economy blew chunks so hard they had to fudge massive amounts of data to keep him from being a complete embarrassment. And though trump has spoken of using the pre Obama method, to this point there’s no difference between how Obama and trumps admins calculate unemployment. No matter how you slice it, the numbers are vette for trump and it is apples to apples.

        1. (1) Also, Trump’s Prison Reform Bill has helped blacks & Hispanics tremendously as well…Obummy had 8 years & Holder The Racist Scolder was there for most of them & they kept talking about prison reform , but, never did anything about it!

          (2) Obummy’s administration was absolutely the best at fudging & distorting fiscal numbers. For example: (1) When their Stimulus Money went to states & they used it to shore up their budgets & not make any cuts, like for example teachers or cops, etc. Obummy counted those as JOBS CREATED!!!….LOL! When the money went to a place that did not cut back on sanitation workers, Obummy counted that as a GREEN JOB CREATED…AOC has nothing on Obummy when it comes to sanctimonious Green BullShit!

      2. Abc… labor participation rates are up since Obama left.. may want to check your talking points.

        1. It’s funny how team fanboys parrot the other side when their team has the ball. Chocolate Jesus and Donald Mountain Dew Camacho might as well be the same guy.

        2. You mean like shown here?

          Cite some better source if you can. If not, go pound sand.

        3. Yup. Even with the government fudging the numbers on employment participation rates of Americans, Trump’s strategy has more Americans employed than in 50 years.

          1. Wrong. The participation rate right now is the same as it was in 1978. It peaked around y2k.

            1. It is when you factor out the declining participation of retiring baby boomers. That went into overdrive around 2010.

              1. I’m pretty sure retired people are not included in the participation rate one way or the other.

                “People not included in the participation rate include those who do not want to work or can’t work. This includes students, homemakers, incarcerated people and retirees.”

                1. It’s still up from Obama’s numbers, and likely to improve.

                  1. You’re still full of shit and likely to move the goalposts.

    3. I for one, welcome our new Reason Overlords! They want to Overlord our Government Almighty Overlords… Our Government Almighty Overlords being the ones who are in the wrong, against human freedom. They (our Government Almighty Overlords) want to decide for me, which products and services I should buy, w/o large extra taxes… They want to pick my economic winners and losers; to put their big fat smelly fingers on the weighing scales of my economic freedoms, because the bastards think that they know better than I do!

      Same exact thing when I want to hire an illegal sub-human to work for me, or if I want to otherwise associate with him or her. By giving them food, for instance (is already happening). It’s getting so bad, I have better say “proper papers please”, before I open a door or push an elevator button for someone… They might be an illegal sub-human, and an ICE agent might bust me for helping them!

      So I for one welcome our Reason Overlords, who want to help me get the REAL-bastard Overlords to BACK OFF!!!

    4. Good article, I like the references to the true reasons behind China being assholes.

      Long on anecdotal evidence, but appreciate the broader statistics cited.

      I can’t wait when the commentators here at Reason are all again critical of tariffs.

      1. I can’t wait when the commentators here at Reason are all again critical of tariffs.

        That’s be a cold day in hell, or more likely, the day a Democrat is elected President. Most Trumpistas won’t even admit that tariffs are taxes, let alone on consumers.

        1. “Most Trumpistas”

          It’s so weird how you are obviously a sock for Old Mex.

          “won’t even admit that tariffs are taxes,”

          Despite simpletons who think that two similar things are exactly the same constantly requiring us to dumb it down for them.

          1. I don’t see you saying anything of substance. Did you forget that part of your rant?

            1. Tulp’s a very disturbed, stupid person.

              1. Tony, that is a more apt description of you. Not Tulpa.

            2. We call it the alphabet troll.

        2. You wont admit that illegal immigration utilizes tax money and is in essence, due to fungible monetary belief, also a tax on citizens.

          1. What the hell does immigration have to do with tariffs?

            Shit, together, get it.

            1. Just off the top of my head, they’re both about the conditions and process for entry into the country.
              It’s kinda obvious, but it’s your dude who brought it up anyway.

          2. As far as Social Security taxes go, we the natives are the moochers, bleeding the illegal sub-humans dry!

            See “The Truth About Undocumented Immigrants and Taxes” (in quotes) in your Google search window will take you straight there, hit number one… AKA For details about us natives mooching off of the taxes of the illegal sub-humans…

      2. Absolutists are morons whether they are forever anti tariff or forever pro tariff. It takes a lazy intellectual to stay at absolutesike you and Eric seem to profess.

        1. Is that declaration as absolute as it sounds?

    5. “Debilitating”? Really? In an economy where wages are rising, unemployment is at historic lows, and growth is around 3% with low inflation?

      Enjoy it while it lasts. If these tariffs stay in place, those conditions won’t last long.

      1. I have a weird memory from 2015 of a bunch of Republicans telling me that 3% growth with low inflation was the pathetic result of Obama’s socialism. I guess I must have dreamed it, because they can’t possibly be looking at the same numbers and saying “good, because Trump,” right?

        1. Your memory is hazy….The growth was only 2% or 2.2%

          1. Your memory is hazy

            No it isn’t.

        2. Average real GDP growth under Obama was 1.88%

          GDP is not a great indicator of true economic activity but if we are comparing GDP, then we have that and 2.5 years of Trump GDP.

