Donald Trump

Trump's Trade War Made the Pandemic Worse, and Nationalism Will Slow the Recovery

Protectionism is now infecting the GOP to a degree that may be difficult to eradicate when the Trump era ends. 

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"One of the things this crisis has taught us," Peter Navarro, a top administration economic adviser, explained from behind the podium in the White House's briefing room, "is that we are dangerously overdependent on a global supply chain."

It was April 2, and, after weeks of largely ignoring COVID-19 as it spread around the world and into the United States, the Trump administration was finally taking the pandemic seriously. That is to say, it was responding in much the same way as it has throughout President Donald Trump's tenure: by finding new ways to use old laws to expand federal power—particularly power over the free exchange of goods across international borders.

As the novel coronavirus swept the globe and jammed up international supply lines, Navarro was appointed policy coordinator for the White House's use of the Defense Production Act—a relic of the Korean War era originally intended to allow the federal government to requisition goods to supply the military in a time of crisis. Trump and Navarro have used the law to redirect portions of the economy in an effort to address civilian needs, scrambling markets in the process.

Along the way, they targeted foreign trade too. For Trump, Navarro, and the other neo-nationalists increasingly setting policy for the post-2016 Republican Party, America's modern problems mostly stem from goods and people coming across the country's borders. If a problem can't be blamed on immigration, it probably will get blamed on trade. Sometimes both. And the neo-nationalists weren't about to let the coronavirus crisis go to waste.

"If we learn anything from this crisis," Navarro said in April, "it should be: Never again should we have to depend on the rest of the world for essential medicines and countermeasures."

This framing sounds like simple electoral politics. The Republican Party hopes to use the pandemic as an opportunity to double down on Trump's "get tough on China" message that helped deliver key Rust Belt states in 2016.

But it's more than that. Protectionism is now infecting the GOP to a degree that may be difficult to excise when the Trump era ends. Leading Republican lawmakers such as Sens. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) and Marco Rubio (R–Fla.), who have been cheerleading Trump's misguided tariff policy for years, are already positioning the coronavirus as an excuse to use federal power to reshape global trade. Even some formerly anti-Trump conservatives have been swayed into backing a nationalist vision of an America that must stand up to China or be swallowed by it. The COVID-19 outbreak has served only to confirm their fears.

"America must never again rely on China for our medical supplies," Rich Lowry, editor of National Review and author of The Case for Nationalism (Broadside Books), wrote in an early April op-ed for the New York Post. Two weeks later, in an op-ed for The New York Times, Rubio claimed that America was "largely unable to import supplies from China" because China had "monopolized those critical supply chains" for "domestic consumption and their own fight against the virus."

But this fantasy of a strong America that's also fully self-sufficient and isolated from global supply chains—and, yes, it is a fantasy—ignores the tremendous benefits that expanded global trade has unleashed in recent decades. Under Trump, that vision was already gaining currency on the right. The pandemic, which originated in China and disrupted global trading, strengthened it further.

The right's increasingly vocal trade skeptics have taken advantage of a crisis to advocate a national industrial policy designed not only to decouple the United States from the global trading network but to put America on dangerous Cold War–like footing with one of its biggest trade partners. In doing so, they're pushing ideas that will leave America less prepared for the next pandemic—and have already left us less able to handle this one.

The Fallacy of Chinese Dependence

The argument that the United States ought to be striving for self-sufficiency rests on a story about our dependence on foreign producers for medical equipment, drugs, and other vital products. This is an extension of how Navarro and Trump have cast China as the boogeyman responsible for a broad swath of America's economic problems. But that story is largely untrue—or at the very least more complicated than it first appears.

Data from the World Trade Organization (WTO) show that over the past three years—both before and during Trump's trade war with China—American consumers and businesses imported an average of $13.5 billion per year in medical supplies from China. That's good enough to put China in fourth place, behind Switzerland ($15.5 billion annually, on average), Germany ($19.6 billion), and Ireland ($27.9 billion). America imported less than half the value of medical supplies from China in 2019 as it imported from Ireland, yet you probably didn't hear many politicians and media personalities grandstanding about an overreliance on Irish manufacturing.

Meanwhile, an April report from the St. Louis Federal Reserve found that 70 percent of essential medical supplies consumed in the United States in 2018—including gloves, hand sanitizer, masks, and other key coronavirus-fighting stuff—were produced in the United States.

China may be more dependent on American medical exports than the other way around. That same WTO report shows that China bought more medical supplies from America than it did from any country other than Germany in each of the past three years. Is this what Navarro means when he says we are "dangerously overdependent" on global supply chains? In reality, the world's biggest economies are deeply interdependent.

It's true that China is the top global exporter of personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer, and some other items necessary to combat the coronavirus. But the facts are more complicated than Rubio claims.

Exports of PPE from China to Europe and the United States fell by 17 and 19 percent, respectively, during the first two months of this year—but overall exports to those same destinations fell by 20 and 28 percent, respectively, during the same period. This suggests the drop was a reflection of global economic conditions rather than a protectionist measure imposed by China on its trade partners. Exports of PPE from China to the rest of the world then increased in March, as the virus abated there and factories reopened, according to data analyzed by Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), a trade-focused think tank. Still, massive worldwide demand has continued to outstrip supply.

What about pharmaceuticals? In February, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) touched off a brief panic with a statement warning that the coronavirus outbreak in China could disrupt supply chains and lead to a shortage of drugs in America. The neo-nationalists pounced. In a February letter to the FDA, Hawley called America's supposed dependence on Chinese-made drugs "inexcusable." Part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the $2.3 trillion aid bill passed by Congress and signed by Trump in March, calls for the Department of Health and Human Services to develop "strategies to…encourage domestic manufacturing" of pharmaceuticals. By May, the Trump administration had approved a $350 million grant for a little-known Virginia company that promised to make drugs in the United States. "This is a great day for America," Navarro proclaimed at a press conference.

In the rush to throw taxpayer money at the problem, the White House didn't wait to see if a problem actually existed. On June 2, an FDA official testified that the agency had found no evidence of shortages of drugs caused by foreign governments restricting exports.

The truth is that America's global supply lines for pharmaceutical drugs are actually quite diverse and resilient. There are roughly 2,000 manufacturing facilities around the world authorized by the FDA to produce active pharmaceutical ingredients for American consumers; only 230 of those are in China. Some 510 are in the United States, and 1,048 are in the rest of the world. The supply chains for the 370 drugs on the World Health Organization's list of "essential medicines," which includes "anesthetic, antibacterial, antidepressant, antiviral, cardiovascular, anti-diabetic, and gastrointestinal agents," are similarly global: 21 percent of production facilities are in the United States, with 15 percent located in China and 64 percent located somewhere else.

Diverse supply chains have benefits. They allow drug manufacturers to operate more nimbly and efficiently, which "also offers an advantage when confronting natural disasters and other crises," says Sally Pipes, the president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, a free market think tank. Pipes, who also serves as the organization's chief fellow for health care policy, points to the example of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in 2017 and disrupted operations at dozens of pharmaceutical plants on the island. Shortly after the storm hit, Scott Gottlieb, then-commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told reporters there could be shortages of 40 different drugs.

Those shortages never materialized either, thanks to global supply chains that allowed drug manufacturers to shift production elsewhere and move supplies easily from one country to another. The same logic applies now. "The height of a deadly pandemic is the worst possible time to suddenly dismantle global drug supply chains," Pipes says.

Casualties of a Trade War

If there is a second-worst time to start dismantling supply chains, it is immediately before a pandemic. Unfortunately, the Trump administration did that too.

As president, Trump has charted a go-it-alone strategy that emphasizes brute power over diplomatic finesse and that sees trade as a means by which other countries take advantage of the United States. Shortly after taking office in 2017, he yanked the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation trade agreement that was widely seen as the best way to put pressure on China to change some of its unacceptable behaviors. Instead of that multilateral effort, Trump sought a one-on-one confrontation that attempted to use tariffs to bully China into changing its ways. But his trade war has so far produced only meager results.

A "phase one" agreement signed in December 2019 did nothing to offset the huge costs to both economies of the tariffs the two countries have raised against one another. And the one big "win" secured by Trump—a promise that China would buy more American agricultural goods—seems unlikely to materialize in the face of a global recession.

