Free Trade

Biden's Protectionist Trade Agenda Will Increase Prices. In Fact, It Already Has.

Biden says reducing prices is his "top priority" but his economic agenda suggests the opposite.


With annual inflation running higher than it has in 40 years, President Joe Biden announced during Tuesday night's State of the Union address that "my top priority is getting prices under control."

In Biden's telling, rising prices are the result of monopolies and near-monopolies in the economy taking advantage of consumers by jacking up prices. "Capitalism without competition isn't capitalism. It's exploitation—and it drives up prices," he said during Tuesday's address. Later, he promised a "crackdown on these companies overcharging American businesses and consumers."

There's not a lot of evidence to support that diagnosis, but let's just go with it for a moment. If concentration in the marketplace was somehow to blame for rising prices, then it would make sense to attack that problem by expanding competition. Give consumers more choices and they will naturally flock to lower-priced alternatives, putting pressure on other sellers to keep prices down.

The problem, for Biden, is that so much of his economic agenda is pointed in exactly the opposite direction. In one breath, he complains about the lack of consumer choice driving up prices. With the next, he proposes to further restrict consumer choice.

"We will buy American to make sure everything from the deck of an aircraft carrier to the steel on highway guardrails are made in America," Biden said, before promising that his administration would make some of the "biggest investments in manufacturing in American history" to bring about "the revitalization of American manufacturing."

So much for his supposed "top priority."

Even Larry Summers, a top economic adviser in former President Barack Obama's administration, called out Biden for trying to pass off this economically illiterate attempt to combat inflation.

"Shifting demand to American producers with 'Buy America' polices [sic] that stop firms and consumers from buying at the lowest cost, no matter how politically attractive, are inflationary. This is something all economists should agree on," Summers tweeted. "Blaming inflation on corporate greed or holding out the prospect that capacity can be expanded rapidly is at best diversionary."

Biden's "Buy American" policies—which, in fairness, have governed federal purchasing deals for years, though his administration has tightened loopholes and talked up those policies for political gain—are perhaps the best example of how the current White House is fighting its own policies as it tries to combat inflation.

But that's hardly the only one. Tariffs are also contributing to inflation by artificially raising the prices of imported goods, including products like raw steel, aluminum, and lumber that are necessary inputs for American manufacturers and home builders.

Many of those tariffs were already in place when Biden took office, but his administration has expanded, extended, and maintained those price-hiking policies. In November 2021, Biden doubled existing tariffs on Canadian lumber imports. Instead of repealing former President Donald Trump's tariffs on steel imported from Europe, Biden replaced them with a quota system that will keep prices artificially high. Earlier this year, he extended Trump-era tariffs on imported solar panels that were set to expire. There has been no indication that the Biden administration is seriously considering undoing Trump's failed tariffs on Chinese imports—even as it frets about rising prices in the economy.

It's fairly certain that these protectionist policies will continue to put upward pressure on prices, because that's what they have done so far.

"Tariffs imposed by the U.S. government on materials used by the domestic construction sector cause a significant increase in the cost of those goods," argue economists Alessandro Barattieri and Matteo Cacciatore in a paper published last month by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. "These results suggest that lifting trade restrictions on intermediate inputs could help dampen recent increases in U.S. construction material costs."

The two researchers found that costs imposed by trade barriers were passing along nearly in full to consumers. For every 1 percentage point increase in the cost of imported construction materials caused by tariffs, for example, they found domestic price increases of 0.9 percent after six months.

While the study was focused mostly on home prices, other research has shown that much of the cost of Trump administration tariffs on a wider set of imports have also been passed along to consumers. By continuing those policies, Biden is forcing importers, manufacturers, and consumers to continue swallowing higher prices.

It's not just tariffs. As Reason's Scott Shackford highlighted yesterday, other trade restrictions like the Jones Act—which is naked protectionism for America's dismal shipping industry—also contribute to high prices by severely limiting competition. What was that Biden said about wanting to increase competition to lower prices? Abolishing the Jones Act would be a good place to start.

Don't expect relief to come anytime soon. In a 312-page report released this week outlining trade policy goals for the upcoming year, the Biden administration promised a mixture of trade restrictions and domestic subsidies that will variously protect and promote politically connected industries and firms at the expense of consumers and taxpayers. Whatever the merits of the administration's "worker-centric trade policies" might be, reducing inflation—supposedly Biden's "top priority," remember—is unlikely to be one of the consequences.