    6. You forgot to tell all the blacks how good they have it.

      1. A lot better than when the traitor Obama was in charge.

      2. Tony, it very upsetting to Lefties like you that Black Americans are getting off welfare at record rates and that demographic has unemployment at record lows.

        1. Tony, like every white progtard likes to have his slaves all being ‘good ones’ working Dutifully in the democrat plantation.

    7. One other “benefit” of Trumps tariffs is they could cause some slight inflation.

      I say benefit because the Fed had a 2% annual inflation target which the year have been struggling to meet since at least 2008. So the Fed at least will be a little happy if Trump can help them with at least 3 of their goals (stated or unstated): 2% inflation, keeping the stock market in check, and keeping economic growth below 4%. The only drawback is they won’t help raise the unemployment rate up to 4-5% where they would probably be more comfortable.

    8. We get it. Eric has Trump Derangement Syndrome.
      Would you rather have had the thief and crony capitalist Clinton?
      Those were your choices. Grow up Eric.

  2. Drumpf inherited the strongest economy in US history, and has totally ruined it.


    1. Didn’t Krugman say that the US would hit a massive depression when trump was elected?

      Although I do think you’re a troll if I recall your previous comments.

      1. ” If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.”

      2. He’s not a troll, he’s a parody. Get your taxonomy straight.

      3. Yeppers. And some progressives were even ‘advising’ people sell their stocks.

    2. Sure, Øbummer was soooo good for us.

  3. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone could be stupid enough to believe that China is paying a tax on US consumers. Economic illiteracy is rampant.

    1. End all regulations then since they are also a tax on consumers. At least be consistent.

      1. Do you think libertarians wouldn’t like that?

        Are you so hopelessly infatuated with Trump that you support everything he does — never mind, dumb rhetorical question. Let me rephrase that.

        Are you so inept at logic that you think bashing one regulation is immoral without simultaneously bashing every other regulation? Do you think good is the enemy of perfection? Do you refuse to do anything if you can’t do everything?

        1. Do you think libertarians wouldn’t like that?

          Jesse truly is Red Tony.

    2. China (and now Mexico) will pay some percentage of the taxes. If prices were endlessly elastic and could absorb a 25% tax on wholesale prices then prices would have been going up long since.

      But what I find amusing is Boehm writes one article about how devastating Trumps tariff taxes are, and another bemoaning that Rand Paul’s budget balancing plan is going nowhere. I get that spending is where the lions share of deficit reduction needs to come from, but right now Trump is the only one taking any action to reduce the deficit, even unintentionally.

      1. but right now Trump is the only one taking any action to reduce the deficit, even unintentionally

        One could praise the Clinton presidency in exactly the same terms.

        1. One could, while one would also have to praise Newt for forcing it on him

      2. Right. Here we are, on a nominally libertarian site, and the degree of ignorance of basic economics is conspicuous.

        Not to mention that the point of these particular tariffs wasn’t to be paid, it was as a threat that would prompt a change of policy by Mexico, and then they wouldn’t actually get levied.

        Well, Congress sure took the sting out of THAT threat yesterday. I think at this point we have to admit that both parties are adamant about keeping the illegal border traffic going strong. It’s just that the Republicans lie about it at election time.

  4. Trumpistas like John and lc1789 can’t even do simple arithmetic.

    GDP is $20T or so. Trumpistas like to brag about the 3-4% GDP growth beating anything Obama got. 1% of the GDP is $200B.

    Get that. you illiterate anumeric econ-ignorant Trumpistas? Trump’s $200B in tax raises cut 1% off GDP growth. That’s $200B that was wasted by government instead of being spent and increasing the GDP.

    25% tax on Mexican goods? Mexican imports are somewhere around $700B, I think; 1/4 of that is $175B, another 1% gone from teh GDP growth you like to brag about.

    1. I don’t think you have even a, vague understanding of this subject and it shows in that post right there.

      1. Authentic Frontier Gibberish

      2. Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf wrote something that you cannot comprehend, so it is Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf that must be utterly stupid. Got it!

        Here is a song that you might want to listen to… It might help you!

        The Avalanches – ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’

      3. Tulpa says nothing and thinks it’s a profound rebuttal. Try to rebuke the message next time.

    2. Wow… you’re a pro tax idiot too.

      1. If you support tariffs, you certainly are pro-tax. I am not.

    3. When Mexico stops importing/exporting Guatamalans and Hondurans the tariffs go away. Easy Peasy.

      1. Econ 101 is simpler and has better logic. You should try it some time. Henry Hazlitt’s Economics on One Lesson is a good start, but it does require reading and paying attention and learning.

      2. When Mexico stops importing/exporting Guatamalans and Hondurans the tariffs go away?

        NO! Trump will then find MORE clauses written in invisible ink, after Mexico spends MORE months… Years!?!… Trade-negotiating with Trump! Then Trump will find some OTHER non-trade issue(s), with which to torpedo free trade! Because he is PROTECTIONIST, plain and simple!

