Free Trade

Trade Wars Have No Winners

As the U.S.-China trade war escalates again, farmers and small businesses are getting hurt the most, but global manufacturing is taking a hit too.


From the shop floors of Wisconsin to the factories of Asia, no one is winning President Donald Trump's trade war.

The trade war escalated again over the weekend, with a new round of 15 percent tariffs targeting Chinese goods imported into America. Trump has now imposed tariffs on nearly all imports from China—the remaining tariff-free imports will be subject to tariffs on December 15, after the holiday shipping rush, the administration says. Combined with other tariffs on steel, aluminum, and washing machines, the Trump trade war has raised taxes by more than $32 billion on Americans.

More than year into the trade war, it's become apparent that there are other costs too. Some are the direct result of the tariffs themselves, like the fact that business investment is slowing. That is, American companies are reallocating resources to blunt the effects of the tariffs or to reconfigure global supply chains, rather than expanding or hiring. They are trying to avoid losses, instead of looking to grow.

"It's busy. The economy is booming, but there is great uncertainty. A lot of it has to do with trade policy," Torben Christensen, president of Wiscon Products, Inc., told The Wall Street Journal. The 75-year-old company that makes precision machine parts recently lost a $2 billion order that would have been exported to China because of trade tensions. The company is putting more resources towards marketing in an attempt to replace lost revenue, but that means putting off buying new equipment, as the Journal reported.

A Journal-sponsored survey of more than 600 small business owners shows growing worries about the trade war and its effects on the economy. Economic confidence has fallen to its lowest levels since 2012, and 40 percent of respondents say they expect the economy to worsen in the next year—up from just 29 percent who felt that way in July.

Meanwhile, the trade war is also being blamed for a general slow-down in manufacturing across much of the world. Global manufacturing output and trade flow dropped across Europe, South Korea, and Japan during the first six months of the year. A report on American manufacturing released Tuesday by the Institute for Supply Management, a logistics industry association, showed that American factories have contracted in the past month—for the first time since 2016.

"Trade remains the most significant issue, indicated by the strong contraction in new export orders," said Timothy R. Fiore, chairman of the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing business survey committee, in a statement. "Respondents continued to note supply chain adjustments as a result of moving manufacturing from China. Overall, sentiment this month declined and reached its lowest level in 2019."

By some measures, U.S. manufacturing is already in a recession. Bloomberg has noted that American output has declined in two consecutive quarters, while "global factory activity has contracted for four straight months."

Indeed, there are no winners in the trade war. A prolonged slowdown in manufacturing could trigger layoffs and may raise the risk of a recession. Even if China ends up taking a bigger hit than America does, it's obvious now that there is plenty of pain to go around. And, for now, there is no indication that the U.S. and China are close to making a deal that could put an end to the tariffs and the uncertainty they have created.

Trump could end up as a loser too, since much of his trade policy has been built on the idea that he was going to revitalize U.S. manufacturing. Clearly, that's not happening.

NEXT: California's Political Leaders Strike Deal on Rent Control

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  1. How can you put up this article without a picture of WOPR?

    1. Whodathunk tic-tac-toe leads to wisdom

  2. “Indeed, there are no winners in the trade war.”

    From 1816 until after World War II the USA was the most tariff protected nation on earth. We won that trade war. The real wages of blue collar workers were higher in 1972 than they are today making the American middle class a definite free trade loser as wages have declined more than prices.

    1. If trade wars are good, every on of the 50 states in the USA should declare trade wars on every other state… And then county on county, city on city, and finally, SQRLSY One’s household should trade with NO ONE… Good jobs ONLY for residents of SQRLSY One’s household!!! No one else DESERVES to trade with me!!! I will do my own iron ore mining, smelting, tool manufacture, food growing, cloth weaving, home dentistry, you name it… It is actually a straight-line ticket to utter poverty!!!

      1. “If trade wars are good, every on of the 50 states in the USA should declare trade wars on every other state….”

        On that other hand, if completely tariff and restriction free trade is guaranteed to make any country more prosperous, why doesn’t at least one nation smarten and open its borders to universal free trade? That country would show the rest of the world how rich they got and how easy it was to do so.

        Why doesn’t somebody do this?

        1. Trade policy is controlled by politicians, and they face incentives to enact bad policies.

          Your question has been asked and answered thousands of times.

          1. If I understand you correctly, tariffs and trade restrictions are a consequence of having politicians and governments. Since governments and politicians are here to stay, free trade will not ever happen. So quit wasting your time on tsriffs and find something else to bitch about.

            1. It seems to me that either your misunderstanding is intentional, or you are not very bright.

              There is a subdiscipline of economics, public choice theory, that deals with the incentives faced by political actors. You don’t need public choice theory to explain this case, but it certainly does so adequately. Maybe you should learn a bit about it?

              I never said tariffs and trade restrictions are necessary consequences, only that there are political incentives for them. They often outweigh the political incentives against them. There are incentives to enact many bad policies, and there are incentives to engage in corruption and graft and patronage. That doesn’t make any of those things desirable, regardless of their degree of inevitability. Do you honestly not understand the error you’ve made here?

        2. Why doesn’t any country smarten up and and make all trade free? Really?

          Why doesn’t the US smarten up and eliminate the drug war? Why doesn’t China smarten up and eliminate censorship? Hell, why don’t the Democrats smarten up and start supporting all the policies you think are the right policies?

        3. Because governments are rent-seekers and prostitutes for rent-seekers and it doesn’t profit them to engage in free trade. Nevertheless, there’s the experience of Victorian Great Britain when their abandonment of mercantilist and protectionist policies and adoption of free trade policies oddly and almost certainly entirely unrelatedly coincided with Great Britain being the most prosperous nation on the face of the Earth.