That lone policy victory has been offset by numerous tangible losses. Since 2018, Trump has imposed tariffs on steel, aluminum, solar panels, and washing machines. Other tariffs have been aimed at roughly $300 billion in annual imports from China—covering everything from industrial equipment to children's toys. All together, those tariffs have sucked an estimated $80 billion out of the U.S. economy, according to an estimate from the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax policy think tank.

The tariffs have also imposed a human toll, one that became more obvious during the coronavirus outbreak.

"Any disruption to this critical supply chain erodes the health care industry's ability to deliver the quality and cost management outcomes that are key policy objectives of the country," Matt Rowan, president of the Health Industry Distributors Association, told the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative at a hearing back in August 2018.

At the time, the administration was weighing whether to include products like hand sanitizer, thermometers, oxygen concentrators, surgical gloves, and other types of medical-grade protective gear in the list of Chinese-made items to be subjected to new tariffs. Rowan emphasized that such supplies were "essential to protecting health care providers and their patients" and would remain "a critical component of our nation's response to public health emergencies."

The most instantly noticeable effect of Trump's tariffs was to increase the price of goods imported from China, including medical equipment. Importers would have no choice but to "almost immediately" pass along those price increases to "hospitals, surgery centers, long-term care facilities, individual consumers, and government programs who purchase our products," Lara Simmons, the president of Medline Industries, one of the largest medical supply companies in the United States, said during a June 2019 hearing on the tariffs.

But the Trump administration went ahead with the tariffs anyway. Imports of medical equipment from China fell after the tariffs were imposed, and imports from other parts of the world did not increase enough to make up the difference. It's likely that hospitals and other health care providers were drawing down on existing inventories and hoping the trade war would end before they had to restock, says PIIE's Bown, who has analyzed changing supply chain patterns in the last few years.

Trump finally lifted tariffs on medical equipment after the pandemic struck. Unfortunately, the administration did nothing to remove tariffs on chemicals used to manufacture disinfectants and antiseptics—items that will be in even higher demand as the economy reopens.

"The tariff is making it more difficult for companies to supply our nation's essential workers with antiseptics and sanitizing products they need to protect themselves and others from COVID-19," says Chris Jahn, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council.

As the COVID-19 body count rose, Trump blamed China for making things worse by lying about the seriousness of the situation in December and January. The Communist regime in Beijing does deserve scorn for misleading the world about the pandemic's true nature during the early days of the outbreak. But Trump is far too eager to deflect blame from how his own policies weakened America's preparedness for the disease—and from how they might have made things much worse.

Pride, Patriotism, and Profits

Having successfully implemented policies that made America less ready for the COVID-19 outbreak by reducing imports, the White House has scrambled to respond to those shortcomings…by blaming exports.

The April 2 announcement that Navarro would be in charge of the Defense Production Act's use came after a week in which Navarro, in comments to The New York Times, had pilloried an American company for "operating like a sovereign profit-maximizing nation" and for lacking "pride and patriotism."

That company was the Minnesota-based 3M Corp. Best known for making sticky notes and other office products, 3M also happens to be one of the world's largest suppliers of respiratory face masks. That includes both the medical-grade N95 masks for which demand has been surging amid the COVID-19 outbreak and run-of-the-mill surgical and industrial masks.

When the coronavirus outbreak hit, 3M sprang into action: The company doubled its global production to 100 million N95 masks per month, with 35 million of those made in America. In early April, the company's CEO, Mike Roman, announced additional investments in mask-making capacity that will allow the company to produce 50 million N95s in the U.S. by June. For that remarkable mobilization of private capital and workforce productivity in the face of a deadly pandemic, 3M earned scorn from the economic nationalists in the White House.

When Trump signed the executive order implementing the Defense Production Act on April 3, he issued a blistering statement accusing "unscrupulous brokers, distributors, and other intermediaries" of operating like "wartime profiteers" simply for selling goods to buyers in other countries. "This conduct denies our country and our people the materials they need to win the war against the virus," Trump said. Though the formal statement did not mention 3M specifically, Trump was less diplomatic on Twitter. "We hit 3M hard today," he wrote in a follow-up tweet, as if the company's Minnesota headquarters were a newly discovered terrorist training ground. "[They] will have a big price to pay!"

What was 3M's alleged crime against America? Daring to sell face masks to distributors in Canada.

Set aside the belligerence of the president's remarks, and there is an intuitive appeal to what he's arguing: America is facing a pandemic, the thinking goes, and we can't afford to let go of necessary supplies—not even to a close ally like Canada. It's every nation for itself. Shouldn't Americans have those masks instead?

But 3M didn't stand for the president's shaming. In a statement, the company noted that in order to meet Americans' needs it was importing more masks than ever from its production facilities in China. "Ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done," 3M said. "If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease."

The knockout blow was 3M's revelation that its American mask production facilities rely on a special wood pulp imported from—yes—Canada. It was an incident that perfectly captured the myopia of Trump's anti-trade agenda.

The medical supplies subject to Trump's April 3 executive order accounted for more than $1.1 billion of U.S. exports in 2019, according to Commerce Department data analyzed by the Peterson Institute. If Trump were both constitutionally and logistically capable of stopping all exports of PPE due to the pandemic, that would mean, theoretically, that there would be $1.1 billion in additional medical gear available for American health care workers.

That's what Trump and his allies see. What they miss is that, in 2019, the U.S. imported more than $6 billion worth of PPE from around the world. If everyone followed the logic of "every country for itself," America would end up with a net loss of equipment totaling nearly $5 billion. This year, the gap would probably be even larger, as production everywhere has increased in response to the pandemic.

The nationalists argue that we should be willing to trade generalized economic losses for the safety and security that comes from not being dependent on other nations for critical supplies during an emergency, and that the government should enact policies to support domestic manufacturing of critical supplies.

The risks in that approach should be evident. "Suppose we made all of the medical gear in the United States that we needed, and we did this through tariffs or 'buy local' provisions that made it either prohibitively costly or illegal for hospitals to purchase these from anyone but ourselves," says Bown. That's what Trump and his allies seem to want, a reality where America is fully self-sufficient but also cut off from the rest of the world. Just look at how domestic meat supplies have been disrupted when American factories were shut down by the epidemic. What would we have done if 3M's respirator manufacturing plants in America were our only source, but had to be closed?

As a practical matter, it is obvious that the United States would be less capable of responding to the immediate COVID-19 crisis if it stopped trading with the rest of the world. "Re-shoring to America does not imply supply chain resilience," Bown says. "In a pandemic, excessive reliance on anyone (including yourself) is bad."

When Trade Restrictions Spark a Backlash

Trump intuitively understands why cutting off trade in the midst of a pandemic is a mistake, even if he doesn't fully realize it. The story of hydroxychloroquine proves as much.

In early April, the president became enamored of the anti-malarial drug, which he believed could help treat COVID-19. As a result, the White House had a brief diplomatic row with India over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to block hydroxychloroquine exports (as part of a plan to reduce all drug exports from the country by 10 percent).

"If he doesn't allow it to come out," Trump told reporters on April 6, "of course there may be retaliation."

Modi is a populist leader who has often been compared to Trump because of his nationalist rhetoric and willingness to demagogue against immigrants and minorities for political gain. He seems to view India's domestic production of drugs such as hydroxychloroquine with the same shortsightedness that the American president applied to 3M's mask-making operations. The dynamic was nearly identical, but the roles were flipped.

When it came to hydroxychloroquine, however, Trump was immediately able to discern why an Indian export ban was a terrible idea: It would mean American consumers might be cut off. And he was quick to threaten retaliation of the same sort the U.S. risks when denying trade to other countries.

Humanity's fight against the coronavirus depends upon drugs made all around the world and as much PPE as can possibly be produced in short order, often by companies, such as 3M, that operate internationally. Export bans might look smart in the moment—keep those masks in America, where Americans need them—but the strategy can and will backfire. Indeed, in plenty of places, it already has.

Data collected by Simon Evenett, a professor of international trade at the University of St. Gallen and the coordinator of research for Global Trade Alert, show that 102 new limits on the export of medical gear have been imposed by 75 different governments since the beginning of the year. The results are counterproductive to fighting the coronavirus.

The Swiss medical supply outfit Hamilton Medical, for example, ramped up production by 50 percent in response to the outbreak in Europe. But then the company hit a snag. A key component of its ventilators came from Romania, a member of the European Union. Because the E.U. had imposed export restrictions on medical equipment and component parts, Hamilton Medical's suppliers could no longer ship their wares to Switzerland, which is not an E.U. member.