        1. Bitch, whatchu babblin’ ‘bout?

        2. This is a far more complex issue than just discussing the tariffs. Mexico is literally allowing thousands of immigrants to walk over 2000 miles across their country without stopping or even hindering them. Mexico shares the bulk of the responsibility for the massive crisis at the border and can absolutely do a great deal to stop this from happening.
          Lets not kid ourselves here. The vast majority, over 90%, are NOT asylum seekers. They are economic migrants
          Mexico can return these people back to their own country anywhere along this 2000 mile journey.
          Let’s also face the fact that Trump has tried to reach out to the Dems over the building of a border wall. Many of these Dems who scream about walls being immoral previously supported and made speeches supporting a border wall before Trump used it as an election promise. Many of the same Dems who are now claiming that ‘walls don’t work’ actually live in big houses surrounded by high walls. There can be no greater hypocrisy than this. Dems are playing political games over something which should a non-partisan issue.
          I doubt anyone can name any other options Trump has available to him to keep his election promise.
          As for asylum seekers, if they present themselves at a legitimate point of entry, they will not be turned away.
          Seeking across the border and then attempting to claim asylum only when you get caught is disgusting. Renting or kidnapping children to bring with you in order to stand a better chance of not being deported is a serious crime on top of the crime of crossing illegally. Lets not kid ourselves here. There are wide spread examples of this happening and the frequency is increasing. We also have the increasing frequency of the same immigrants being caught several times after they have already been deported. This has to stop, and it seems that only Trump is willing to act on his promises to stop it against massive resistance from the Dems and the RINOs

          1. You forgot the useful idiots of reflexive, or crypto, progressives – such as Reason

    4. We just call it Alphabet troll.

      I didnt even look at this comment section until the next day, yet this troll’s script assumes that I was here June 4 commenting.

  5. —“Even if Trump’s tariffs go away, the debilitating economic effects are likely to linger for years.”—

    Perhaps, but like their communist brethren, Trumpistas will lie about it for at least two generations, claiming that Trump saved capitalism from itself and that the tariffs actually worked.

    1. Switching socks again huh?

      1. Still can’t figure out how to insult the message instead of the messenger, I see.

        1. He’s just pointing out what a lying disingenuous weasel you are. And he is correct.

          1. He’d have had to cite some actual lie to do so. He didn’t. That makes both of you useless messenger insulters.

            1. Poor alphabet troll. Your mission is accomplished by getting more web traffic.

              1. “Poor alphabet troll. Your mission is accomplished by getting more web traffic.”

                Poor guy. He’s like a magnet for intellectually stunted faux-libertarians that are incapable of carrying on any type of meaningful dialectic. I’m just wondering when you’ll start calling him a pedophile.

                1. McJizz, only two people are called kiddie rapers. PB, for posting actual child porn links on Reason, and Chemjeff, for advocating accepting illegals irrespective of whether they are known to be kiddie rapers.

                  So don’t start that bullshit, m’kay?

  6. That meant that in addition to $20 million worth of crops, the ship was also carrying an estimated $6 million in new taxes.

    And you’re bitching about the fact that – thanks to Our Lord and Savior Donald J Trump – the soybeans that arrived in China were miraculously worth 30% more than the soybeans that left the US? What the fuck is your problem that you don’t understand that things that are worth more are worth more than things that are worth less than the things that are worth more? You slap a 100% tariff on a $20 pair of sneakers and suddenly those $20 sneakers are worth $40. This is a terrific boon, not something to be criticized, you assholes! I, for one, have built a little shrine to Our Most Holy Orange God to which I pray every day that He raises tariffs 10,000-fold and then I’ll have a pair of pants that will be worth as much as a 1977 Toyota Corolla.

  7. That’s $3.44 a crib.

    1. At $15/hr. that’s just under 14 min.

      Personally, after 3 kids and a half dozen cribs. 2 were worth more than $400 because they converted and were used for more than 5 yrs. (we’ve still got them in stored away). The others were <$120 once we realized what a hassle that trudging the kid(s) up and down stairs was. $50/crib is a deal but nothing you couldn't find elsewhere.

      1. There is not that much manual labor involved here, as they are not making the parts by hand or fully assembling a crib. The real issue is getting the machines set up and no one else is willing to do that in the face of Chinese willingness to sell at a loss until the competition gives up to ensure they are the sole manufacturer. I would suspect the prices would come right back down if other countries had any assurance that the tariffs would actually stay in place.

        1. China is an ongoing enemy of the world. Disentangling ourselves from them is not the worst thing we can do. As you say, there are plenty of other countries to lick up the slack.

          1. Disentangling ourselves from them is a national defense priority.

            Not widely appreciated is the fact that the economic benefits of free trade enlarging markets are subject to diminishing returns. The larger your own economy is, the less you gain from free trade with other nations. And the US economy is larger than the entire world economy was not so long ago.

            It’s perfectly possible for us to be both prosperous AND entirely self-sufficient. Is it totally desirable that we be economically independent from reliably friendly nations? Maybe not. But in regards to hostile nations? Absolutely!

    2. If that’s so immaterial, then go ahead and pay it for them.

      Kid selling newspapers at 20 cents wouldn’t give me the nickel back. Said it’s just a nickel. I said great, drop your price a nickel and give me a dime back.

      Someone else’s money doesn’t matter. You scream a hissy fit if they took an unexplained $3.44 out of your paycheck or added it to your power bill.

      1. Kid selling newspapers at 20 cents wouldn’t give me the nickel back

        Was President Carter on the cover of the paper? No one old enough for this to be their own anecdote should be as ignorant as you.

  8. The presidentReason cannot be trusted not to lie about the most basic reality of his trade policy.

    We learned that with the disgraceful article on the 40,000 lost jobs in the beer industry due to aluminum tariffs, that were actually jobs gained in the actual beer industry, and jobs lost in grocery stores due to Amazon and jobs lost in restaurants due to Minimum Wage laws.