But the specifics won't add up until the administration can figure out which direction it wants to go at a high level. As Summers pointed out on Tuesday night, there's a clear and obvious tension between Biden's plan to combat inflation and his politically motivated "Buy American" promises.

At one point, Biden helpfully laid out the contradiction in fairly stark terms.

"One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer," Biden said. "I have a better plan to fight inflation. Lower your costs, not your wages."

A lot of American businesses would surely love to lower their costs. Too bad the Biden administration won't help them do it.

NEXT: Don't Cancel Regular Russians

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. He's made it clear -- he wants to control prices, not stop inflation. He thinks turning the furnace thermostat down to 68° is useful when it's already 90° and there is no AC.

    1. OT: An Honest Mistake: Joe Biden’s Face Appears in Live TV Report about Elderly Man Accused of Touching a Young Girl


      1. Yeah a friend sent that to me last night. That's some real laugh-out-loud shit.

        1. [JOIN NOW] I am making a real GOOD MONEY ($200 to $300 / hr.) online from my laptop. Last month I got cheek of nearly 50,000$. this online work is simple and straightforward. Don’t have to go office, Its home online job. ggh You become independent after joining this job. I really thanks to my friend who refer me this:-

      2. I'd love to see him sue for defamation so we could watch all of the ActBlue 50 centers twist themselves into knots about how it is fully right and proper for Biden to be able to "hold the media accountable". Just like how Obama jailing more dissidents under the espionage act than every other president COMBINED was just further proof of his scandal-free and 100% transparent presidency.

  2. "Biden says reducing prices is his "top priority" but his economic agenda suggests the opposite."

    Once again, an honest headline can replace the entire article.

    Biden lies that reducing prices is his "top priority" but his economic agenda clearly states the opposite.

    1. He is a clueless liar.

  3. While I can agree with the sentiment in this article, I don't see anyone really pushing for an alternative. The fact is that economic protectionism is pretty much a staple element of both major political parties. There is not really anyone speaking for open trade. Will free trade be an issue for any race in 2022 or in 2024? I seriously doubt that will happen.

    1. I don't see anyone really pushing for an alternative. The fact is that economic protectionism is pretty much a staple element of both major political parties.

      That's the problem isn't it. Libertarians are pretty consistently against tariffs.

      1. To my mind, tariffs are the least bad option for taxes. The federal government operated off of tariff money along with other various use and excise taxes for over 100 years. Can you imagine it being that small today?

        1. One of the problems with tariffs is that it's clearly a case of government picking winners and losers. Picking the steelworkers union at the expense of people who make things out of steel is bad beyond just the fact that it's a source of revenue.

          The politicians want it this way to appease their donors, another reason why these tariffs are a problem.

          1. Not true. Sometimes it is retaliatory for anti market actions such as corporate theft which raises security costs and development costs on the country being attacked.

            Not everything is freshman level economics.

            1. Not everything is freshman level economics.

              Not every one of your perceived injustices can or should be solved by the government. It's strange having to make that argument on a libertarian website.

              1. What is? Realizing wr don't live in ideal circumstances where everyone acts ideally? I noticed you ignored the issue completely as usual.

                What is your solution to billions of dollars in corporate theft and billions spent on security? Difficulty. You have to admit it happens.

                1. I admit it happens. Most instances of "corporate theft" are either due to US firms hiring Chinese nationals or a cost of doing business enter the Chinese market. I don't like either, but those are choices that companies make.

                  If they have a case, go after the individuals responsible through the legal system and international trade commission or the WTO. It's hard for me to justify raising the prices on American consumers because Apple chose to manufacture and sell iPhones in China and got IP stolen. It's impossible for me to accept central planning as a preferred solution to any economic problem because it quite simply never works and always leads to corruption.

                  Trump was using the issue to attack China because it's what he said he would do in the election. It was mere legal convenience to invoke section 301 and not need to go through Congress. Just like his initial tariffs to bail out the steel and aluminum workers were based on #NationalSecurity, another favorite of authoritarian Presidents who can't get their way through normal legislative channels. I'm sorry you fell for it.

                  1. Wow. Talk about non sequitur. Chinas government not only ignores the actions of corporate theft, they actually encourage it. Again. Billions of dollars. Lawsuits through the WTO do not do anything to recompense domestic companies for these expenses. So you have one country actively working and acting in anti free market actions with costs born on others. And your solution is to ignore it or use strongly worded letters to change it. It is sophomoric thinking.