"The premise of export bans—in this time of need, we need to keep our resources at home—is natural," says Alex Tabarrok, an economist at George Mason University. "But the virus is a worldwide challenge that needs a worldwide response. We is everyone in the world." Tabarrok says these kinds of "sicken thy neighbor" trade policies carry moral and ethical costs that go beyond the economic ones.

America's protectionists have tried to ignore or downplay the economic harm that Trump's go-it-alone policies have done to Americans. Those policies also mean America has less economic might with which to address a global crisis. The results could be catastrophic in humanitarian terms.

The Third World, in particular, is facing a potential perfect storm of bad trade policy. Export bans such as the ones Trump has pursued under the authority of the Defense Production Act obviously make fewer medical products available to the global market. By disrupting the flow of crucial components, trade restrictions such as the E.U.'s reduce the total amount of equipment the world can build during this time of crisis. And developing countries generally have higher tariffs to begin with—India, for example, imposes import duties on medical testing kits like the ones now being developed for detecting the coronavirus—a status quo that's sure to hinder the flow of supplies to people who desperately need it.

"Developing countries have no production of ventilators, so they're entirely dependent on importing the products," says Clark Packard, trade counsel for the R Street Institute, a free market think tank. "If countries restrict exports of ventilators, it would be really gruesome."

The Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the most populous nations in Africa, has about one such machine for every 10 million residents, according to World Health Organization data. By comparison, when the coronavirus first hit, the U.S. had about 160,000 ventilators, or roughly one for every 2,100 people. This is a problem that will not be solved with export restrictions and nationalist rhetoric in the developed world.

A Pandemic Is Not a War

Trade has been essential—and will continue to be essential—in combating the coronavirus pandemic. But tellingly, Trump views the outbreak as confirmation of his preexisting views.

"There's nothing good about what happened with the plague," Trump told Fox Business during a May 14 interview. "But the one thing is, it said 'Trump was right'" about the risks of having "stupid supply chains all over the world."

Nationalism always requires a political mobilization against some outside force. Trump has largely—though not exclusively—put China in that role. Long before he was declaring himself to be a "wartime president" in the fight against COVID-19, Trump was eager to declare what he thought would be a "good and easy to win" trade war with China as the primary opponent.

The coronavirus pandemic was not part of the plan, but it fit neatly into that narrative—and, indeed, the Chinese government's attempt to keep the virus a secret during the early stages of the outbreak is a worse crime against the world than anything Trump has ever accused China of doing economically. It is also true, of course, that the Chinese government is a repressive dictatorship that abuses the rights of minorities and dissidents, disregards personal privacy and individual liberty, and violates international norms of commerce. And it is true, as the Trumpian nationalists like to point out, that the expansion of trade between that country and the global West has not ended these abuses.

But if you actually listen to what Trump and Navarro and the others are saying, it should become obvious that they see a confrontation with China and now the "war" against the virus as means to an end.

"We shouldn't have supply chains. We should have them all in the United States," Trump said in that same May 14 interview, spelling it out for all to hear. This has never been solely about strategically countering a competitor's rise or trying to shift supply chains away from a potentially hostile communist country. It's about autarky, or at least about detaching America from the global trading systems that have helped lift much of the world out of poverty.

That's not a recipe for prosperity at home. It makes no more sense than suggesting that Ohio would prosper if it decided tomorrow to stop trading with the other 49 states.

Further trade restrictions will "hamstring the ability of U.S. pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers to meet our future needs if firms are denied access to essential foreign supplies," a group of more than 250 economists wrote in a May 13 letter to the White House, congressional leaders, and Trump's top trade advisers. "Costly protectionism should not be foisted on patients at home and abroad."

The same is true of Hawley's latest idea: to yank the United States out of the World Trade Organization. Doing so would sever American businesses and consumers from the lower tariff rates that WTO member nations offer one another, potentially erasing $2.7 trillion in global gross domestic product, according to an analysis by two economists at the University of Indiana. Far from impoverishing Americans, as Hawley and others claim, the global trade that's been unleashed since the WTO was founded in 1995 has contributed to a 17 percent increase in median weekly earnings for American workers. Leaving the WTO would also clear the way for China to expand its influence within that body, allowing it to dictate even more of the terms of global trade.

As the virus abates, the world will probably reconsider the approach it has taken toward China. If there are individual items for which America is heavily dependent on that country—particular medicines, perhaps—then manufacturers should look to further diversify supply chains. The federal government could encourage that behavior by lowering tariffs for imports from countries that compete with China to produce medical gear and pharmaceuticals. Pursuing nativist "buy American" policies or other forms of protectionism is neither the only solution nor the best one.

But the benefits of free trade and global economic integration created by decades of peaceful cooperation between nations should not be reconsidered. Taxing imports weakened America in advance of the pandemic. Raising barriers to trade made it more difficult to combat COVID-19 once the crisis hit. Nationalism will leave the world sicker and poorer.

Despite all that evidence to the contrary, Hawley, Trump, Navarro, and others seek to use the coronavirus as a cudgel to smash the system of global trade. They would replace it with an alternative that leaves America less free, less prosperous, and less capable of handling the next crisis.

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  1. Mr. Boehm, one of your better articles. So thank you for that.

    The United States is currently engaged in a conflict with China. We did not start this conflict, but we will end it on terms of our choosing. The fact is, China is a serially lying, serially cheating, kleptomanic country who is dedicated to our destruction. They are not a trustworthy partner for anything.

    We have agreed to a trade deal that China makes no attempt to hold up their end of the bargain. They continue malign behavior of IP theft, and cheating. Their actions in the South China sea, with Hong Kong and military maneuvers wrt Taiwan make all too clear what their intention are. We cannot acquiesce and roll over.

    The time has come to build a Great Wall around China, and strangle them slowly. Call it decoupling, moving supply chains, whatever. But we can and must isolate China, and defeat them once and for all. Victory, in this context, is the removal of the CCP from power, and the stopping of their malignant behavior around the world.

    If this means that we have to pay a price, so be it. The failure to pay a modest price now will ensure we pay a tremendous price later. If we do not act now while we can, what do you think will happen later when we do not have the capacity to act? Does anyone think that China will treat the world benignly?

    I like free trade as much as anyone. But free trade relies upon transparency, honesty, and agreed upon rules. China does none of these things. And that is the bottom line here. The Chinese are untrustworthy and malignant. And must be isolated and defeated.

    1. You say “free trade relies upon transparency, honesty, and agreed upon rules” and I agree. But trade is between individuals and companies, not countries. Please answer this basic question I ask of every protectionist:

      Where do you get the moral authority to control my trade? How do you square that with individualism?

      Please don’t say “The Constitution” — I am asking about the moral authority to control my business.

      Please don’t say “national security” — Congress has not declared war with China.

      Please don’t tell me you know more than I do about my business, or that it’s for my own good, or any other such nanny nonsense.

      1. “Moral” authority?

        This is busness you fucking retard.

        1. Tulpa the asshole is being an identity thief again! How to tell the difference between the REAL SQRLSY and the fake one:

          The REAL one is good-looking, smart, and benevolent! The fake one is EVIL and STUPID! The real posts have a link behind the poster-name… Hover your mouse-cursor over it, and it goes orange, indicating a link to a BRILLIANT and well-written web site… The fake one is just stupid, and goes nowhere!

          1. Don’t forget the real one eats poo.

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          2. Squirrelly, just go back to eating your own shit.

          3. It’s easy to tell the difference, one of you doesn’t copy paste the same stupid screeds that take up half the page.

    2. “The Chinese are untrustworthy and malignant. And must be isolated and defeated.”

      Which is a better route towards peace and prosperity? Assuming the BEST of others, until they ABSOLUTELY prove to be utterly hostile? Or always assuming the WORST of them, and seeking “pro-active, pre-emptive revenge”?

      So they don’t play by the exact rules that we’d like them to play by. When you are 15 and your little brother is 5, when you play chess with him, you give up your rook or queen (handicap yourself a wee tad) to let him catch up with your chess skills… If you treasure long-term peace in the family, that is… If you want little brother to get along with you when you are 30 and he is 20, and so on. Or, when you play golf with a business partner, and he sucks at golf, you cut him a few breaks. It’s called “getting along with others”. Do YOU want a shooting war with China? It’s where we’re headed, if The Donald doesn’t stop, and Congress doesn’t take back the powers that belong to Congress!