    China actually does screw us, at every turn. I’m against tariffs in general, and trade wars in principle, but China has been waging economic war on us for decades, and it is time we joined the fight. You can learn more about the realities of trade with China from a single episode of Silicon Valley on ulra-proggy HBO than you can from Reason Magazine.

    1. I’m against trade wars in principle but because the MSM told me that China is the real bogeyman, let’s impose heavy economic burdens on Canada, Mexico, Europe, and also China.

    2. And the United States! Brilliant idea NT

      1. Shh. Sure, NT is “against tariffs” but economic nationalism trumps whatever principles he pretends to have.

        1. Go back to your kiddie porn you moronic sick bastard.

          1. Fuck off troll. Don’t you have more Democrats to murder?

            1. I do have my work cut out for me, as there are plenty of you traitors around. Although not all of them are child rape enthusiasts. You know, like the way you are.

        2. If being against IP theft, forced tech and IP transfer, massive industrial espionage on an unprecedented scale for 3 decades, enlisting, or forcing, tens of thousands of grad students and visiting professors to spy, and every other unfair to illegal practice imaginable – if being all that makes me an “economic nationalist”, then I guess I wonder why you think that is a bad thing? What kind of queef ISN’T an “economic nationalist” when dealing with a pirate nation?

          1. That sounds bad. I’ll still take free trade.

            1. Guess what Melvin, those things don’t equate to free trade.

              1. Might as well hit your head against a brick wall. Its a religious mantra.

    3. What is so hard to understand about basic arithmetic?

      When the government taxes imported goods, it raises the prices of all similar goods. That means that people who buy those goods now have less money to spend elsewhere, exactly equivalent to the tax paid. That money used to buy other goods which employed other people in the making, distribution, and selling of. Those companies now have less income from fewer sales, so some of those previously employed people are going to be unemployed.

      No, the extra money received by the domestic competitors does not make up the difference, because the tariffs are entirely gone from what consumers spend. It is not given to the competitors. It goes straight to government.

      You tariff whores are so damned dumb.

      1. You tariff whores are so damned dumb.

        Dude, please go read a book and stop inflicting your simplistic nonsense upon the readers here. Global economics forms such complex models that (like the weather), it is impossible to predict other than on a macro-scale. Thousands of people much smarter than you have devoted their entire lives to the study and come to that exact conclusion.

        We get it. You took a class. They discussed some stuff. You may have even gotten an ‘A’. That doesn’t mean your observation is not drivel. It is. You have no idea how much you don’t know.

        I recommend Chaos by James Gleik. If it doesn’t make you feel stupid, read it again until it does, you are not getting it yet.

      2. Applying tariffs means the imported goods cost more for the consumer, however this also makes domestic goods more competitive.
        Also, applying tariffs may not even mean the price of these good increases significantly. The manufacture in China/Mexico may actually decide to absorb some of the rise in price by squeezing profit margins to ensure the consumers do not switch brands.
        Another thing to consider is that there may be plenty of competition from other exporter countries and the consumer may get the same goods from another country without seeing any significant rise in price. China is not the only producer of cheap manufactured goods.
        It is not as simple as stating that consumers will have to pay more. There are many other factors to absorb before reaching that conclusion.

    4. The one aspect of this issue that no one talks about is the status of the US Dollar as the Global Reserve Currency. The only difference between America & Greece is that we own the Printing Press. Our FIAT Dollars are backed by NOTHING, and only have value because the world uses them & if another currency replaces it, we are in Deep Doo-Doo! Qaddafi wanted to create a Pan-African currency backed by gold & the USA would have none of that! So, HildaBeast lied about there being a humanitarian crisis in Libya, & Qaddafi was murdered & a stable nation has been destroyed. A great War Crime was committed!
      Yes, China continually violates WTO rules & other illegal crap, but America are no angels either on the world stage. But, China takes US Dollars for the cheap crap they sell us & China also buys our T-Bills that help fund our huge Welfare & Warfare states & all that helps the US Dollar continue to be the world’s Reserve Currency, so maybe Trump should’ve just left things alone. It is the same paradigm with Saudi Arabia. We have looked the other way concerning the evil they do because they take US Dollars for their oil!
      When the Trade War started China charged us average tariffs of 10%, and we charged them 4%…A small price to pay to keep the USD as the world’s reserve currency!
      And make no mistake, China, Russia & others tired of the USA’s bullying would love to get rid of the USD & take us down!

      1. “And make no mistake, China, Russia & others tired of the USA’s bullying would love to get rid of the USD & take us down!”

        How they gonna do that?
        Does imposing tariffs, and seeking more favorable trade terms, as the greatest market in the world (and its reserve currency) change that fact?

  9. Even if Trump’s tariffs go away, the debilitating economic effects are likely to linger for years.

    As long as they linger in China longer than they linger in the US, then Win!

    Unless, of course, you can’t win a trade war. In which case, you can’t lose one either.

    1. Everyone loses in a trade war. It’s quite easy for every one to lose. It happens in daily life all the time. It should not be hard to find examples. A fender bender. A bar fight. Go on, try it yourself.

  10. “And who is going to invest in a factory” to make cribs or car seats or anything else, Bannon wonders, when “next week he could drop the tariffs and everyone is going to be able to run back to China?”