          Currently, Hong Kong and Singapore are both considered the benchmark for free trade and both are known for being shithole countries that nobody wants to do business with so obviously the myth of free trade is just a myth.

        4. Good question. Perhaps no country is willing to be completely tariff and restriction free trade because it’s unlikely other trading partner countries would go as far. It also occurs to me that not all trade barriers are tariff based. There are other things like environmental rules, human rights rules, and product category protectionism (like for U.S. pickup trucks). I do think it’s worth noting that Singapore and Hong Kong both have considerably lower import tariffs than the USA – and they also have higher income per capita than the USA.

      2. Other than the pesky Constitution completely banning the ability of states to declare trade wars against each other.

        1. Yes! And that was one of the very smartest of the early-on declarations of said Constitution!

          Now the world-wide trade organizations need to have powers (or be listened to when they recommend free trade measures) and then the whole world can benefit the same way that the USA benefited internally! Same idea, just scale it up!

        2. Just claim a national security concern. In that rare instance the intent of the Constitution no longer applies, and Presidents can raise tariffs unilaterally.

          Maybe Congress can grant an exception to the Constitution (you know, without all the mess of amending it) and give Governors this superpower w.r.t interstate commerce in case of state security concerns.

          1. The Supreme court just granted the states to lay tariff/sales taxes to interstate commerce. Those were the “conservative” justices.

      3. The Constitution enforces no tariffs between US states. *Mutual* ceasefire in trade wars.

        Nothing forces other nations to do the same with us. And they refuse to.

        Unilateral ceasefire is surrender. Other countries continue shooting at us because, since the end of WWII, we have basically refused to shoot back.

        Until the God Emperor.

        Trump’s stated preference is no subsidies, no tariffs, no trade barriers. Strange how China, Japan, and the EU don’t take him up on that offer. Even rhetorically.

        It will be interesting to see what kind of deal Trump and Boris can pull off. Free trade within the Anglosphere makes a lot of sense. Common commercial laws, customs, and expectations, plus political values.

        Make the Anglosphere Great Again!

    2. Income tax replaced that. So when Trump gets the income tax repealed, I’ll listen to tarriff talk. Until then he’s just another tax and spend liberal.

    3. The United States has had the largest fee trade zone in the world for most of its history – internally. The main point of the commerce clause, originally was to stop the States from engaging in this stupidity.

      1. The main point of the commerce clause, originally was to stop the States from engaging in this stupidity.

        You know, if some pro-tariff people are anti-globalism or anti-One World, you’re validating their beliefs, right?

    4. You got reality all over The Narrative!

  3. All trade restrictions started Jan 20, 2017 according to hack writer Eric Boehm.

    1. The treaties of trade we had with other places were NOT examples of a free market as Boehm implies with that statement.

    2. Your link to where he said that must have fallen off.

      1. You know what else has fallen off lovecon89?

        1. Your Mom?

          She likes to ride a big cock!

      2. Boehm’s articles are full of it. Literally and figuratively.

        1. OK, now I’m confused. Did Boehm actually claim that we had free trade prior to Trump, or is that just a strawman argument by you?

          1. How is it “Trump’s trade war”, if there wasn’t free trade prior to Trump’s presidency?

            Was Trump waging “Trump’s trade war” from Trump Tower before then?

            1. He made it worse. All trade is really a sort of war. The company I work for wants to maximize profits it gets from billing for my services. I want to maximize my own profits for the least amount of effort.

              The competition would like to destroy us and steal our business and so on.

              1. Then stop using the word “war” to describe trade. Trade is never war.

                Trade is agreeable product and service transactions.

                War is war and war is deadly.

                1. When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win,” Donald Trump

          2. Boehm certainly acts like it. Hence the never ending litany of shrill hyperbolic TDS Trump articles whining about Trump’s brave fight to improve our trade deals.

    3. “President Donald Trump’s trade war”

      Also, according to Boehm, Trump initiated the trade war.

      It was a world of Free Trade, Open Borders, Butterflies and Sunshine until Orange Hitler ruined it all!

  4. Another fine gathering of Libertarians For Tariffs And Crony-Coddling Protectionism.

    Carry on, clingers.

    1. “Yet another elitist litmus test by ivory-tower purist libertarians.” – average Reason Trumpalo

      1. That all you got, bitch?

    2. #LibertariansForProfitingFromForeignSlavery

      The Crony Capitalists are those who would tax American labor but not Slaver Emperor Xi.

      Adam Smith is on Trump’s side, favoring 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.”

  5. We’re winning! If we just keep stabbing ourself in the eye then China will cave and we will be victorious!

    1. The USA already has two black eyes from trading with a thief like China.

      Either we play by the same rules or we don’t. We get it. You are fine with China playing by different rules as long as they market cheap junk.

      1. The USA already has two black eyes from trading with a thief like China.

        Prior to January 20, 2017 there were no benefits of trade.

        1. And don’t forget the answer to tariffs is more tariffs.

        2. Cui bono?

          What Globalists call free trade is a set of foreign trade, domestic tax, and immigration policies that benefits US corporate ownership over US labor.

          Why should domestic *labor* be taxed when purchased, but not foreign goods?

          1. +10000

  6. … recently lost a $2 billion order that would have been exported to China… That must be a typo. A $2 billion dollar order is rather big for a small company.

  7. “the Trump trade war has raised taxes by more than $32 billion on Americans.”

    Taxes are actions of theft!
    Corporations pushing costs forward are not!