      Sometimes we need to have the humility to acknowledge that we cannot control others… We can only control ourselves!
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_China
      GDP per capita
      Increase $10,153 (nominal; 2019 est.)
      USA GDP per capita : 59,531.66 USD (2017)
      We are about 6 times as wealthy as they are!!! HOW MUCH MORE per-capita wealth do YOU want to have, compared to the Chinese, before you are willing to be a wee tad less greedy, nationalistic, and selfish? Maybe we should FIGHT a little less, and COOPERATE a wee tad more? And NOT try always to tell others what to do and not do? Be a little less Trump-ish, in other words? I think more cooperation and less competition would be in order here! Trump is flushing the world economy down the crapper, if there’s no stop to the trade wars!

      Really now… HOW MUCH more wealthy, per capita, are we going to have to be, before you’d consent to being more graceful, and not insisting that they play precisely by our rules?

      1. Also, I don’t fool anyone, I’m obviously Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf and I eat my own shit.

        1. Tulpa-Mary-Satan the asshole is being an identity thief again! Here is how to tell the difference between the REAL SQRLSY and the fake one:

          The REAL one is good-looking, smart, benevolent… A “Mensch”! The fake one is EVIL and STUPID! The fake one is written by some VERY shitty code, by Russian hackers! The real posts have a link behind the poster-name… Hover your mouse-cursor over it, and it goes orange, indicating a link to a BRILLIANT and well-written web site… The fake one is just stupid, and goes nowhere! Tulpa the fake (who WISHES FERVENTLY that it could be SQRLSY!) comes from nowhere, and is headed straight back to nowhere!

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      2. You’re a fucking idiot. I sure you advocated for complete acquiescence to the old Soviet Union too.

        Your kind should stick to it’s shit bowls, or better yet, just kill yourselves.

        1. Shitsy Shitler, drinking Shitsy Kool-Aid in a spiraling vortex of darkness, cannot or will not see the Light… It’s a VERY sad song! Kinda like this…

          He’s a real Kool-Aid Man,
          Sitting in his Kool-Aid Land,
          Playing with his Kool-Aid Gland,
          Has no thoughts that help the people,
          He wants to turn them all to sheeple!
          On the sheeple, his Master would feast,
          Master? A disaster! Just the nastiest Beast!
          Kool-Aid man, please listen,
          You don’t know, what you’re missin’,
          Kool-Aid man, better thoughts are at hand,
          The Beast, to LEAVE, you must COMMAND!

          A helpful book is to be found here: M. Scott Peck, Glimpses of the Devil
          https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1439167265/reasonmagazinea-20/

          Hey Shitsy Shitler…
          If EVERYONE who makes you look bad, by being smarter and better-looking than you, killed themselves, per your wishes, then there would be NO ONE left!
          Who would feed you? Who’s tits would you suck at, to make a living? WHO would change your perpetually-smelly DIAPERS?!!?
          You’d better come up with a better plan, Stan!

          1. Haha. Wow. If this is an example of your “Brilliant and well written web site”, I don’t think you’re gonna get anyone to “hover their mouse cursors” over anything to get there.

            You are out there, dude.

            1. Let’s see you do better, Oh Brilliant One!

              Gasbag Blowhard,
              Please listen!
              You don’t know,
              What you’re missing!
              Donald’s ass, don’t be kissin’!
              Trump won’t love you,
              He’ll push and shove you!
              He’ll take your vote,
              Then call you a goat!
              He’ll tax your money,
              Then steal your Honey!
              Your pussy, He will grab,
              Your back, He will stab!
              His-victims-routines, He’s iterating,
              Shit about YOU, He’ll be Twitterating!

              1. It will be good when you’re dead.

    3. Commenter_XY,

      China is currently engaged in a conflict with The United States. We did not start this conflict, but we will end it on terms of our choosing. The fact is, The United States is a serially lying, serially cheating, kleptomanic country who is dedicated to China’s destruction. They are not a trustworthy partner for anything.

      China have agreed to a trade deal that The United States makes no attempt to hold up their end of the bargain. They continue malign behavior of violence, and cheating. Their actions in the South China sea, with Hong Kong riots and military maneuvers wrt Iraq, Afganistan. Libya, Syria & Taiwan make all too clear what their intention are. China cannot acquiesce and roll over.

      The time has come to build a Great Wall around The United States, and strangle them slowly. Call it decoupling, moving supply chains, whatever. But China can and must isolate The United States, and defeat them once and for all. Victory, in this context, is the removal of the US from power, and the stopping of their malignant behavior around the world.

      If this means that we have to pay a price, so be it. The failure to pay a modest price now will ensure we pay a tremendous price later. If we do not act now while we can, what do you think will happen later when we do not have the capacity to act? Does anyone think that The United States will treat the world benignly?

      I like free trade as much as anyone. But free trade relies upon transparency, honesty, and agreed upon rules. The United States does none of these things. And that is the bottom line here. The United States are untrustworthy and malignant. And must be isolated and defeated.

      Their 500 oversea military bases, daily killings in middle east, raping in Japan & Korea military bases, invasion of Iraq.
      Every empire will come to an end. The United States started going down hill after the collapse of Soviet Union. Without USSR, the capitalists controls the US. With the greed and racism so systematically entrenched in The United States system, there is no way to fix this.

      BLM will never ends, White power movement will be worsen and fascist will be in power in the near future.

      EU , Russia, India and China will have to keep The United States at bay. its time to lock the beast up.

      1. Troll or extremely paranoid. Anyway any country whose citizens eat bats is not one you can trust.

        1. https://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2012/08/07/158221181/on-the-road-in-florida-hard-times-politics-and-smoked-bat

          Hot Rod’s BBQ is hard to miss in somewhat sleepy Lutz, Fla. The yard is littered with folksy, hand-painted sculptures and signs. There’s a ramshackle front porch and smoke billowing out the side.

          When I walked in, I was a vegetarian. But then I ate the fruit bat.

          Of course, it has to be Florida.

      2. The fact is, The United States is a serially lying, serially cheating, kleptomanic country who is dedicated to China’s destruction. They are not a trustworthy partner for anything.

        …he wrote with the comfortably smug assurance of someone whose government is not spying on him 24/7 to make sure he doesn’t say something worthy of arrest or the death penalty

        1. Yeah, I know. That is why I did not bother responding. It was just ludicrous.

      3. Actually “free trade” relies upon nothing more than a government’s granting its citizens the right to buy and sell from foreigners to the extent that the foreigner’s government allows them to do the same.

    4. … and then possibility of proving China wrong about its ambitious domestic policy may come to mind as something that China’s own patriotic spirit may relate to on intellectual grounds.

      I can point out that America has seen some of its territories naturalize back to their own peoples that now are no longer possessions. For example, Philippines was previously an American commonwealth that gained its independence in 1946.

      China wants to control territories like Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan but impose its own form of rule where punishment applies for attempting any exercise of effort that is not already perfectly in tune with all the education of the finest Communist elite, is it not so? Imagine being punished for what you have to say or protest! Imagine a government that does not care to improve anything and turns away any form of your intelligence, where your very people outside the canton may not hear from you in organized, credible fashion. Is it not true?!??

  2. You know what else Drumpf’s trade war made worse? The net worth of Reason.com’s benefactor Charles Koch, that’s what.

    Even before the #TrumpVirus hit, Mr. Koch’s fortune was stagnating in the $60,000,000,000 range. While that might sound like a lot of money to most people, it’s a totally unacceptable figure for Mr. Koch. He deserves at least $70 billion or $80 billion. And that won’t happen in Drumpf’s high-tariff / low-immigration economy.

    #HowLongMustCharlesKochSuffer?

    1. “Trump’s Trade War Made the Pandemic Worse”

      International travel brought the CCP Virus across oceans to the US.

      And does anyone doubt that Reason cursed Trump when he shut down that travel?

      Clown magazine.

  3. I am still hoping for the movie theatre chains (AMC, Cinemark, Regal) to reopen in time for Unhinged, HERE►Click For More Detail.

  4. At Eric Boehm interview —

    Reason Staff, “Can you make anything, I mean anything at all, sound like the fault of trade negotiations?”

    Eric Boehm, “You bet!!! I’ll astonish you. I can take a pandemic caused by international travel and turn it on its head and blame trade negotiations for it…… You just watch..”