    You want to talk about privilege? This is privilege! A lady whose salary is paid by a business given a special exemption from taxes is whining that her ability to serve American children is being compromised by not being able to take advantage of cheap labor that all her Progressive friends swear up and down exploits Chinese children.

    A non-profit non-competitive teat sucking liberal. She doesn’t make cribs. She has the gall to tell us that she doesn’t want to make cribs, because there is actual risk in being a manufacturer. Risk that might affect her somehow not-profit salary, which clearly provides enough for her to go jetting to DC to lobby. This is the effect of entitlement. You give a lefty an inch, and they take the whole God damned mile and bitch at you about oppressing them while they do it.

    Capitalism involves risks, honey. That is what Marx got wrong.

    I don’t want to support tariffs, but if they make more not-for-profit lefties and subsidy collecting farmers butt-hurt, they can’t be a bad thing, can they? Call me when you have an honest business to profile.

    1. “Tariffs are bad, except when they make lefties cry, in which case I’m totally pro-tariff”

      1. Yes, you summarized my post most eloquently. You entirely ignored the substantive part and made it all about you.

        Welcome, folks, to: An Introduction to Argument for Proggies 115.

        1. “I don’t want to support tariffs, but if they make more not-for-profit lefties and subsidy collecting farmers butt-hurt, they can’t be a bad thing, can they?”

          1. Dude, I am starting to feel like an adult pushing down an autistic kid who keeps getting up and charging at me over and over. It is heartbreaking, but what else can you do? The little guy might hurt himself.

            I actually meant it when I said you summarized my post most eloquently – by behaving exactly like a typical Proggie. I pointed out the hypocrisy of rent-seeking behavior going unidentified in a Reason article and you focused on my irrelevant snark. Would you like to double down by proposing a thought experiment that is an actual historical event of which you are completely unaware?

            Or just wave your hands and shout “LOOK AT ME!” some more?

            I should change my prior post. This isn’t a college level class. More like a kid’s book – Prog & Jeff Go to the Economic Forum (worst kid’s book ever).

            1. “Daddy, why are Prog & Jeff so mean to the people who are trying to teach them about how stuff works in the real world?”

              “Sometimes people are just dicks, Sweetie.”

            2. And by “typical proggie”, what you meant is, “how dare that mean meanie Jeff point out that I am supporting using the coercive power of the state against a nonprofit who is giving out free cribs for babies of poor mothers because I care more about drinking the tears of my enemies than whether the tariffs actually are harming real people or not”.

              I mean, if this nonprofit lady can’t hand out cribs anymore, and more babies die from SIDS as a result, then who really gives a shit anyway? It’s not like these are *real people* or anything. They are just cartoon pixels on a computer screen.

              1. Is that what you tell the feds when they seize your computer?

              2. And by “typical proggie”, what you meant is, “how dare that mean meanie Jeff point out that I am supporting using the coercive power of the state against a nonprofit who is giving out free cribs for babies of poor mothers

                Dude, this has got to be self-parody. Otherwise your head should have imploded by now from the sheer mass of your ignorance.

                Coercive power of the state? This is a phrase straight out of the commie/proggie playbook, but, it also sounds libertarian-ish. More significantly, you are using it inside a tu quoque fallacy while at the same time it has no relation to anything I actually said. Excellent proggie form, you earn admittance.

                Free cribs for poor mothers? “FER THE KIDZ” is the obvious play, exactly the bet I would expect a Proggie to lay. …more babies die from SIDS as a result.. You go there twice, very nice. But wait, FTA,: re-sold, at cost, more than 100,000 cribs last year for about $50 each. Not satisfied with the daily-double, you went for the trifecta by completely misrepresenting the non-profit. WE HAVE A WINNER!

                A Proggie’s gotta prog.

      2. Tariffs are bad between otherwise mostly free market economies.

        Between a government teat sucking crony capitalist social welfare state and a centrally planned authoritarian slave labor state, tariffs are probably a good thing, for all concerned.

        And in the current context, we are talking about the latter, not the former.

    2. Capitalism also involves specialization and trade. Must have missed that class, huh.

      1. Please, educate me. I missed the part of the article where Bannon wasn’t acting like a petulant child. She states her unwillingness to act if there is risk, which she wants the government to mitigate through exemptions. The risk is what is relevant to the conversation, and it is the part of capitalism that proggies love to ignore.

        1. Fair enough. I don’t agree with lobbying for government power to reduce risk either. However, you can’t blame her for buying cheap products from a place that specializes in manufacturing because that is the basis of capitalism. Also, sorry about my comment above.

          1. you can’t blame her for buying cheap products from a place that specializes in manufacturing because that is the basis of capitalism

            I never would. Sure, I lambasted the Proggies, mostly because of the circle-jerk upthread, but I really did come here to make the point that everyone is trying to take advantage of the tariffs. That is fine with me as long as everyone is honest about it.

            I didn’t research Bannon, if she takes no salary from Cribs for Kids, then she doesn’t deserve my scorn, but if she does, then good journalism should demand that she divulge what she stands to lose if her non-profit is shuttered. That way we know what she stands to gain by asking for additional special favors from the government. The same goes for farmers, businesses or industries that take subsidies.

            1. Bannon founded Cribs For Kids, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that provides small cribs to low-income parents who otherwise might not be able to afford one

              What a ridiculous premise; nobody in the US is too poor to afford a basic crib. And even if they were, they could safely substitute baskets and other items for cribs for less money than a Happy Meal.