    Yet @Reason continues to insist that tariffs are taxes
    What don’t they get ?
    Maybe basic logic ?

    1. Tariffs are at least taxes on importers. Is it your claim that a tax on imports is not theft?

      1. Yes, but on entities that buy overseas !

        But the article says they are taxes on Americans in general – trying to confuse costs pushed forward as actual taxation.

        1. “the Trump trade war has raised taxes by more than $32 billion on Americans.”

          But the article says they are taxes on Americans in general

          This just in. Importers in the US are often Americans.

      2. “Libertarians” rage against taxes on Slaver Xi, wealth taxes on the Koch’s billions, increased capital gains taxes, but are strangely muted in their criticism of payroll and income taxes.

        It’s almost as if they’re really just all about corporate profits.

    2. I pay taxes voluntarily for the Common Defense of the USA, roads, courts, etc.

      Taxes are NOT theft per se.

      1. What about the taxes you pay for welfare for immigrants? Are those voluntary too? How nice of you LC!

        1. The government is catching those criminals and throwing them out since they are stealing from us.

          At least you admit illegals are using welfare.

      2. You own because there is a government that enforces that ownership.

        The anarchists who want rights without the institutions that protect them are like the communists who want the goods without the institutions that produce them.

  8. As Trump said, these tariffs that are intended to get people to stop buying stuff from China and get companies to move out of China are having absolutely no effect on anybody. These companies that are complaining that they’re being negatively affected by the tariffs are lying, they’re just failing loser companies with bad management and they deserve to go out of business.

    Oddly, I remember Hillary saying that all companies should be required to provide health care for their employees and any companies complaining about not being able to afford it were failing loser companies with bad management who deserved to go out of business.

    I suspect that these “failing loser companies with bad management who deserve to go out of business” are going to react to Trump’s comments just about the same way they reacted to Hillary’s comments. “Fuck you, you evil heartless asshole. You’re going to kick us in the teeth and then mock us for complaining about being kicked in the teeth? Fuck you.”

    1. failing loser companies with bad management and they deserve to go out of business.

      And here I thought he was trying to protect USA steel.

  9. “Trade Wars Have No Winners”

    Trade wars have no winners–unless Emperor Xi capitulates to Trump’s demands to end forced technology transfers and agrees to an enforcement mechanism, at which point Trump will have won that if nothing else. If Trump capitulates and drops all of his demands, then Emperor Xi will have won.

    I don’t know what’s worse, willfully pretending is true when you know it isn’t or genuinely being so ignorant. Regardless, trade wars can be won.

    Saying that trade wars can’t be won is like saying that wars can’t be won. I guess you’re trying to be poetic, but it just makes you look delusional. Europe may be the lesser with every individual man that dies, but wars can be won despite that. We took physical control of Germany. We dropped a bomb on the bunker where Hitler was hiding. We won. We dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They surrendered and we won.

    It’s entirely possible that trade wars, like other wars, are sometimes more costly than whatever you gained was worth. Maybe our present trade war with China is like the Iraq War in that sense. Just because what you won wasn’t worth the cost doesn’t mean you didn’t win. We won the Iraq War. We may win the trade war. I sure hope we do.

    Whether it will be worth the price we paid to win is another question entirely, but that’s a real debate about that can only be had with people who are knowledgeable and honest.

    1. Careful, Ken, you got a little on your chin there.

      First of all, what the fuck are you talking about “forced technology transfers”? Nobody’s holding a gun to anybody’s head and telling them to fork over the IP, every goddamn company that goes over to China and agrees to meet China’s conditions for doing business in China does so willingly. You might think China is unfairly getting the better end of the deal, but it ain’t your goddamn place to be substituting your opinion for Apple’s, is it?

      And secondly, you know goddamn well that Trump’s primary concern with Chinese trade isn’t the strategic perspective of capitalists selling communists the rope with which they’ll be hung, it’s the simple economic illiteracy of “China’s ripping us off for hundreds of billions of dollars in trade because we give them tons of money and all we get in return is tons of products”. Trump is too goddamn stupid to accept the simple fact that in a voluntary trade both parties are getting the better end of the deal.

      Now if you want to express your opinion as to whether or not it’s wise to treat China as a friendly trading partner rather than as a hostile foreign military power, go right ahead, but don’t pretend that your opinions are facts or that Trump is wisely and cunningly engaging in some sort of strategic 8th dimensional wizard chess that the rest of us are too stupid to see.

      1. “First of all, what the fuck are you talking about “forced technology transfers”?”

        When you go to do business in China, they assign you a competitor to work with–you have to form a joint partnership with them and assume the position of the minority partner. At that point, they require you to transfer your intellectual property to the join venture. Only then are you permitted to sell your products in China. Got a new piece of machinery you want to sell in China? That’s great. Once you share the design with your Chinese competitor, you’ll be off and running.

        Here’s a primer:

        You need to expand your . . . um . . . news sources if you’ve been reading about and discussing the trade war with China and you are still genuinely ignorant about forced technology transfers. This has been the sticking point between Trump and Xi since the first time trade talks broke down. Not knowing about forced technology transfers and discussing the trade war with China is like discussing Reagan’s talks with Gorbachev and not knowing that the Russians had nuclear weapons. Forced technology transfers (and the enforcement mechanism) is the main reason Xi refuses to end the trade war, and they’re the main thing Trump is insisting on in order to drop his tariffs. They’re the sticking point.

        That you don’t know anything about them is telling.