    1. A TJJ2000 comment — full of nothing but insults. Content-free. No questions, no answers, no nothing.

      1. Aww it hurts because he was making fun of you!

        1. Fake SQRLSY desperately wishes it was ANYTHING NEAR as good-looking, brilliant, and sexy as the REAL SQRLSY, so it settles for 8,576,355,633nd best, and PRETENDS to be SQRLSY!

          1. The real Squirrely would look far more handsome as a pile of ashes in an urn. The ashes to be spread amongst the port-o-potties of illegals. A tribute to his favorite source of food.

            1. Do you recall the awesome enchanter named “Tim”, in “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail”? The one who could “summon fire without flint or tinder”? Well, you remind me of Tim… You are an enchanter who can summon persuasion without facts or logic!

              So I discussed your awesome talents with some dear personal friends on the Reason staff… Accordingly…

              Reason staff has asked me to convey the following message to you:

              Hi Fantastically Talented Author:

              Obviously, you are a silver-tongued orator, and you also know how to translate your spectacular talents to the written word! We at Reason have need for writers like you, who have near-magical persuasive powers, without having to write at great, tedious length, or resorting to boring facts and citations.

              At Reason, we pay above-market-band salaries to permanent staff, or above-market-band per-word-based fees to freelancers, at your choice. To both permanent staff, and to free-lancers, we provide excellent health, dental, and vision benefits. We also provide FREE unlimited access to nubile young groupies, although we do firmly stipulate that persuasion, not coercion, MUST be applied when taking advantage of said nubile young groupies.

              Please send your resume, and another sample of your writings, along with your salary or fee demands, to ReasonNeedsBrilliantlyPersuasiveWriters@Reason.com .

              Thank You! -Reason Staff

              1. More cut and paste idiocy from Squirrely. You really are an argument for retroactive abortion. No one could possibly ever love you.

    2. ” I can take a pandemic caused by international travel and turn it on its head and blame trade negotiations for it”

      Is it possible that they really believe this piffle? Or is all amusing performance art to them, as they cash their KochBux?

  5. I’m all for complete free trade with Europe, South and Central America , Africa , most of Asia , Canada and the Aussies. Maybe even Russia. China is another matter. To much spying, stealing, lack of protection of contracts and property rights. Then there’s Hong Kong , the South China sea, concentration camps , and people disappearing, including foreign nationals . The rule of law does not exist in
    China.

    1. Exfuckingzactly! For decades the champions of business and industry, most especially the tech world, have been whining to government how the Chink thievery has diluted the brain gains they’ve been able to make and cost billions. A decade ago the Pentagon has whispered that Chink thefts and spying has compromised American defense and prodded congress to address the issue. Comes Trumpy, the only guy in Washington with balls who understands the three options a country has to such behavior; tariffs, sanctions, and/or shooting war. He takes the least intrusive option and Boehmmer etal commence to shake like a dog shitting a peach seed. Had congress endorsed the solution the slopes would have folded like a cheep suitcase. Better we should have attempted “action” through the UN, that bastion of personal and economic freedom.

    2. Then don’t trade with China.

  6. “As the COVID-19 body count rose, Trump blamed China for making things worse by lying about the seriousness of the situation in December and January. The Communist regime in Beijing does deserve scorn for misleading the world about the pandemic’s true nature during the early days of the outbreak. But Trump is far too eager to deflect blame from how his own policies weakened America’s preparedness for the disease—and from how they might have made things much worse.”

    Deserve some scorn? This ‘China bad but Trump worse’ shtick is laughably sophomoric and could only be swallowed by imbeciles.

    Aside from this piece reading like it’s Chinese propaganda (and I’ll address this later), what are you talking about? Did you just pin the bulk of the blame on Trump?

    This defies the facts.

    The virus originated in China. Correct? The virus, be it manufactured or natural (I’m starting to think the former), the spread out of China. Correct? Then the WHO revealed they ignored warnings from Taiwan and then waited three weeks to notify the world for reasons still not clear but clear enough to know China wasn’t forthright with information. Correct? Now, the WHO this past week in fact admitted China never warned them about it. That’s some done dirty there.

    Do you see Trump in there so far? Good. Neither do I. Let’s move along.

    Then the virus eventually hits Europe. I was in Europe in March. Know what the official Canadian stance was from officials? Nothing to see here. This was the original position in North America that came not from Trudeau (and fuck you for making me defend this corrupted, remedial, arrogant commie weirdo) and Trump but HEALTH CANADA AND THE CDC. Enter one Dr. Fauci. Superstar extraordinaire who soaks up his 15 minutes like a porn star at a bukkake blow bang.

    Trudeau and Trump were deferring to the people who, you know, CHARGED with the handling of these sorts of things and simply echoed that message coming from public health officials.

    Do NOT tell me Trudeau and Trump were at fault so far because they were not.

    And the paragraph completely gives the impression the CDC is not a fault. From what I’ve read about its mandate on their own website, they have ONE job and they literally messed that up. The way I see it, Trump saw they were a mess and started to, perhaps against council’s advice, to take matters into his own hands and this is the point where media (including yourself it looks like) start to paint the narrative. Mixed messages and in-fighting are symptoms of incompetence. Trump is in an election year so I kinda get why he tied to push Fauci off to the side because he probably perceived him to be a threat to his re-election.

    The protocols also make crystal clear it is the responsibility of the GOVERNORS to maintain stock in case of a pandemic. It’s the GOVERNORS who made a mess of their own states. Not Trump. In fact, when they asked for help because they were incompetent buffoons (sending people to die in nursing homes not leaning one fucken thing from Europe) Trump actually came through for them. He sent them their Navy ship, ventilators and even helped to increase testing.

    Still think the buck stops with Trump? How can it when, like here where the provinces are responsible for health with Ottawa serving as a safety net, health falls under the purvey of the State, no? So how is it Trump’s fault again? I’m not saying he made mistakes, he did, but your paragraph suggests it falls on him. I don’t think it does entirely. In my view, it’s in this order 1) China 2) CSC, 3) Governors, 4) Trump.

    Now. Remember in March when Trump RIGHTLY wanted to shut down air travel from China? Do you recall the reaction from the media and Democrats? Yup. He was racist. Pelosi was going into Chinatown for cynical photo-ops. Same crap up here. Head health official here Dr. Tam said it would be racist to do so. She should have resigned the day she said that because she went from neutral public health official to politicizing the pandemic with the usual identity politics poisoning North America at the moment.

    Bah.

    1. 2)CDC

    2. Enter one Dr. Fauci. Superstar extraordinaire who soaks up his 15 minutes like a porn star at a bukkake blow bang.

      Brilliant!!

      But now I need mind bleach to expunge that image.

  7. The left and the right in this country think we can go back to a time following WWII when the US dominated the world. Everything was made here and the rest of the world supplied the raw materials. That time is over. We may want to return but the rest of the world does not and will not go back to being third world nations. Here is a thought, instead of focusing on having enough PPE, ventilators, and medicines for the USA, how about focusing on enough for the world. A winning strategy has everyone doing well, not just the USA. Great article.

    1. “Here is a thought, instead of focusing on having enough PPE, ventilators, and medicines for the USA, how about focusing on enough for the world.”

      The “Rest of the world” is decidedly not our problem and the “rest of the world” has gotten lazy and complacent on the back of our largesse.

      1. Obviously not a fan of John Donne. As to the second part of your statement, BS. Tell that someone working long hours for low wages, so Americans can have cheap tee shirts.

        1. Tell the, what? Why do you say such idiotic things?

        2. They work long hours for low wages because that’s the best deal they can get.

          When you have an oversupply of unskilled or semiskilled labor, the prices are going to be low and the conditions not all that amenable. The way you fix that is with economic development, not a bunch of government decrees and laws. Placing a factory in an area where wages are low gives opportunities to people who need them the most (the low wages pointing to a vast disparity between the number of jobs desired and those that are available), and reduces the oversupply. Or would you rather not locate the factory there, not providing the jobs for those people who need them that much, reduce the inflow of money into that depressed region, and congratulate you for having people living in perpetual squalor rather than provide them with the one thing that can help?

          That’s typical leftist thinking. “Help” the poorest of the poor by taking jobs away and making sure they have no ladder to get out of the hole they’re in, then congratulate yourself for removing opportunities that they would have given anything to have.