              Using this as an argument against tariffs is laughable.

              1. nobody in the US is too poor to afford a basic crib.

                Uh huh, sure. And those welfare moms are actually driving Cadillacs too.

                It is always disappointing to see people who have such a limited personal experience, and have such limited imagination, that they cannot even conceive of people who are substantially worse off than themselves.

                1. they cannot even conceive of people who are substantially worse off than themselves

                  Anecdotal, but….

                  I have given away 2 up-to-code cribs in the last 15 years to parents that were strapped for cash. My wife was happy to get them out of the garage. If they pass those cribs on, that is 4, etc.

                  This is a problem that can be solved without the rent seekers.

                2. I just spent 2 minutes on Craigslist and found lots of cribs for $50 or less.

                3. It is always disappointing to see people who have such a limited personal experience, and have such limited imagination, that they cannot even conceive of people who are substantially worse off than themselves.

                  You know nothing about my “personal experience”.

                  And apparently, you also know nothing about the US welfare system, which guarantees financial support for single mothers that is middle class by the standards of many well-off countries.

                  1. You’re right, I know nothing about your personal experience. But I have a few educated guesses in mind.

                    And apparently, you also know nothing about the US welfare system, which guarantees financial support for single mothers that is middle class by the standards of many well-off countries.

                    That might mean something, if the recipients of US welfare that we are discussing here were living in these other countries. But they tend to live in this country, where living on welfare isn’t exactly a life of luxury.

                    Here is a discussion on the topic:


                    Basically, the only real way to “make it” while on welfare is to be a criminal. Steal, sell drugs, work off the books, etc.

                    1. Do you think poor folk never heard of Craigslist, or that they don’t have internet access? Or is your concern more with the nonprofit than the people that need the cribs?

                    2. That might mean something, if the recipients of US welfare that we are discussing here were living in these other countries.

                      My statement was in terms of $PPP, which factors in those differences.

                      Here is a discussion on the topic:

                      I suggest you read it and understand it; it contradicts your statement.

                      Then you might find something that is actually relevant to my point.

            2. Yes we know. The real villain here is the lady handing out free cribs. Not the guy imposing taxes on the cribs for the sake of an international dick-measuring contest.

              1. Pedo Jeffy, you do always manage to frame things in such an idiotic manner.

              2. Poor pedo Jefe.

              3. Yes we know. The real villain here is the lady handing out free cribs. selling cribs for $50 a pop while pretending to be a big humanitarian.


                Not the guy imposing taxes on the cribs for the sake of an international dick-measuring contest. trying to bring back productive jobs for blue collar workers and get people off welfare.


    3. Another self-righteous dude insulting the messenger instead of the message.

      1. Yes. Yes you are.

        It is so refreshing when you announce your intentions like this.

    4. +1,000

  11. So, who will be next up to declare to us all how much they are “opposed to tariffs” yet, in this one special case, they will “make an exception” and begrudgingly support Trump’s tariffs?

    Seems as though tribal loyalty is stronger than opposition to tariffs.

    1. So, who will be next up to declare to us all how much they are “opposed to tariffs” yet, in this one special case, they will “make an exception” and begrudgingly support Trump’s tariffs?

      I will be opposed to tariffs once the US has eliminated its social welfare system and national debt. As long as we have either, I have no problem with tariffs whose effect is to reduce either of those destructive, illiberal policies.

      1. +100

        Managed trade is managed trade.

        Unless someone is arguing for free trade, tariffs are not necessarily any worse than the USA having a massive welfare state that bogs down American business’ bottom lines.

  12. It’s so bad out there! Have you seen the soup lines? And those poor guys selling apples for a nickel can’t even make a sale.

    1. In 1929, there were highly overvalued Stocks prices & full blown Trade War….History does have a dastardly way of repeating itself!

  13. Trump and his tariffs are stupid.

    So is saying they’ve had “debilitating economic effects”.

    1. But if I was debilitated my argument would be much more convincing!

    2. His tariffs have cut GDP growth by a quarter or half. Is that debilitating enough?

      1. Those numbers come from people like Paul “an alien invasion could fix the economy” Krugman; if you believe that, you are an economic imbecile.

      2. 1Q19 GDP growth was 3.1%. The idea that it would have been 6.2% without the tariffs is beyond just stupid to fucking insane.

  14. The hyperbole is strong in this hit piece.

    1. Point it out. Rebut it. Don’t just assert.

      1. No no, you seem to have missed the 21st Century Guide to Online Argumentation

        Step 1: Present yourself as sincerely as you can as a loyal member of the tribe. Use all the correct phrases, repeat all the correct narratives, castigate all the correct villains and support all of the correct heroes, regardless of any alleged villainous or heroic behavior. And – virtue signal, virtue signal, virtue signal!

        Step 2: Once you are fully a member of the tribe, you are free to make any claim you want without evidence. Claims made by people in the tribe carry far more weight than claims made by people outside of the tribe. And if anyone gives you any grief on pesky details like having to provide evidence for claims, just accuse the accuser of apostasy and insufficient loyalty to the tribe.

        1. +100

          Now, just read some history, Jeff! Just because you know how to play Jeopardy doesn’t mean you won’t humiliate yourself if you ask Alex the wrong questions.