        1. P.S. There is nothing anti-free trade about opposing forced technology transfers–quite the opposite.

          There is a legitimate debate to be had about whether a trade war is the best way to end the practice or whether what we’ll get is worth the cost. That debate can only be had honest and knowledgeable people. I mean, a smart knowledgeable person might oppose the trade war despite forced technology transfers–as I do.

          Going after other people for not being as ignorant as you obviously are doesn’t qualify for that. That’s okay. I’m sure your parents are proud of you. Just, you know, don’t expect the rest of the knowledgeable world to pretend you aren’t an ignoramus–if that’s what you are. There are lots of things I don’t know about. There’s nothing wrong with being ignorant as a general rule. But imagining that other people must not know what they’re talking about because of your own ignorance is an excellent example of ignorant projection, and who wants to be guilty of that?

        2. I don’t see the force though Ken. I see a company giving something of value to get something in value in return. We already have a name for that; trade. Tough titties to those companies that didn’t think this through. So unless these companies are going to share the wealth they got from those deals, I don’t see how it is my responsibility to share their pain.

          1. We’re talking about this in terms of a trade agreement.

            If the U.S. government required foreign manufacturers to share their intellectual property and trade secrets with their competitors in order to sell their products in the United States, I would be even more opposed to that than I am to to the Chinese doing it to American companies who want to sell their products in China. That being said, it’s a trade barrier–and I oppose it like any trade barrier.

            You could say the same thing about Trump imposing tariffs. He’s not forcing them to pay the tariffs–they can choose to not sell their products in the United States and then they don’t have to pay the tariff!

            I oppose tariffs. I see opposing them as counter productive. I think what we lose from the trade we had with China before Trump’s trade war is better than what we’re likely to get–even if Trump’s efforts to get rid of those forced technology transfers is worth.

            At the end of the day, however, those companies wouldn’t share their technologies with their Chinese competitors if the Chinese Communist Party didn’t require to them to do so. It’s all shady as hell. I mean, understand, that many of the companies that benefit from these technology transfers are majority owned and managed by formerly well connected current and former members of the CCP and the People’s Liberation Army. This is the CCP forcing foreign companies to share their technology and trade secrets with companies that make crony capitalism in the U.S. look like nothing at all.

            If you want to sell your goods in China, the government is running a racket that makes you share your proprietary technology with the government and give well connected government officials at least 51% of the profits. You may not think that being forced to form a join venture with Donald Trump’s friends and family and giving them 51% of the profits if you want to sell in the United States is technically “forced” if other companies can say “no”, but that’s still one hell of trade barrier.

            Trump isn’t wrong to go after the practice, but I think he’s overpaying for what killing the practice is worth. It’s an old question about how to transform from a communist society to a capitalist one. Transitioning from one to the other without going through a period of massive cronyism is probably unrealistic. When the government’s assets are privatized, they’re going to well connected individuals. Getting rid of that may require a more democratic society–or at least one where the people have enough say so that level of cronyism becomes untenable. I’m not sure Xi could keep himself in power if he betrayed that system, and while I hope that Trump is wildly successful in getting rid of forced technology transfers (or call it something else if you like), but I think what he’s giving up is probably worth more than what he’s likely to get–even if he’s successful and wins the trade the war on those terms.

            1. “I oppose tariffs. I see opposing [imposing] them as counter productive.”

              —-Ken Shultz


    2. Trade wars are like other wars, in as much as, once somebody else decides to wage one against you, you don’t have the option of not being in a trade war anymore. You just have the option of fighting back or losing.

      1. And if your opponents aren’t even going to compete or engage, why not? A sanctimonious view of property rights that 99+% of the world doesn’t believe in?

    3. If there are no winners, there can be no losers.

      There’s also a complete lack of consideration for that which is not seen, as should be hyper-apparent in this age of virtue signalling. We institute nation-wide municipal recycling programs at cost and get to hug ourselves for being more environmental. Now, unseen, the recycling gets shipped to China where it gets sorted by sub-wage immigrant workers and burned but, we’re winners because we recycle cheaply.

      1. “If there are no winners, there can be no losers.”

        I wonder if this will be any consolation to my ghost, and the ghosts of another 7.8 billion people, drifting over the desolate wasteland of post-nuclear-WW-III Planet Earth.

        “If there are no winners, there can be no losers.” Really?!?!

        1. Well, let’s be clear–you can win a war and you can win a trade war.

          Just because they’re destructive doesn’t mean no one wins or they can’t be won.

          Just because we’re opposed to this trade war doesn’t mean we have to pretend things are true when we know they aren’t true.

          I oppose this trade war.

          I opposed the Iraq War.

          I opposed the Iraq War in spite of the fact that we won.

          Because I oppose this trade war certainly doesn’t mean that I have to pretend–like a willful idiot–that trade wars can’t be won.

          1. Just because they’re destructive doesn’t mean no one wins or they can’t be won.

            Also, violent physical destruction of existing physical property is a bit of a different win/lose scenario than destruction of not-yet-realized abstractions of prosperity.

            An extra $100 for an iPhone isn’t the bombing of Dresden.

          2. We did not win the Iraq war. The US defeated Saddam’s army and toppled his government only to be caught in a series of insurgencies ending with ISIS which were eventually defeated largely by Iraqis. They are still a threat only smaller.

            Saying we won Iraq is like saying we won Vietnam because the US captured Hue from the VC in the tet offensive.

            You could say that we won gulf warI. In that case there was a clear goal to drive the Iraqis from Kuwait which was done mostly by US along with some allied forces.

            1. We defeated the Iraqi government on the battlefield. We took the leader of their government prisoner and handed him over to his enemies. We disbanded their military. We replaced their government with martial law and then we handed authority over to a new government that we created. The Baathist government is no more because we destroyed it with our military. We won the Iraq War.