          1. Not sure where you are going here. How does working long hours for low wages translate into people doing that work being lazy. I don’t happen to think that the rest of the world is lazy. I appreciate that those low skilled jobs in many cases can help people in the poorest part of the world get a leg up. I thing global trade is here to stay and people on the right and left are foolish to oppose it.

        3. “Tell that someone working long hours for low wages, so Americans can have cheap tee shirts.”

          They are working the hours they agreed to for the wage they agreed to *for their own benefit*, probably because it is better than the other alternatives available to them…unless they are Uighurs working in some factory in China for Nike against their will.

      2. He gave you the typical leftist squishy bullshit response.

    2. “Here is a thought, instead of focusing on having enough PPE, ventilators, and medicines for the USA, how about focusing on enough for the world.”

      That “rest of the world” has already benefitted from the USA many times over.

      They benefit from health care customers here in the US by letting US customers bear the full brunt of research and development costs and costs to bring new treatments to market while their governments cap the price of those items for their citizens.

      They benefit from not having to finance and/or field any meaningful military because US taxpayers bear the brunt of that burden for them so they can finance their social welfare states with crushing taxes compared to the US.

      And some of those “rest of the world”-ers have the unmitigated gall to lecture and scorn Americans because they “don’t really care about their fellow citizens all that much”.

      Let’s take a little trip down memory lane to address that one here. The Nazis systematically exterminated around six million men, women and children, even keeping meticulous records of it, while most of Europe didn’t lift a finger to stop it or denied that it even happened. So much for virtue-signaling their superiority over Americans about really caring for fellow citizens that much.

      1. “The Nazis systematically exterminated around six million men, women and children,”

        It was about eleven or twelve million. Six million was just the Jews.

        1. This is routinely ignored. Jews made up only half of the Nazi death camp count. The rest were a mixed bag of deplorables….er, undesirables.

      2. Sadly too many though out the world (Europe, Middle East, USA) ignored or were sympathetic to the Nazi for far too long. But that was almost a century ago. The world today is smaller than it has ever been and we can not pretend to hide out from the world. Too many things now have global impacts, like the pandemic, the environment, trade, and war. Watching out for ourselves today involves watching out for others.

  8. So the Wayfair thing…
    Bears monitoring

    1. My daughter was showing me. Very strange. The coincidences are enticing enough to attract conspiracies. I was reading up on it but can’t make sense of it. The 2020 timeline moves closer and closer to Alex Jones.

      Snopes – those left-wing dingbats – tagged it ‘False’.

    2. It’s bullshit, Nardz. For a variety of reasons.

      For brevity, go look at at different e-commerce sites, and you’ll see completely bullshit, insanely highly priced items. I’ve no reason why this must be so, but the people who programmed the pricing strategy seem to think it’s necessary. The item numbers need to be called something, and it strikes me as well within an aspie fuck’s wheelhouse to think it the height of comedy to populate the list of item numbers from a database of missing children names.

      Human trafficking, sex trafficking of minors, does occur. Usually it is local—runaway meets gorilla pimp, gets driven from city to city, until final disposal. International child trafficking, if it occurs at all, won’t use American children. And won’t cost 15K USD a head. They would buy children that no one cares if they disappear or not, that will never make it to a missing children’s database.

      1. I think it’s unlikely and has definitely gone off the rails, but the company’s already contradicted itself in the pricing excuses.
        Further, the names are a bit odd.
        I don’t put too much stock into the Yandex thing, though the Tom Hanks Instagram post from a few years ago is pretty Inexplicable unless “SRC USA” means something else out there.
        And, perhaps oddest of all, is the collections of books they include in decor photos.
        It’s not all it’s cracked up to be, but it’s more than nothing

  9. Onto China. It’s a challenge to unpack Eric’s take here. Technically, he’s right. But he completely and deliberately ignoring a reality and that reality is China is NOT a good economic partner. Let me start with the last paragraph and move from that point. My argument is Eric and Reason are naively failing to see the bigger picture obsessing over free trade as a panacea.

    “Despite all that evidence to the contrary, Hawley, Trump, Navarro, and others seek to use the coronavirus as a cudgel to smash the system of global trade. They would replace it with an alternative that leaves America less free, less prosperous, and less capable of handling the next crisis.”

    It’s China that’s seeking to smash the system of global trade and reshape in its image and plenty of experts are starting to understand this reality. China is playing a game not built on fair trade but one in which they play the dominant role.

    There’s no doubt America is in a better position than China by most measures including economic, financial, militarily and even demographically. It’s also vastly superior on environmental issues and of course human and animal rights.

    But there is absolutely legitimacy in the idea it’s time to treat China like we did the Soviet Union. China is a COMMUNIST regime and if you care to observe their behaviours specifically in the last 15 years right up to the pandemic, you see they’re getting much more aggressive.

    The theory when I was in university in the 90s was we need a modern ‘Open Door Policy’ to bring China into the realm of liberalized trade. This would, in turn, make China more liberal. Academics and politicians thought they could make them ‘wear suits’ like they did Japan. China wore the suits alright but as a smokescreen.

    We have to recognize this. Forget supply chains, and import/export statistics and all that stuff. There’s a new Cold War and China had declared it years ago. We just didn’t pay attention because of the dollars.

    The main feature that makes China different from the Soviets is they have money. They were smart enough to buy up stakes in so many areas of Western industry. For example, they own 45% of Pirelli and own over 80% of Canada’s potash. This is no good.

    Did Eric pay close attention to how China acted during the pandemic? It was propaganda 101 straight from Lenin and it behooves Western governments to go with their hunch here and understand China isn’t a friend. If they were, they would have notified the world IMMEDIATELY about the pandemic. I would like an investigation as to why this was so.

    We made a Faustian Deal with China and we have to extricate ourselves from it. Yes the intricate supply chains devised will be a challenge to reset but you mean to tell me we can’t do it? Of course we can and we must.

    This pandemic not only nearly ruined my life it DID ruin the lives of millions through a combination of CCP lies and hysterical draconian measures. I look around and see a changed world and we need to get this back and ensure we don’t ever let ourselves be duped by China again. I personally blame 100% the CCP for me being forced onto all sorts of stupid programs to keep my business afloat. Not Trump.

    There’s a book coming out called ‘Hidden Hand’ by a couple of progressive scholars (a Canadiana and Australian). I watched them discuss it at the McDonald-Laurier Institute. Watch it here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftsF10DbJq0

    China’s move to reshape the global trade network with them at the top is real. Not a conspiracy.

    Wake up Reason.

    Put down the joint and man up.

    1. I take back my last line. My buddy is a pothead and he sees through China better than most.

    2. China is not the threat you make them out to be. They’re an oligarchy in which power is held primarily by businesses who use the government (i.e., force) to promote their own interests at the expense of anyone else, primarily the Chinese consumer. It’s natural for such an oligarchy to result in a Mercantalist system, in which the government’s top focus is maintaining a “positive balance of trade”, to export more than they import.

      The Mercantalist idea has been debunked by generations of economists, going back to Adam Smith. (I would go so far as to say that rejecting it is a fundamental part of what it means to be a Libertarian.) Its flaw is the assumption that true wealth resides in money. Its opposite is “classical economics”, rebranded 40 years ago as “supply side economics”–the recognition that true wealth resides in “real things”.

      If Mercantalism is so bad, why are we so concerned about China’s conducting it? What are we worried about? Why do so many seemingly smart people argue that they’re using it to their benefit and our detriment? And why do so many want to emulate them? Part of the answer, I think, resides in the fact that we are also an oligarchy, though not nearly as skewed as China. Our business interests want the same thing. But more importantly, the seductive arguments that underlie Mercantalism (trade deficits are bad, a trade surplus means exporting jobs. etc.) are easy to fall for. And no one’s fallen harder than our beloved president who wants to do to China what they’ve done to us. But what, exactly, have they done? Consistently exported more to us than they’ve imported, using measures such as “currency manipulation”. With policies like that, if we are allowed to conduct ourselves as free people (as we should be so allowed!) then we’ll naturally import more than we export. But that’s good for us and bad for them! We’re the ones that should be willing to play that game forever, not them. What, after all, is the point of exporting anything, if it is not to be able to import something else? And why should we object to a system rigged so as to minimize our exports and maximize our imports? Isn’t it obvious that it benefits us more than them?

  10. Google easily work and google pays me every hour and every week just $5K to $8K for doing online work from home. I am a universty student and I work n my part time just 2 to 3 hours a day easily from home. Now every one can earn extra cash for doing online home system and make a good life by just open this website and follow instructions on this page… CLICK HERE.