                    1. The libertarian solution to global oligarchy has always been "do nothing", because "libertarianism" is a name invented in the 1970s by the wealthy donor class to use as a vehicle for pursuing their ambitions of a globalist oligopoly.

            2. Riiiight ... the pro-tariff argument usually runs like this:

              China is subsidizing its exports to us by taxing its citizens to lower our prices. We must retaliate by taxing our citizens so we pay more. That'll teach 'em!

              China is restricting our exports to their citizens, hurting their citizens, so we must retaliate by refusing to let our citizens by Chinese exports.

              Both betray an astonishing ignorance of basic economics. Dollars out have to equal dollars in. If China gets $1000 from something they sell to an American, they HAVE TO buy $1000 worth of goods from America, even if that sales is processed through hundreds of other transaction in other countries. The only alternative is that China burns those $1000 to light their opium pipes.

              You probably think there is an overall trade deficit too, and a China-specific trade deficit especially.

              Trades are voluntary, by definition. If I buy a Chinese screwdriver, it is because I want to; if I don't buy an American screwdriver, it is because I don't want to. You are not anywhere close to a libertarian if you think it is righteous for the government to control my buying and selling.

          2. One of the problems with tariffs is that it's clearly a case of government picking winners and losers.

            A blanket tariff on all imported goods, or tariffs at a consistent rate across a particular industry or basket of goods, does not put a thumb on the scale in any way, shape or form. Tariffs are among the least disruptive ways you can raise tax revenue, which is why Marxist fuckboys who name themselves after the alcoholic gigolo supervillain from a Rand novel are so vehemently against them while insisting that we should instead impose taxes in the most market distorting way possible: through consumption and income tax.

            1. A blanket tariff on all imported goods, or tariffs at a consistent rate across a particular industry or basket of goods, does not put a thumb on the scale in any way, shape or form.

              True. But we don't have that. Instead we have tariffs applied to a whole laundry list of goods. Do I really have to link to the ridiculous list of goods that Trump applied tariffs to?

              Whenever you have power-hungry politicians with the power to apply any taxes in an uneven manner you end up with cronyism in order to raise money from interests. That's true of income taxes, tariffs, any tax really.

          3. Does it have to be? Is it wrong for the American government to prioritize American companies over foreign ones?

            I mean, the government is never going to stop collecting taxes, I’d prefer they operate with user fee types (gas or car registration) and tariffs then taxing me for having the audacity of starting my own business and trying to support my family.

      2. They are also against recognizing anti free market actions by other countries that often have more deleterious effects on the market than tariffs do.

        1. You're arguing that we have to be anti free market in order to beat those anti free market fureigners?

          If you're making that argument you're probably not a libertarian. Only central planning can save us!

          1. I'm arguing you can't be a fucking idiot.

            Economics isn't a Jesus parable. If someone is punching you in the face you don't ignore it and just pay the increased cost from medical bills.

            Again. You seem to be pushing freshman level economics.

            If the mob is stealing televisions form Best Buy and opens up a Best Buyer to sell them at 60% discount do you also say police shouldn't look into the theft or government shouldn't shut them down?

            Youre simply laughably naive to reality because you want to remain in a simplistic model that requires no thought.

            1. No instead it's people like you who dismiss the basic tenets of economics as sophomoric because you don't like the consequences. I've read about a million times you arguing against socialism on these pages because of simple economic facts. But as soon as your pet authoritarian wants to dabble in a little economic central planning suddenly the world becomes more complex. It's a trick used by authoritarians through the ages. Meanwhile the basic laws of any science, including economics, hold true whether you think the world is more complex or not.

              Gravity is freshman level physics, the world is more complex than that... says every flat earther who can't bear the reality that gravity itself isn't compatible with their world view.

              1. Lol. Again with a non sequitur because you can't argue from a non ideal stance. Tariffs aren't socialism dumbass. Especially if they are retaliatory.

                Nothing China sells is exclusive to China. Trying to recompense increased spending or corporate theft through taxes is not socialism. By any measure. It can also induce supply shifts to other suppliers like SK or others.

                I love you bring up freshman level physics and a base concept like gravity. Do you want freshman designing the airplane you fly in? Yet you use idealistic forms of freshman level economics in complex global trade. It is fucking hilarious Leo.