              Having to deal with an insurgency after winning a war doesn’t mean we didn’t win the war.

              If what we won isn’t worth what we paid for it, that doesn’t mean we didn’t win the Iraq War either.

              I don’t suppose we’ll ever know what might have happened in Iraq if Saddam Hussein had been forced to weather the Arab Spring circa 2011, but I doubt it would have gone like Syria, exactly, because the only thing that saved Assad was the intervention of Russia and Iran. They wouldn’t have been able to do that in Iraq.

              1. We won battles, not the war. War is political. We made the mistake of disbanding the Iraqi army and government rather than taking it over. It just changed from a conventional to a guerrilla war which the US was unprepared to fight. A series of guerrilla wars actually.

                The US after toppling Saddam totally lost control of the country and was contained to defensive fortifications with sorties into the actual battleground. After some time enough of the native population was able to be trained and equipped to control and govern at least part of it.

                When ISIS arrived on the scene they were greeted mostly with joy by the local population many of whom joined the ranks. At one point they controlled half of the country. Their own excess, inability to govern and cruelty eventually did them in.

                Kurds having maintained their semi independence lost ground. What defeated ISIS was a coalition of Kurdish fighters, the Iraqi army newly minted, and to some extent Shiite militias. US provided some of the heavier stuff like AirPower and artillery but the locals did the fighting.

                The local factions finally decided they had enough of ISIS and pretty much did it themselves. Syria ISIS same story. I do not see that as winning anything. Just my view of what happened.

          3. But a trade war isn’t analogous to a real war in which, almost by definition, if one side loses the other wins. In a trade war, the only way to inflict damage on our “enemy” is to simultaneously inflict a comparable amount of damage on ourselves. King Donald’s tariffs, by themselves, are just as damaging to our economy (maybe more so) than China’s response, don’t you think?

            1. Yes, and I’ve said that I think the Trump’s trade war is more damaging than forced technology transfers are damaging–repeatedly in this very thread.

              In fact, I’ve opposed Trump’s trade war repeatedly since before he started implementing tariffs, and at no point during this trade war have I ever defended them. I’ve consistently opposed them before they were implemented, while they were implemented, and if China relents and get rid of forced technology transfers, I’ll still oppose them in retrospect–if the facts support doing so.

              I think the most I’ve ever said to support them is that I hope I’m wrong about them. I really do hope that I’m wrong, Trump is right, and America turns out to be better off because of Trump’s trade war. I suspect that’s the problem some people above are having. In their minds, it’s isn’t enough to oppose Trump’s trade war. You need to oppose Trump, and by opposing Trump, what they really want you to do is pretend that the facts are other than what they are. It’s not enough to oppose the trade war. You have to pretend that forced technology transfers aren’t a problem; indeed, you may need to pretend that you’re ignorant of them–that they don’t exist!

              It’s what I call, “Jane Fonda syndrome”. She started out with reasonable arguments against the Vietnam War, but over time, that wasn’t enough. In the end, she felt compelled to pretend that the facts are other than what they are–that American POWs were never tortured by the North Vietnamese. Her good intentions, if that’s what they were, don’t excuse being so ignorant on the facts or so willfully dishonest–no matter whether opposing the Vietnam War was the correct policy. If you can’t oppose the Vietnam War without lying about the facts of tortured POWs, then you’re hurting the argument against the Vietnam War, Hanoi Jane! If I were to oppose the Vietnam War, I’d find a way to do it–despite the fact that the North Vietnamese were torturing our POWs.

              It’s the same thing with a lot of people who oppose these tariffs. It doesn’t matter whether they’re ignorant or willfully dishonest–whether they’re ignorant or willfully dishonest, forced technology transfers are still a thing anyway, Trump launched his trade war largely because of them anyway, and China balked at the solution that Trump insisted on as a precondition of lowering the tariffs anyway. My opposition to these tariffs doesn’t rest on being willfully dishonest or ignorant about anything–certainly not the existence of something as well documented and central to these negotiations as forced technology transfers. Incidentally, my opposition to these tariffs is a hell of a lot bigger than opposition to Trump, too. If these tariffs remain in place and Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren take over, I’ll oppose them then, too.

              There are words for people who are so blinded by hatred of Trump that they become ignorant of or dishonest about the facts. Some people call them sufferers of “Trump derangement syndrome”, but you might as well call them religious fanatics. If you’re so passionate in your believe about things that aren’t true and ignore the facts, It’s more or less the same thing as religious fanaticism.

            2. In a trade war, the only way to inflict damage on our “enemy” is to simultaneously inflict a comparable amount of damage on ourselves.

              Disagreed on a number of fronts. Mainly, pump enough contraband into a command economy and siphon out enough currency such that their commanders can no longer control the economy and you’ve effectively won without inflicting comparable damage on yourself. I don’t mean to say it like “it’s just that easy” as much as illustrate that a WWII was won by “simply” killing Hitler.

              The suppositions are reversed for the two “there are no winners”, euphemisms or allegory. In battle, you “can’t win” because you kill lots of people as the aim and sacrifice lots of your own people in that achieving that aim. In trade, you don’t have to kill anyone and don’t necessarily have to sacrifice anyone.

              I don’t agree with the way Trump is waging the war, but it’s certainly more thinking or cognizant or action-oriented to the situation than the ‘get along to go along’ policies of the last several administrations.

        2. ‘Post-apocalyptic nuclear ghosts of the future’ would make a great band name.