  11. The libertarian take ought to begin with the fundamental liberty of contract that each individual possesses. I have a fundamental right to willingly sign a contract with another free individual to exchange whatever goods or services we agree to.

    Can that right be reasonably curtailed under certain specific circumstances? Sure. Selling nuclear weapons to terrorists probably shouldn’t be allowed. Selling stolen property shouldn’t be allowed. Selling military secrets to a declared enemy in wartime shouldn’t be allowed. Selling goods and services that are legal in one jurisdiction but illegal in another can be a challenge. Drugs? Should be allowed. Slaves? Should not be allowed.

    But other than a handful of exceptions, the general principle should be affirmed that individuals have a fundamental liberty of contract. That doesn’t change when the exchange crosses a national border.

    Should an individual in the US trading with an individual in China fall under one of these exceptions? Well, they are not a declared enemy, and the goods being traded under general consideration aren’t ones that fall into the problematic category, like illegal drugs or nuclear weapons.

    Should an individual in the US wishing to trade with an individual in China be prohibited from doing so because the Chinese individual may be a communist? No – even communists have a liberty of contract (even if their own ideology doesn’t recognize such a thing).

    Should an individual in the US wishing to trade with an individual in China be prohibited from doing so because some of that Chinese individual’s investment will be confiscated by the authoritarian Chinese government to serve some unknown, but probably bad, purpose? I don’t think that is enough of a reason to prohibit trade by pre-emptive coercion, but it is certainly a reason for those who are concerned about such things to try to persuade American individuals not to do business with individuals in China. Go right ahead and organize whatever boycotts you wish of Chinese firms. I may even join you in some of them. But it should be voluntary, not based on government fiat.

    1. chem, the flaw in your argument starts with the contract. Why?

      A contract is a legal agreement between two parties, based on honesty, transparency and agreed upon set of rules. China’s behavior? They are dishonest, they cheat, and routinely violate the rules of their agreements [exhibit 1 is the purchasing component of the phase 1 trade agreement where China isn’t even attempting to fulfill].

      When you violate a contract, the rules generally say there is a penalty of some sort. Guess what? Tariffs are an enforcement tool (along with being a foreign policy lever).

      1. When it comes to trade, there is no contact signed with “China”. There are contracts between individuals and businesses. If an individual with whom you signed a contract reneges on that contract, then you should seek redress in an appropriate venue, regardless of whether that individual is in China or in the US.

        China’s behavior? They are dishonest, they cheat, and routinely violate the rules of their agreements

        SOME individuals are dishonest and cheat, sure. And those individuals who were harmed by such dishonesty and cheating should seek redress. I think the WTO is *supposed* to be something like an organization to handle these types of international claims. If it isn’t, then that should be looked at.

        When you say “they cheat” you are painting with an awfully broad brush. Obviously “they” can’t cheat all that much, considering the amount of trade that voluntarily occurs between China and the US on a daily basis.

        1. What legal system judges and enforces those contracts?

          1. That is almost always spelled out as an aspect of the contract. If not, then shame on the signers of the contract for not agreeing on that.

    2. But it should be voluntary, not based on government fiat.

      Normally this is correct. The US has Export Control laws, however that prohibit the export of many technologies to designated countries, largely defense related. These should be expanded to reduce the theft of intellectual property, which is the most dangerous of the trade problems with China.

      1. If we’re talking about *actual* theft of intellectual property, then yes that’s a problem.

        However, a lot of what some complain about “theft” is really a requirement by the Chinese government that in order for a foreign firm to do business there, they had to partner with a domestic firm, and that domestic firm by virtue of that arrangement got access to the foreign firm’s IP. I don’t agree with requirements like that, but, those who did sign up for those agreements had the complete opportunity to say “no”, but chose not to. That type of “theft” is not really theft, more like regret. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for that type of “theft”.

        But I agree broadly, protection of IP is important. I would prefer an international agency be charged with this sort of thing, rather than using tariffs as a blunt instrument.

    3. When I consider such right of contract, I think of court cases where contract alone proved inadequate.

  12. “Protectionism is now infecting the GOP”
    Didn’t Biden just come out with a buy American plan?

    1. Don’t worry, Reason will be releasing an article condemning this plan any day now.

      1. Already done, lying asshole!

        https://reason.com/2020/07/09/even-in-defeat-bernie-sanders-is-pulling-joe-biden-to-the-left/
        Even In Defeat, Bernie Sanders Is Pulling Joe Biden to the Left
        An expansive new batch of policy proposals shows Biden moving toward a more expensive, more intrusive policy agenda.

        WHY do you have to LIE and suck Trump’s dick SOOOO hard, evil scum-bag? Is Trump going to appoint you uber-strum-bahn-fuhrer any day now?

  13. Speaking of 3M, where are N95 masks for the rest of us? They’ve had plenty of time to ramp up production. If we’re going to be wearing masks, can we at least get ones that protect us rather than ones that just partially protect others?

    1. Not even that. The ones they’ve stuck us with make things worse.

  14. How about we don’t trade with countries that use slave labor? There is no free trade with a country whose citizens aren’t free. Much of our country is protesting America’s past with regard to slavery but we are simultaneously trading with a slave state. China should be embargoed until the collapse of the CCP. Opposition to that is a defense of slavery on the grounds that it is good for our economy. That argument wasn’t valid for the north before the civil war, it isn’t valid for America now.

    1. How about we don’t trade with countries that use slave labor?

      That sounds nice and all, but the devil is in the details. Look at the US prison system for example. It’s commonplace for prisoners to be forced to work, for little or no compensation, and it is even explicitly allowed by the Thirteenth Amendment. Is this “slave labor”? Would Europe have a point if they decided to stop trading with the US on this basis?

      Furthermore, there really are just some people out there who really don’t give a shit about where they buy their stuff. Sad but true. I don’t like it, but I also don’t think it is the role of the state to force people to change their ways. If people want to be assholes, they have a right to be assholes without the state mandating nice behavior.

      1. So, which products on Walmart shelves (much less other countries retail outlets) should we be avoiding due to being produced by “slave labor” US prisoners?

        Or are they just doing work for the state?

        Haha. You’re a hoot.

        1. I don’t know. I’m just pointing out what actually happens in prisons.

          Here is an interesting article on the history of prison labor in the US and what it means for today.

          https://confluence.gallatin.nyu.edu/context/interdisciplinary-seminar/prison-labor-in-the-united-states

          1. chem, you made a very serious (outrageous) charge about products made by slave labor in the United States. You were asked a direct question, answer it. “I don’t know” doesn’t cut it.

            Put up or shut up.

            1. Why is it outrageous? If the state is legally allowed to exploit prison labor (and they are, by the Thirteenth Amendment), I am not surprised at all that they do so.

              Too many people around here put the American government on this virtuous pedestal. And while it is not identical to other governments around the world, it is still a coercive entity nonetheless.

              Here is an article that describes products made by prison labor in the US:

              https://www.newsweek.com/prison-slavery-who-benefits-cheap-inmate-labor-1093729

              UNICOR employed almost 17,000 inmates in the 2017 fiscal year. The corporation sold $453.8 million in goods including clothing and textiles, office furniture and electronics during the same period. Almost 4,500 prisoners working for UNICOR in states from Colorado to New Jersey contributed to the clothing and textiles program, which sold over $126 million in products.

              Inmates working for UNICOR earned an average salary of $1,645, but federal and state correctional industries programs promote the financial benefits of their operations, even if they don’t extend to the laborers.

              Products created in state and federal correctional industry positions are sold to an array of government agencies and nonprofits. Nebraska offers license plates, filing cabinets and braille textbooks. Oregon sells park equipment, business cards and embroidered goods. The products encompass a smorgasbord of imaginable industries.

              UNICOR is the government agency that is responsible for managing federal prison labor.

          2. Yes, XY is correct. Post a link that describes what products are made and the facility where they are made.

            Or admit you just made this up.

            1. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/51037/11-products-you-might-not-realize-were-made-prisoners

              11 Products Made by Prisoners
              (besides license plates)

              Books for the blind
              Lingerie
              Park benches and picnic tables
              Military jackets
              Human silhouette targets (that one is a little creepy)
              Baseball caps
              Canoes
              Knick-knacks
              Blue jeans
              Horse training

              I skipped the one that was just about East German prisoners, not relevant to the current discussion.