                1. I love you bring up freshman level physics and a base concept like gravity. Do you want freshman designing the airplane you fly in? Yet you use idealistic forms of freshman level economics in complex global trade.

                  I don't need to go beyond freshman level physics to know that the earth is not flat.

                  I don't need to go beyond freshman level economics to know that markets are more efficient than central planning.

                  You can "yeah, but" all that you want. You can even argue that you like the intentions of this version of central planning (although you won't do so in those terms, you are literally making that argument). But you can't convince too many people with a rational economic view that central planning is more efficient than markets no matter how hard you try, because even you don't believe it in general. That was my point with "I've read about a million times you arguing against socialism on these pages because of simple economic facts." I wasn't equating tariffs to socialism, I only brought it up as an example to prove that you argue against central planning all the time with very basic, "freshman-level" economic arguments.

              2. Gravity is freshman level physics, the world is more complex than that... says every flat earther who can't bear the reality that gravity itself isn't compatible with their world view.

                Good god this is embarrassing, even for you. Gravity *is* freshman level physics, and the people most likely to be mentioning that fact are professional physicists trying to explain things like quantum entanglement to a general or freshman-level audience, not flat-earthers having a big sad that their theory isn't compatible with gravity.

              3. The effects of gravity, at it's most basic principle is freshman physics. But any physicist will tell you, we really don't understand how physics works. And it's impacts are far more complex than what you learn in freshman physics. Trying to oversimplify an argument is almost guaranteed to result in a weak argument.

          2. I also question whether you took even freshman level econ because you seem ignorant to supplier shifts.

            1. I'm 99% convinced Leo is another sarcasmic sock, given that they both regurgitate literally the exact same word-for-word slogans and use the exact same elementary examples found in Economics In One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt, a man with no education or training in economics. The only thing that makes me believe they may be different people is that Leo hasn't slipped up and accidentally posted a word-for-word Sqrsly copypasta like every other one of sarcasmic's socks has. I guess it's possible for two people to be equally stupid and equally unawares.

  4. Brandon says a lot of things he doesn't mean. And what was with Pelosi standing up at the wrong times & rubbing her hands together with a creepy witch grin on her face?

    1. And what was with Pelosi standing up at the wrong times & rubbing her hands together with a creepy witch grin on her face?

      Sounds like psyops to normalize Joe.

      1. creepy-ops

  5. Yes onshoring production will raise prices/inflation.

    Events of the last few years illuminate that maybe low prices are not the end all be all.

    1. Exactly.
      Low prices at the cost of slavery is not a good idea.

    2. "Let the Market adjudicate the border. When wages drop below $2 an hour, America will no longer be a desirable destination!"

  6. promising that his administration would make some of the "biggest investments in manufacturing in American history"

    Nothing says 'we adamantly oppose crony capitalism' like government money flowing to crony capitalists.

    1. How does one sell out and get on that crony gravy train? Asking for a friend.

      1. If you have to ask, you can’t.

    2. I wonder how many of the contracts the state of Utah has are with Mormon owned businesses?

      Your church is king of crony capitalism you moron.

      1. Are you against the ownership businesses? There isn't any issue to your claim (if it's true), only your bigotry. Reported.

  7. Joe Biden announced ... that "my top priority is getting prices under control."

    It's like there's no one alive who remembers how it went last time. He is gonna eat these words every single day until he's booted out in '24.

    1. Neutered in 22; he will be so busy vetoing republican legislation to do what he says he wants to do he won't have time to change his Depends.

  8. Lol. Called this article yesterday including throwing Trump in there despite it not being necessary.

  9. Biden is continuing Trump's trade policies! He's a true libertarian!

    1. And he’s rolling over for China too! So a real win-win for Biden supporters.

      1. What matters is that he's continuing Trump's true libertarian policies on trade. Go Biden! Keep doing what Trump did! It makes you awesome!

        1. Finally sarc has his win. Showing his biden preference didn't change anything! Oh wait. They aren't tariffs based on the same impetus. One is purely protectionist. The other was largely retaliatory for market actions by others.


          1. My central planning is more noble than your central planning.

            1. You can just say you aren't invested in reality. And don't care about real free markets because you don't care if non US actors are anti free market.

              Would save you some embarrassment.

              And it isnt central planning to cut off a country committing open theft dummy. What ridiculousness.