    4. “Regardless, trade wars can be won.
      Saying that trade wars can’t be won is like saying that wars can’t be won.”

      Pacifism in a trade war is just as stupid as pacifism in a shooting war, but the globalists have turned trade war pacifism into a dogma of faith.

      Do they really believe it, or do they really just profit by it, at the expense of US labor?

      1. “Do they really believe it, or do they really just profit by it, at the expense of US labor?”

        I’m a market capitalist–not a socialist.

        The purpose of my existence, the existence of my rights, and the existence of the government is not to make sacrifices in my standard of living just to benefit your socialist ass.

  10. Geez, who knew international trade impacting billions of people could be so complicated? I’m sure some more common sense and gumption from complete economic illiterates will save the day.

    And if not, you can always blame black people. Or Jews, gays or maybe even the Irish, for a change.

  11. Shares of USSteel were trading at around $45/share when Trump announced his first round of tariffs to protect our vital industry for reasons of national security.

    It is at $10.64 currently and the company has idled two more blast furnaces. Overall steel imports are up.

    Thanks Donald! We knew you could do it. Now let’s destroy Apple and our tech industry!

    It is no surprise the Bernie Sanders likes tariffs as much as Trump does.

    1. Agreed… High stock values for American companies that run their companies for themselves? W/O benefit of “wise intervention” from Government Almighty? This ***IS*** pure evil, in the eyes of both Comrade Bernie, AND the Trumptatorship!

    2. A history of the company and its financials would be helpful.

      Some companies will go under no matter what Trump is to blame for.

      Bernie does not like tariffs like Trump. Trump is using tariffs to get lower trade restrictions with trading partners like Canada and Mexico did. Bernie wants to own and control the means of production, which Socialists do.

    3. I like your last comment comparing Bernie to King Donald. And you can throw Liz in there too. Those three are cut from the same cloth so much more so than most people realize. All believe in the superiority of government to make decisions instead of leaving it to individuals.

  12. I’m not a big fan of tariffs.

    I’m also not a big fan of letting Chinese companies just out-and-out lie, cheat, and steal to take advantage of us. They sell us stainless steel that isn’t stainless. They sell us dog food that is cardboard. They sell us toys covered in lead paint. They steal intellectual property. They don’t respect us in general. They refuse to play by the same set of rules.

    I think a lot of Americans are just glad that someone is finally holding them to account, rather than just rolling over for them. Even if the method for keeping them in check is ill-advised to the point of being counter productive, sometimes it feels good to say ‘FU’ to China.

    1. Either we all play by the same basic rules of trade or not.

      China does not want to. China wants Americans to buy their cheap junk so they can steal American IP and build up their military to invade other Asian nations.
      People’s Liberation Army Navy

      China has over 25 amphibious warfare ships. These are designed to support combat operations via amphibious landings.

      1. Well that does it. I am not buying any more Chinese amphibious warships.

        1. You’re paying for them whether you like it or not.

          Oh wait, you have never created anything of value for the Chinese to steal.

          1. And the Chinese are paying for American amphibious warships. Those are paid for largely by debt spending which they buy up with all of those dollars they are holding on to.

            See how this works? Don’t kid yourself by thinking that a tariff on Apple watches is about the military issue. I think we have too much spending on that but no problem with keeping up our bases and naval patrols in the region hopefully to prevent a war and keep the shipping lanes open.

            We need those shipping lanes to keep up trade. Silly strategy to stop trade in order to keep it going.

          2. “oh wait, you have never created anything of value for the Chinese to steal.”

            Well I did work with a very beautiful Chinese grad student back in the day. She stole my heart.

    2. And libertarians can feel good saying FU to anyone telling me who I can trade with and at what price.

      People will buy any horsecrap the government sells. Japan bad China good, French fries renamed freedom fries, Vietnam is our buddy now, Muslims bad, well China is taking some of the heat off them now.

      There are always issues. The Dutch are overcharging for chocolate and are not buying enough ketchup. Besides they are socialists, I think, they have free education or something.

      Where was I? Libertarians…never mind.

      1. Liberty means saving a nickel by trading with foreign slavers.

        Muh Free Trade!


      2. And libertarians can feel good saying FU to anyone telling me who I can trade with and at what price.

        In a libertarian country, I couldn’t care less if you trade with the Chinese or anyone else. But we don’t live in a libertarian country, we live in the US, where half my income goes to the government, and half the economy is government spending, largely to keep people put out of work by cheap foreign competition from starving.

        So, yes, since I pay a lot of money to keep this country running, I will have a say in who you do or do not trade with and under what conditions.

        Stop taking my money and you can do whatever you like.

    3. Things that have never been a problem for libertarians:

      1) Deceptive business practices and substandard merchandise (Whatever happened to “buyer beware”?)

      2) Toxic substances on consumer products (lead paint chips build character, remember?)

      3) Intellectual property (Unless I’ve totally misread everything written about file sharing on Reason)

      4) What furriners think about the US

      5) Not “playing by the rules”

      6) The government not “doing something”.

      Did I wake up on Bizzaro World or is there a Republican president?

      1. Wow. I haven’t seen that particular litany of strawmen in a long time.

        You’ve never actually had a two-way conversation with a libertarian, have you?

        1. Oh, I’ve had plenty. Enough to know how fast your alleged principles get dropped when you feel it’s to your advantage to drop them. This YouTube thing? I know enough that when things like this happened to people you don’t like you don’t hesitate with things like “buyer beware, life isn’t fair, it’s a private company, 1A doesn’t apply” yadda, yadda, yadda. And let’s not even start with your situational wokeness.