          1. What, you expect me to subjugate myself to this tribal nonsense and participate in these truth-free fact-free reason-free discussions, like where you find on places like Breitbart and Salon, where the only real discussions are about how awful the other tribe is?

            Is that what you expect me to do?

            1. No, shithead. How about you pick up a book. Start with Aristotle or Plato. Make sure you read Hobbes, Smith, and Locke and please read something by John Stuart Mills. Try a biography of Jefferson and Adams. Then read a real history of the French and Russian revolutions and for God’s sake, read about the history of the Soviet Union and China.

              A real LIBERAL education starts with a foundation in logic and a good understanding of history. You want to opine on social engineering issues when you clearly don’t understand the failures of the past let alone the reasons they failed. Socialism led to the death of 200 million citizens at the hands of their own government in the last century. This is not ancient history. The Chinese, Norks, Iranians, etc., are still implementing the same policies today with the same effects. Anyone who advocates for socialism is under-educated.

        2. Present yourself as sincerely as you can as a loyal member of the tribe.

          You mean like “chemjeff radical individualist”, who is neither radical nor an individualist, but simply a run-of-the-mill authoritarian leftist?

          1. And this is where we get to the “accuse the accuser of apostasy” section of the guide.

            1. Anybody can accuse anybody of anything. The question is whether it’s true.

              And it is evident from your numerous postings that you are “neither radical nor an individualist, but simply a run-of-the-mill authoritarian leftist”.

              In fact, that’s typical for leftists: they fancy themselves champions of liberty, individualism, and radicalism, but they just worship bureaucracy and the state.

              Present yourself as sincerely as you can as a loyal member of the tribe

              I’m not a loyal member of any tribe, and certainly not a member of the tribe of Cato-style “libertarians”.

  15. Taxes are bad for the economy. Unless they were implemented by my favorite president via executive fiat, of course. Then they are good. The fact that the economy isn’t in total ruins is proof that these taxes aren’t bad.

    1. What’s bad for the economy is government spending. Once the government has spent the money, the cat is out of the bag; someone who didn’t derive benefits from it will be forced to pay for it.

      And, no, the economy isn’t good at all once you account properly for government spending and monetary policy. What is good is nominal GDP values and nominal stock market returns, the kind of stuff elites care about, but not the kind of stuff that actually improves lives.

  16. Lots of you seem a little confused.

    Let me try to help. Just because someone has an (R) after his name doesn’t mean he’s a libertarian spendthrift. In fact, it’s a good indication that he’s hell-bent on causing massive debts and a recession on top.

    You’re welcome.

    1. Brain fart: I meat skinflint, not spendthrift.

  17. Don’t worry boys, we’ll be in Berlin by Christmas!

  18. I don’t like tariffs (even under GOP president) and a prolonged trade war with allies like Canada and Japan would have been bad news. Trump lifted tariff on Canadian steel and hopefully some sort of a new NAFTA can emerge.

    But I feel less charitable on giving rogue states like China benefit of the doubt. As recently as 2017 I would have unequivocally supported free trade with that juggernaut. But they ramped up persecution of Christians and Muslims and implemented creepy social credit ratings (assist from American tech, no doubt).

    We can’t stop doing business with tyrants. That doesn’t mean we can’t slap certain standards on them. China does to Korea what Trump does to them, and they bully smaller nations over territorial claims. The online and secondary market have grown exponentially since the 90’s, and someone in America will try to make profit over tariffs by beating it. I googled cribs and I could buy one under 70 bucks.

    They need us more than we need them. Trump will probably accept some minor concessions to end most of the tariffs, he need agricultural support in the election.

    1. We can’t stop doing business with tyrants. That doesn’t mean we can’t slap certain standards on them.

      Let individuals decide for themselves what standards, if any, they wish to impose on the institutions that produce their goods.

      In this light, the argument against tariffs is the same as the argument against sanctions – why should it be the government’s job to substitute its moral judgment for that of its citizens? If people want to buy cheap crap from China, why should government purposefully make it more difficult for them because the government is acting as a moral scold?

      1. It’s interesting how you think that the government’s actions are not also the moral judgments of its citizens. How do you think that government was formed in the first place? Was Hilldog going to create tariffs?

        I’m curious what you think should happen if the people democratically and overtly vote for an authoritarian government of some kind.

    2. “They need us more than we need them.”….Except because the Prog-Tard Greenies made the US close several rare metal mines in the desert in California over the last decade or so, China has global dominance of these rare metals that are needed for cell phones, computers , cars, etc…I hate to say it, but China holds a key Trump card over us!

    3. Yeah because a libertarian free market economy means slapping sanctions, tariffs, and trade war because of moral political feelings.

      Always focus on the individual. Start there.

    4. I agree for the most part, XM.

      China needs America more than the other way around and China is generally a bad actor on the international trading/economic scene.

      As for Canada, the two countries are so intricately connected it makes these trade wars baffling. Canada is essentially a branch plant economy or a satellite of the USA so, I suppose it can be argued, America hurts itself on some level whenever it engages in trade wars with Canada. I could be wrong.

    5. +100

  19. Libertarians for tariffs by presidential decree.

    You in the wrong neighborhood.

    1. It’s like watching the progression of any cult over time. Watching it’s members bend over backwards doing/saying absolutely silly things, perform mental gymnastics, go against previous principles all to keep the cult leader happy.

      Unfortunately despite how silly it sounds, it seems like something humans just like to do, as it keeps happening.