            2. Read the other link that I posted above. Prison labor has been a thing in this country for over 200 years. It is not this imaginary thing that I made up.

              It was especially cruel on freed slaves after the Civil War. Basically, freed slaves, who were now homeless, were charged with “vagrancy”, sent to prison (after an unfair trial), and then as a condition of their incarceration, forced to work on those same plantations that they had just been freed from. It was unbearably cruel. But it happens in the US. That sort of extreme exploitation of prison labor doesn’t happen NOW, but there is still exploitation nonetheless.

              1. Interesting. The people I know personally who have served time in either federal or local prisons were not involved in any work programs. It’s a good idea to build skills for life after prison. While it is not technically slave labor since they get paid, it meets my threshold for the equivalent exploitation.

                Well done.

                1. And again I’m not saying the US and Chinese governments are equivalent. They’re not. The Chinese government is way worse. But before we start standing on high-minded principles, we should be aware of what our own government is doing.

                  Frankly looking at the Wikipedia page, the US prison system doesn’t seem to be as bad as the Japanese or French system. At least in the US, the items that prisoners make don’t (by and large) end up on the shelves of Walmart. But in Japan and France, prisoners can either work directly for a private company, or make items that are then sold to a private company to increase their own bottom line. And of course being paid a wage that is way below what that labor is worth. That seems way worse to me.

                2. I’m glad this turned into a productive conversation. It is a good change from the usual trolling and spoofing nonsense around here.

    2. How about we don’t trade with slavemasters, like MeisterPeeps for example, who would enslave us all be being THE uber-meister of who all is, and is not, a slavemaster? If MeisterPeeps says that New Mexico, or Texas, or East Dakota, or Bumfuck West Carolina, is a bunch of slavers, then we may NOT trade with them… Because MeisterPeeps the slaver, says so!!!! Heil MeisterPeeps!!!!

  15. While Boehm is right free trade is better, and Trump’s tariffs have cost the US in higher prices, he skipped the fact that Trump said he wants free trade, and is using the tariffs to pressure China to trade more freely and behave better. I respect that far more than Biden who appeared to sell out the US to enrich his son.

    Further, Trump is exporting ventilators and has bragged about it. Meanwhile China quietly bought up PPE before telling the world and banned PPE exports back in January.

    I’d like China to have a civil government, but from what I’ve seen you can’t trust them, and their civil rights are abysmal. They are an unfree country. I guess the real question is how to get them to behave better: make deals profitable to the CCP, or show them the same respect they show us such as in their tariffs. In a way I see tariffs as the tax to get China to increase freedom, which will benefit the world.

    1. That’s an odd way to promote freedom in China: Restrict it on our own citizens.

  16. I believe it was Trump who said he would be willing to lift all tariffs if trading partners were willing to do the same.

    Why is it that the US is the only one that should have no tariffs?

    1. Because progressives hate America and long to be dominated by their far left masters. As they have a severe delusion that supporting this crap will somehow grant them a seat at the table.

  17. We never had serious shortages of ventilators and PPEs, outside of places like NY when they were going through a crisis. And even then it was short lived. Prior to the BLM protest fiasco, medical ships and units were leaving or being dismantled without treating a single patient. Remember all that hysteria about toilet papers? You can buy hand sanitizers online from American companies that are advertising on tv now.

    Stop saying “Yes China bad but Trump.” They are 100% responsible for this outbreak. Does Reason trust whatever the police say after suspicious shootings? “Yes Cops are bad but rioters and executing police and kids are being gunned down” is not something I read at Reason.

    China sent defective medial kits all over the world. Why should we just do business with them as usual? What explains this selective morality at Reason?

    If Trump could shut down entire cities and mandate all citizens who get tested to get tracked over the phone, we might be in better shape. The pandemic is getting worse because Americans value their privacy and freedom way more than most people. And the ruling class just can’t do much about people not wearing masks outside or protesting en masse.

    1. Why should we just do business with them as usual?

      I think you are illustrating part of the problem right here. Why should these trade issues be framed in terms of the collective ‘we’?

      If you do not wish to do business with individuals in China I fully support your right to boycott them all.

      1. I don’t set trade policies with China, the nation does. I can’t trade a case of plutonium for a box of gold to some random North Korean.

        1. The problem is having all-encompassing trade policies that inhibit individuals’ freedom to contract with others of their choice (excepting the small number of cases when that would be desirable).

          Why should there be some ‘trade policy’ which regulates how I may buy sneakers from a Chinese business, or how a Chinese business may buy soybeans from an American farmer?

          We ought to be framing this trade issue in terms of individuals’ freedom of contract, not in terms of ‘trade policies’. That is my point.

          1. Agree!

          2. We ought to be framing this trade issue in terms of individuals’ freedom of contract, not in terms of ‘trade policies’. That is my point.

            So your point is that individuals should have unrestricted freedom of contract with the Chinese government, while they should continue to be severely restricted in their freedom of contract with fellow Americans or American businesses.

          3. Why? Because their citizens are not at peace in continued perception that greater good must emanate from the odd corner of the gun, as if education is not meant to master correct diplomacy and as if trade is not meant to bring benefit to both participants.

      2. Why shouldn’t there be a tax on foreign production?

      3. I think you are illustrating part of the problem right here. Why should these trade issues be framed in terms of the collective ‘we’?

        Because US political decisions are made by a “collective we”, and because the “collective we” imposes massive taxes and operating costs on Americans and American businesses.

        If you do not wish to do business with individuals in China I fully support your right to boycott them all.

        I do not wish to pay US income, capital gains, or sales tax, yet the US government forces me to do so. As long as I have to, I’ll insist that you pay tariffs when you trade with China.

        You pretty consistently want the US government to treat non-citizens better than citizens. Apart from the profound unfairness of your position, you can’t expect US citizens to vote for such crap.

  18. In a perfect world I would agree with you, but as much manufacturing has moved overseas, as hard as I try there are things I need, that I cannot find except those made in China. If that is the case do I really have a choice?

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  21. If you kicked education under the bus, you’ll probably end up with the wishbone story about the corona virus, paranoia about which enemy the proles & bourges of the world belong to who, respectively, want to tax & spend.

    Specifically, the idea that the virus “originated in China” — this political flab may appear to be fact, but surely the virus was between Nature and the microcosmos of microbial material and only struck first in China. I’m claiming no revisionism that China be the perpetrator, but perhaps nations should distance themselves from being involved in spreading smallpox labs during tunes of biological warfare lest one day the unthinkable during this administration’s watch may occur. And on that point, nuclear reactor materials get inspections but not smallpox or coranavirus labs??

    ‘Cytokine storm syndrome’ expresses what so many coronavirus victims die of, and the Washington Post seemed to had taken time to regurgitate any hopeful vittles concerning bats and men turning to them during desperate times for survival clues (“I shall have to crush all you teensie jokers with my superior leaning and nutritional expertise!! “)

    Now we see sort of celebration with lard that pays you back — a two-party assurance that five trillion, though you may know no real, existing person who ever received such monies — has not been spent in vain; aside from sizable shares on people who were not alive to claim it legally. And party is not limited to official duties. This de-terror-ful money makes a big splash into presumed hysteria but reminds gawkers that money talks wherever organized bribery circles reciprocate. Who should control a treasury that has been specifically made to be anything but solvent? Who can possibly control a politician incapable of restraint and all to humbled that the human condition cannot exceed government authority for three seasons of virus distrubutive weather systems?

    Politicization of corona virus #19 calls attention to that major weakness or challenge in America today, to stay focused and to determine from excess info what trash info ends up in the Pacific garbage patch … (though one racism’s trash is another racism’s treasure) … and what deluge source actually matters. Some have actually ended up at the bottom to feed on stories that cannot so imaginably be profitable. It seems that terms of national selection should favor a Darwin awards for top examples of journalism that cannot be profitable … or a nice Pulitizer prize if anyone can dream up such a piece the Michael Foucalt way.

    Healthy people do die … but unhealthy people do not really live.

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  23. I am tired of this pandemic . I wish it ends soon.

  24. “A trade war with China” is not “protectionism”.

    Your own picture contradicts your narrative: notice how most of the parts of the ventilator don’t come from China? Hence, the few parts that do could also be sourced elsewhere if necessary.

    Of course, the reason vital supplies didn’t reach us from China was because China kept them back. That’s what totalitarian regimes do.

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