              1. It is central planning for a government to artificially adjust the price of goods in order to affect the market. You just don't want to admit what you're apparently in favor of.

                1. It is central planning for a government to artificially adjust the price of goods in order to affect the market.

                  A tax is not a "price adjustment" and whoever gave you that quip owes you a refund. All you're doing here is telegraphing that you prefer "price adjustments" that are more market-disrupting, like consumption, income and "sin" taxes. Unless you're trying to pretend you're an anarchist today, in which case, you should probably be made aware that every post you've ever made on this website since you started about 7 years ago is visible to the public.

                  1. A tax is not a "price adjustment" and whoever gave you that quip owes you a refund.

                    Well this may be the dumbest argument yet. Of course the whole point of these tariffs against Chinese goods or whatever are price adjustments. That's the whole entire point. Arbitrarily adjust the prices of foreign goods to American consumers so that American producers can compete. If they weren't intended to increase the prices of foreign goods then how would they ever accomplish their goal of propping up domestic industries?

  10. As I have often told the Trump Cultists here I give both Biden and Trump an "F" as POTUS.

    But I will upgrade Biden to a "D" if he does this from last night:

    State of the Union: Biden vows to cut deficit by $1 trillion by end of the year

    Granted, it would be easy for any fiscally responsible government.

    But this one is not.

    1. Cut spending or cut the deficit? One is libertarian, the other is most likely anti-libertarian. Care to guess which one Biden will pick?

      1. It’s a ducking gimmick. Obama did the same thing with the Dems pumping up spending, then bitching when the Republicans took control and passed sequestration, then taking credit for reducing the deficit from its high water mark that the Democrats were responsible for in the first place.

        1. You're full of shit as usual.

          Sequestration was a product of Obama and Boehner meeting alone and working out a spending cut and tax cut compromise. Boehner had to keep "the crazies" in the GOP out of the loop.

          Spending with Obama was the lowest increase since Eisenhower. That is why the defict was reduced by $800 billion in the Obama years.

          1. Just because I love beating your ass so much with this every time you try to lie about it:

            The Democrats didn't pass a budget for three years, just continuing resolutions to keep the money flowing. They added the supposed one time spending as the new baseline, keeping the budget above $4Trillion for the next three years (

            So no, fuck you, you don't get to increase spending to $4.43Trillion then act all fucking magnanimous when the other party forces you to lower spending to $3.99Trillion (which, let's be fucking honest, is still a shit ton more than they should have been spending). At best you can take credit for lowering it from $4.43 to $4.26. But that would be like bragging about the price of gas going down 3 cents in a week and a half.

            1. "But that would be like bragging about the price of gas going down 3 cents in a week and a half."

              Which they also did.


            2. He also didn't remove TARP which had payouts in 2008 and 09 but returned payments 2010-12.

          2. Spending with Obama was the lowest increase since Eisenhower.

            The public debt more than doubled, and his first 3 years of budgets were over 1 trillion dollars before he saved the world by cutting them to 700 billion dollars, only after being dragged by his ankles by the newly-installed Republican congressional majority. You guys really, REALLY need to figure out some talking points that date from some point after the Clinton administration. You've been playing this gambit ever since Clinton's phony "budget surplus", which was actually an accounting gimmick created by Newt Gingrich.

            Maybe if you spent less time plying your skills of persuasion against recalcitrant children who spurn your sexual advances, your argumentation might improve. Just a though. Or, on the other hand, you could consider publicly eviscerating yourself after apologizing to the victims of your sexual abuse, including the children depicted in the hardcore pedophile pornography you posted here at, getting your first Sarah Palin's Buttplug account banned.

            Either way though, up to you. Something to think about.

            1. *first 3 years of budget deficits

    2. "As I have often told the Trump Cultists here I give both Biden and Trump an 'F' as POTUS."

      LOL! Nice try, Impostor Buttplug.

      Like, obviously your gimmick is to make Real Buttplug look like a sloppy hack with no sense of internal consistency at all. But you need to be a little more subtle for the act to have any chance of working.

      Seriously. What kind of braindead moron would give a President the lowest possible grade while praising that very same President for creating literally the strongest economy in US history as measured by key metrics like rig count and the Warren Buffett Net Worth Index — all while inflation is nonexistent (besides spittin' tobaccy).