    2. LINOs for managed trade but Trump’s managed trade is BAD.

  20. Do you guys all sleep with night lights?

    1. The trolls around here just take naps at their reason staff work desks.

  21. “OMG, they have to pay tariffs on Chinese goods!”

    While not a peep about the ocean of taxes paid on *domestic* production.

    If we followed Adam Smith’s logic, tariffs would be a lot higher than they are today.

    Adam Smith on tariffs to offset local taxes on production:
    “It will generally be advantageous to lay some burden upon foreign industry for the encouragement of domestic industry, when some tax is imposed at home upon the produce of the latter. In this case, it seems reasonable that an equal tax should be imposed upon the like produce of the former. This would not give the monopoly of the borne market to domestic industry, nor turn towards a particular employment a greater share of the stock and labour of the country, than what would naturally go to it. It would only hinder any part of what would naturally go to it from being turned away by the tax into a less natural direction, and would leave the competition between foreign and domestic industry, after the tax, as nearly as possible upon the same footing as before it.”

    1. Ya still do not understand that which you quoteth.

      Smith is warning against artificial distrortion in the market.

      “To judge whether such retaliations are likely to produce such an effect, does not, perhaps, belong so much to the science of a legislator, whose deliberations ought to be governed by general principles which are always the same, as to the skill of that insidious and crafty animal, vulgarly called a statesman or politician, whose councils are directed by the momentary fluctuations of affairs.“

  22. I am sure that Boehm will cover all the things that Americans lost during decades of managed trade policy and massive trade restrictions by our trading partners.

  23. “It’s crazy that anyone could think China is paying for the tariffs, Bannon says”

    Only if you’re a partisan hack that intentionally stops at the tip of the iceberg. Do you really not understand how an increased price harms Chinese exporters? Or how the government must make concessions (read: THEIR OWN DAMN RESOURCES) to compensate for the damage to their domestic producers and to convince us to end or reduce the tariffs? Or how total surplus is transferred from Chinese producers and consumers to American producers and consumers?

    Of course the Chinese (and Mexicans) aren’t literally writing us a check at the port. That would certainly be one way to pay for a tariff, but it isn’t the only way. I’m getting really sick of Reason’s sophistry on this issue.

  24. These are the same tired, tactical arguments used over and over again by Mr. Boehm, Ms. de Rugy, and the boys over at Cafe Hayek. They are tactical arguments because they are all based on a single period, non-repeating game model of trade. And in that context they are right. But in a mutliperiod, repeating game where gains or positions carry over from period to period (i.e., more like the real world), they are profoundly wrong. In a multi-period repeating game with tariffs, free trade need not emerge as an equilibrium and the space in which it is an equilibrium solution may be comparatively small. Moreover, they ignore the obvious nod to Clausewitz that trade may be statecraft by other means. A country which protects its own nascent industries, while exploiting free trade elsewhere can emerge years later as a dominant player in such industries. If they also control raw materials for those industries, their position may become strategically dominant. Coupled with a willingness to go to war, such a country would be a genuine threat to the countries around them and perhaps the globe. This is not far-fetched; it is the strategy top Chinese leaders announced they were pursuing more than 15 years ago. They understand free trade but are choosing to selectively protect key industries. They’re not stupid. We would do well to take their perspective seriously.

  25. I don’t understand why so many people (including many politicians) are so worked about about China’s stated goal to achieve technological parity – or even superiority, with the USA. Companies of all types, not just tech companies, constantly try to stay ahead of the competition through innovation (at least in part). It’s natural for people to want to improve their lot in life – and it seems natural that China wants the best for its people (and for those in power). China’s habit of stealing technology and violating WTO rules are serious issues, but even if they stopped all that bad behavior, it’s clear that China will still keep working hard on those technology, infrastructure, and living standard goals.

    1. it seems natural that China wants the best for its people



      But, seriously…

  26. Why does this article rely on the fallacy that trade markets aren’t fluid? China is not the only place in the world to import cribs from. That’s the point of the tariffs – renegotiate or watch some percentage of US imports shift to a more competitive supplier, ie. any one not subject to these tariffs. And when the tariffs made US soybeans less attractive to China, they became more attractive to Brazil (and I’d guess countless other importers.) The weak “debilitating” argument is undercut by your own examples.

  27. “It’s crazy that anyone could think China is paying for the tariffs, Bannon says.”

    That’s pretty much the least of the crazy things Trump supporters believe. And they’ll believe just about any crazy thing they’re told to believe.

  28. […] New tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico are supposed to start on Monday—but even if they don’t end up happening, some damage has already been done. […]

  29. […] New tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico are supposed to start on Monday—but even if they don’t end up happening, some damage has already been done. […]

  30. […] New tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico are supposed to start on Monday—but even if they don’t end up happening, some damage has already been done. […]

  31. […] tax cuts. Even in cases where the tariffs have either not gone into effect or been eliminated, the lingering uncertainty stemming from the president’s erratic behavior has rattled bond markets and left the economy […]

  32. […] tax cuts. Even in cases where the tariffs have either not gone into effect or been eliminated, the lingering uncertainty stemming from the president’s erratic behavior has rattled bond markets and left the economy […]

  33. […] If you want to see a rowdy bunch of weirdos challenge a big bad guy who has misguided ideas about how to create prosperity—well, I think Avengers: Endgame is still playing at some […]

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