          1. Enough to know how fast your alleged principles get dropped when you feel it’s to your advantage to drop them.

            Oh? And you have examples of this? I don’t mean where one guy says one thing and someone else says another thing and you say “look what hypocrites libertarians are!” but, you know, like, actual libertarians dropping their principles in this way?

            This YouTube thing? I know enough that when things like this happened to people you don’t like you don’t hesitate with things like “buyer beware, life isn’t fair, it’s a private company, 1A doesn’t apply” yadda, yadda, yadda.

            Really? Have I been arguing that YouTube should be forced to host people I like but not people I don’t? I don’t recall having done so, but you seem awfully sure of yourself, so maybe you can remind me?

            And let’s not even start with your situational wokeness.

            Lol. And what, pray tell, is that supposed to mean? Libertarians only have correct views sometimes?

            If you’re going to do this disaffected sarcasm thing, you need to be on your game a bit better.

      2. Things that have always been a problem for libertarians:

        1) Socialist Dictatorships

        1. But fascist dictatorships? So long as it pwns the libs, it’s cool with you, amirite?

          1. But fascist dictatorships?

            To what fascist dictatorship are you referring? Trump? I’m going to need to see you write down/type out, “The US, as it currently stands, is a fascist dictatorship with Donald Trump as its dictator.” before I believe that’s what you’re saying.

            1. How about Reason’s love letters to Pinochet? “Okay, he systematically murdered thousands of political opponents and ruled through fear, but he wasn’t a commie and you could buy Pepsi so everything’s cool” is the general tenor of observations I’ve seen out of Libertopia.

              1. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and speculate that part of your confusion and frustration arises from not listening to what people actually say, instead substituting what you’ve decided is “the general tenor.”

                Like taking “while Pinochet was a brutal dictator, his economic liberalization ultimately led to a freer country in which merely thousands, rather than tens of millions, died by the iron fist of government” and turning it into “he wasn’t a commie and you could buy Pepsi so everything’s cool.”

                It’s no wonder you think libertarians are such simple-minded hypocrites. It may have something to do with the lens you’re using.

                1. Reality makes you look awful, I know. I’d love to get into Reason’s extensive Holocaust denial and that conservatives now actually believe hurricane Dorian is a hoax perpetrated by the liberal media but I have pressing matters to attend to.

                  I’ll call George Soros and make sure he doesn’t have a Gaynazicommiemuslimatheistanarchistauthoritarianmercantilistfeministphilatetistintellectualevolutionistenvironmentalisttrannytrilateralistbilderburgerbohemianilluminatifreemason (circle which group you believe has a centuries-old plan to take away your spank mags this week – and, yeah “that’s all one word, haw haw haw, I get it) take any of your stuff tonight because I like you.

                  1. You are stupid beyond belief. It will be good when we force you to leave America. Or you can just drink your Drano.

                  2. I’d love to get into Reason’s extensive Holocaust denial

                    Lol. I’m sure you would.


                    *jazz hands*

    4. Reason: Retaliating against Chinese trade abuse is bad, m’kay? Economic tells us that Americans all benefit when China screws us.

      1. Economics tells us that screwing is best when it is consensual and both partners get something out of it.

        Some folks call that free market capitalism.

        1. Is that what you call buying widgets made with foreign slave labor?

          Free market capitalism?

  13. I get stuck on the fact that TRump offered complete free trade right out of the gate.

    The world laughed at him.

    Reason laughed at him.

    He still mumbles about it from time to time. And you all still laugh.

    Because you all act as if that offer made him an ignoramus–even as you say that pure free trade is the way to go.

    And you think you make sense.

    1. Because he contradicts himself by saying things like “tariffs are good” and he acts by threatening and using them on a regular basis, not just against China. He just threatened a tariff on French wine.

      “I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN” Donald Trump

      Like the guy who preaches monogamy and keeps cheating on his wife and everyone knows it. Hard to take him seriously.

      1. There is no contradiction. “Free trade” means unrestricted flow of goods and capital between nations with free market economies. To equate unilateral tariff-free imports from a communist regime to a social welfare state with “free trade” is ludicrous.

        1. I do not agree. The definition of free trade does not involve the form of government. It is unrestricted trade without government interference. The Kingdom of Xanadu could have free trade with the Socialist Peoples State of Tiberius in theory.

          True free trade does not really exist.

          I do not believe that anything approaching that it is what Trump is after. He is a protectionist and mercantilist at heart. His words and actions prove that. He also has the misconception that trade deficits are a loss.

          It is possible to have freer trade and create wealth just by lowering your own barriers. As has been pointed out Hong Kong and Singapore prove that. Yet Trump keeps moving in the opposite direction.

          1. I do not agree. The definition of free trade does not involve the form of government. It is unrestricted trade without government interference.

            And such trade does not exist between the US and China, with or without tariffs. On top of that, the existence of free trade by itself is not sufficient for comparative advantage to result in overall more wealth, or for that wealth to accrue to citizens.

            It is possible to have freer trade and create wealth just by lowering your own barriers.

            It is also possible to destroy wealth, commit theft on a massive scale, and destroy your own country by lowering your own barriers unilaterally.

            As has been pointed out Hong Kong and Singapore prove that.

            You’re comparing the US to Hong Kong and Singapore and attribute differences to a single factor. I’ll let the absurdity of that statement stand for itself.

  14. Trade war is an oxymoron unless you mean a war against trade like a blockade.
    ‘I get stuck on the fact that Trump offered complete free trade right out of the gate.’

    So let’s call his bluff.