      1. OK, I suppose MAYBE a President could be great for the economy and still get an "F" if his foreign policy is abysmal. But again, Real Buttplug has made it clear that's not the case with Biden.

        In fact, those last few weeks in Afghanistan were either a total non-issue ("SLOPPY PULLOUT!!!!!") ........ or a catastrophic humiliation that should be blamed entirely on Drumpf.


    3. Lol. No you haven't. You constantly defend biden such as your claims of no inflation. Only when in a corner do you claim you attack both.

      1. I'm not in a corner, you moron. And I have always said Biden is in over his head.

        1. Then you cite 5 instances of ypu doing so? I can cite dozens of times you saying there is no inflation, he increased energy exploration, etc.

    4. Poser SPB2....Who kidnapped 'SPB2' and replaced her with you?! = I give both Biden and Trump an "F" as POTUS 🙂

      1. I'm in the "both parties suck" camp. I don't know how you missed that.

        1. No you aren't. You wouldn't spend so much time defending the left if you were.

        2. No, you're a standard issue demhag.

          1. And a linker of kiddie porn.

  11. Can we mention the fact that the only reasons Canadian timber and European steel is cheaper than American timber and steel is because they subsidize both industries so heavily that the companies can actually run at a loss and remain profitable? Let's not pretend that this is even close to free trade. Also, most of these countries have even stricter regulations to control or even forbid American imports. You can't have free trade if the other guys is having their governments put their fingers heavily on the scale.
    The biggest thing that jumps out at me, in all his proposals wasn't a single mention of reducing regulations that raise the cost for American manufacturers and workers. Tariffs are bad, so is pretending that we would have free trade with ultra protectionist countries. Subsidies aren't the answer, neither may be tariffs, and the Jones Act is entirely counterproductive. Libertarians, however, need to offer solutions other than "muh cheap goods". Most people realize the problem, pretending it isn't happening is totally pointless. If you don't want populism and protectionism, first admit the problem.

    1. Can we mention the fact that the only reasons Canadian timber and European steel is cheaper than American timber and steel is because they subsidize both industries so heavily that the companies can actually run at a loss and remain profitable? Let's not pretend that this is even close to free trade.

      So what? Unless you're an American worker in one of those industries, you're likely going to benefit from Canada and Europe subsidizing exports with tax dollars. Means cheaper stuff for us. A few thousand Americans are hurt, but hundreds of millions benefit.

      1. So fuck the American worker because it benefits you? And how much does it actually benefit you? Manufacturing is a national defense issue, dependency on foreign power allows them to dictate to you. Also, domestic manufacturing results in less people on welfare, less need for government to step in and provide support to impoverished areas. So, we can either allow these industries to go extinct stateside, and pay with our taxes to support everyone who is impacted, or we can admit the problem and actually work towards fixing it. The it doesn't impact me because I don't work in those industries is not only lacking empathy (which won't help libertarians convince people to follow them) but it also isn't even a realistic take.
        I know you'll just argue against welfare, but that argument is even weaker if we wipe out whole industries.
        You aren't arguing free trade, you are arguing mercantilism. Free trade means everyone competes without government interference. So don't call yourself a free trade advocate if your only argument is "muh cheap goods". It is counterproductive and isn't even true capitalism. What it is is entirely selfish, and like most selfishness doesn't actually improve the situation, it just transfers the bad to another area.

        1. Sarc is a proponent of "the greater good" theory. Problem with that way of living is, people become expendable, in service to "the greater good."

          The additional problem with Sarc is that he only sees the immediate benefit- cheap timber- and can't see the second and third order effects of policies.

          1. Like I said, it isn't for the greater good because the risks and negative outcomes just gets transferred to everyone else, just in a more stealthy manner.

            1. Like you said, second and third order effects. I didn't even mention national defense. If you rely on foreign trade to drive your economy you have to have a strong military and use it to protect your overseas interests. Our first two foreign wars were over mainly foreign trade, the Quasi-War against France and the War of 1812. It is the entire reason the US Navy was recreated.

              1. I don't buy the national defense argument either. There's a word for self-sufficiency. It's poverty. Trade is good. Even trade with enemies. I don't buy the argument that if we buy subsidized lumber from Canada, and war breaks out, that we won't have any more wood. That's laughable. Sorry.

                1. Just because you choose to ignore the implications doesn't make them any less true. If you depend on other countries you make yourself a hostage or you must maintain a strong international military presence to protect those international interests.

                  1. I get your point of view. I just don't agree. Self sufficiency is the road to poverty, and maintaining an international military presence is somewhat bullying. That and so many goods and services are fungible. If one supply is cut off, another can be found. Or the same supply with a detour. I'll agree to disagree.

                    1. Yes, because hurting the oil industry means being beholden to Putin. And then we get Ukraine. This isn't true of commodities. Some places will always have some form of natural advantage. The US doesn't lack in just about any commodities production, we just have allowed the processing of these commodities to either away to the point where we depend upon others for the refinement. It would be better if we refined and manufactured in the US. It would expand the tax base and increase GDP. It would result in less need for welfare (or make it easier to argue to others welfare isn't needed). That would go a long ways towards reducing our budget. It would also be a stronger argument for more isolationist foreign policies.

                2. Nobody ever accused you of not being a simpleton.

          2. Is this about me or about what I said? If what I said is wrong, tell me how. Convince me. If all you can do is say things about me as a person then that means you have nothing of value to add to the conversation, like the trolls I have on mute. If you want to join them, just ask.

            1. I didn't attack you. And I also made arguments about why you are mistaken.

              1. That comment was to Cronut, not you.

                1. But he didn't attack you, he simply said that you are the greater good and refuse to see second and third order impacts. Which doesn't seem mistaken. I've given you plenty of second and third order impacts and you either ignore them or say go back to but cheap goods benefits me. Only in the short run. If you ignore all the impacts besides the people who get laid off.

                  1. I'll use agriculture for example, because it's the one I know the best. Timber is very close to agriculture on these numbers as well. For every dollar earned in direct agriculture, there is a $7 dollar multiplier to the community. For tourism it's something like $2-$3. So you reduced the tax base and economy by over 50% for the entire community. If it is a statewide industry, that is a substantial impact on the whole state. I use tourism as an example because that is what most often replaces timber and agriculture. And that is only if the town has something that tourists want to see or do that is unique. Not every timber town will become a tourist attraction. And moving isn't always an available option. If you own property, you have to sell it in order to move, but if there is no industry, you have very few buyers. So you have to sell at a loss, which often means you still owe the bank money, and now have to finance a relocation and find a job that you are qualified for.
                    I lived through this when silver crashed in the 1980s. Yeah, the mines shut down and about a decade later a big ski resort was built, but my parent's hometown is still pretty much devastated economically. My Dad made $25,000 a year working for Bunker Hill in 1983 when he was laid off. The average income today in those towns is still close to $25,000. Tourism didn't replace the industry. And the biggest reason silver collapsed was because of market manipulation. Subsidies and trade restrictions are also market manipulation. It's just governments doing it.

                  2. How someone could have lived the last 2 years and not seen the costs associated with supply chain risks from foreign countries is astounding to m.

            2. MUTE HIS ASS!

        2. Unilateral free trade is still better than the alternative.

          It's a matter of point of view. If you look at it from the point of view of the consumer, even unilateral free trade is beneficial because it lowers prices. That means more money for other stuff.

          If you look from the point of view of the business or worker, then yeah imports suck. Especially if they are cheaper. Of course they don't want competition. That means they have to compete too.

          As far as jobs go, it's not like there's a static number of jobs out there so when imports replace factories nothing replaces those jobs. Human wants are boundless. Having manufacturing jobs go overseas means human hands are being freed to serve other wants.

          1. Youre not arguing for free trade. Youre arguing to ignore anti free market actions by other countries and bend over.

          2. Great. A troll arrived to lay a turd on every one of my comments. Way to ruin the neighborhood. Ass.

            1. His point is not trolling. You seem to classify anyone disagreeing with you as trolling.

              1. I don't read anything JesseAZ says. All conversations with him degrade into conversations about me as a person, not what I said. He is a pig. To converse with him is to roll in the mud with a pig. I get dirty and he enjoys it. So fuck him.

                1. Many say the same about you.

                  1. I'll get back to you when I give a shit.

                    1. The fact is that trolling tends to be in the eye of the beholder. You don't like it when you have it happen to you. If others think you do the same thing it may be worth some self reflection. Not giving a shit isn't really an answer. It just is deflection. It's no different than not giving a shit about lost industries and the very real cost to society as a whole.