  15. The term “trade war” is misleading because it implies that the damage isn’t done until the other side retaliates. In a real war if we drop a bomb on our enemy, the damage is unsymmetric. Little to us (cost of plane, fuel, danger to the crew) but big to them. It’s when they strike back that we really get hurt. But in a trade war, the only way to bomb our “enemy” is to simultaneously bomb ourselves. The damage is immediate.

    1. But in a trade war, the only way to bomb our “enemy” is to simultaneously bomb ourselves. The damage is immediate.

      And how are we hurting ourselves? Given the massive deficits and consumer debt in the US, anything that reduces consumption and raises government revenue is a good thing.

      1. Heh heh

        I see what you did there. The recipe for recession.

        1. The economy has been living on borrowed time for half a decade now; a recession is inevitable. Tariffs have nothing to do with that.

      2. We’re hurting ourselves by not allowing our citizens (including our businesses) access to the best price for the best product that the world market offers. That has always been our strength until King Donald showed up.

        To think otherwise is to not believe in the “invisible hand” of Adam Smith–the idea that free people making decisions for themselves create a much better world than government officials making decisions for them. That prosperity and freedom are not only compatible with each other but require each other.

        Trump, like so many others (perhaps you), start with the principle that buying is bad and selling is good, that trade deficits are bad and trade surpluses are good. You have to break out of that paradigm! The trade deficit alarmists are just like the global warming ones, always screaming about how the country is coming to a reckless end unless we do something and do it quick–and their something always means more government control. We’ve been running a trade deficit every year since 1976. If these people were right, our economy would be worse than Haiti’s!

        If we got rid of the tariffs and allowed our citizens to decide for themselves how to spend their money (after all, it is theirs!) what will happen? Well, we’ll buy more and the trade deficit will go up. Egads! That can only mean one of two things. Either #1 the “invisible hand” doesn’t exist–freedom and prosperity are at odds with each other and the only way to increase the latter is to restrict the former. Or #2 trade deficits are not bad. I believe strongly in #2!

    2. But in a trade war, the only way to bomb our “enemy” is to simultaneously bomb ourselves.

      This only considers an exceedingly economic view and a narrow one at that. There are asymmetric anti-trade tools or ‘weapons’. (Not-so-)Ironically, your very definition of a trade war is askew such that it’s wholly defined by Trump’s actions.

  16. That is, American companies are reallocating resources to blunt the effects of the tariffs or to reconfigure global supply chains, rather than expanding or hiring.

    Yes, that is the point. Trump is trying to punish China, not engage in protectionism. That’s why these tariffs are on Chinese imports, not all imports.

    Do you understand now, Eric? Or will you persist in arguing a straw man?

  17. Trump’s foolish decides cant surprise me anymore
    زوج درمانی قطعی

  18. I am in indonesia. I know that trade war make my country get down. I sad for this. I have bussines a href=”” title=”konveksi kaos jogja”>konveksi kaos jogja . Because this trade war my bussines get slower for the growth. I think its make me feel down.

  19. I am in indonesia. I know that trade war make my country get down. I sad for this. I have bussines a konveksi kaos jogja . Because this trade war my bussines get slower for the growth. I think its make me feel down.

  20. Free trade may be a good thing, but absolutely nobody could possibly claim that China operates a free trade model. They use virtual slave labour. The practice force IT transfer. The manipulate their currency. The actually already have tariffs on American goods which America has ignored for decades. They restrict the amount of goods imported from America and other nations and they subsidise their private companies to reduce the prices of their goods thereby ensuring these goods undercut the price of goods produced in America.
    There is nothing free in America’s trade deal with China and it sickens me that anyone still believes that this trade imbalance should be allowed to continue. This is not a partisan issue and past presidents have avoided dealing with this issue for decades.
    Democrats have chosen to support China over this issue because it is Trump who has determined to tackle this obvious abuse of the trade agreement by China. They do not follow any of the rules set up by the WTO despite being a member.
    Democrats continually point to the damage this is doing to the American economy yet never point to the damage the current situation has done to the American economy or workers. The American workforce has been decimated by this trade imbalance.
    Any president who took this on should be commended, not vilified. I would be cheering Obama on over this issue just as much as Trump despite the fact I believe Obama was a shameful, useless president.

    1. Well, I’m glad you at least believe it “may be” a good thing.

      You’re spot on right that China does not operate a free trade model–not even close. Their country is an oligarchy, where individual rights are basically absent. Its government is run more like a crime syndicate than anything else. Access to their markets comes only at a price (technology transfers, etc.) and they subsidize their exports. But that being the case, how best should we deal with them? #1 Should we emulate them and restrict the freedom of our own citizens? Or #2 should we at least grant our own citizens the freedom to do what they want with their own money? After all, it is theirs! Which route leads to a better country and a better world? If you believe like I do that freedom and prosperity are intricately linked then #2 is the obvious answer.

      Let’s say that, pre-Trump: “Chinese producers can sell their products in China and in the US, but US producers can only sell in the US.” This is exaggeration and simplification but it illustrates the point–a blatantly unfair situation that favors Chinese producers over US ones, no question about it. But does that mean it favors China over the US? Another way to state the same thing is: “US consumers can buy products from the US and from China but Chinese consumers can only buy from China”. Clearly this favors the US consumer over the Chinese one. So again, why do we want to emulate China?

      You’re right about something else too. Any Democratic resistance to the tariffs is simply knee-jerk anti-Trump sentiment. Bernie Sanders’ position on trade, which he outlined during the 2016 campaign, is pretty much the same as King Donalds.

  21. If China makes some reforms, then technically the trade war has a winner; the whole word, including China, for embracing a free-er trade system than existed previously.

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