                    2. Haha, sarc engaging in self reflection? Good one soldier.

                2. Yes. And I love how big an idiot you look like every time you cry out in victim hood.

          3. But it isn't unilateral free trade is my point. Did you miss the part where I said they subsidize these products and restrict American exports? That isn't free trade.

            1. Unilateral free trade means a government doesn't impose trade barriers on its own people. It can't control other governments.

              1. That isn't free trade. That is mercantilism. Free trade can only occur if it is bilateral.

                1. My understanding of mercantilism is government policies designed to protect merchants. Like protectionism. Looking at the economy not from the point of view of the consumer, but of that of the business. Mercantilism supports domestic industry at the expense of consumers. So I disagree with what you're saying. I could be wrong. Happens a lot.

                  1. But isn't failing to address Canada or the EUs unfair trade practices also protecting the businesses, because it benefits the construction industry, it benefits the lumber stores. It hurts the consumers that depend upon the industries destroyed. The prices are artificially low, so it benefits a few, but many more end up paying the price.

      2. "A few thousand Americans are hurt..."

        And that's a sacrifice you're willing to make.

        1. Why not protect all industries from competition? Outlaw mechanization. Outlaw imports. Outlaw competition. Take a snapshot of the economy and keep it exactly like that. Then no one is sacrificed, right?

          1. Or offer actual competitive based solutions not mercantile arguments but actual free trade. If someone steals one of my calves and sells it to you cheaper, than is that free trade? You make out, but at my expense. Subsidized industries and foreign protectionism that blocks US manufacturing from being able to compete is theft. They're stealing the ability for American companies to compete. It actually impacts everyone. It results in higher taxes for all tax paying Americans, because those jobs aren't being replaced with equivalent paid jobs.

            1. It doesn't matter how many times you use a simple example of why their free trade arguments to ignore other actors don't work. Such as your calf example. They were raised on simplistic idealism and not reality. They aren't deep thinkers. Once reality is brought in their thoughts become worthless.

              You are far more patient than I am.

      3. Also, think about income taxes. These are major industries in many states. The loss of income taxes and corporate taxes would require those states to transfer those taxes onto others. So, it impacts a fuck ton more people than you think.

        1. You assume no new industries arise. That people are left out in the cold and nothing else happens. I don't agree with that assumption.

          1. If that proved true we wouldn't have the rust belt, and impoverished timber towns throughout the American west. Reality is these areas aren't going to attract other industries, often because of their locations. I've seen it in real time.

            1. I see it too. Yet people find work. They move. They start new businesses. The enemy isn't imports, it's apathy.

              1. No, many don't, because they can't move. They have investments in that community that they can't easily liquidate, property being a big one. Look at Kellogg, ID. It's on I-90, it's 35 miles from Coeur d'Alene. It hasn't yet recovered from the silver bust in the early 1980s, and many of the families my parent's knew stayed around not because of apathy but because moving wasn't an option. We did give the bank back our trailer, and we could do that because we didn't own land with it. We still ended up paying off that trailer for ten years afterwards. Which really hurt us. But someone who owned actual real estate would have been selling at a loss, if they could even find a buyer and would still owe the bank. My Dad had a marketable skill, he was a boiler operator, but for a gypo miner what marketable skill did they have?

              2. Yay, they got a minimum wage job at Wal-Mart!

                But more seriously, you're still talking about huge societal costs for the possibility of getting cheaper goods. All soldiermedic is saying is that we should consider those costs as well.

                1. Funnily enough, I referred to the Silver Valley in Idaho above (Kellogg, ID) and two of the biggest non tourist related jobs are working at the Walmart supercenter in Smelterville and the Dave Smith's auto dealerships. The other is working for the EPA, or one of their contractors and the USFS. Doubt most libertarians would be happy about these latter two jobs.

                  1. I actually don’t have a huge problem with the Forestry Service, probably cause I’ve never had to deal with them.

                    Fuck the EPA with Joe Biden’s dick though.

                    1. I have mixed feelings, most at the local level aren't bad, it's the same with the USDA. It's their bosses that usually make those agencies so hated by locals, the same with BLM. Most of the ones at the local level don't have much use for their bosses either. They live in the community and most have degrees in the fields they manage and they can see how the higher ups policies hurt the communities and how they often don't address the actual problem they're created to address.

                    2. My good friend and ranching mentor is retiring from the NRCS in June. He is counting down the days. He says it just isn't worth staying any longer, that when they had more local control he felt he helped farmers and ranchers improve their business while also helping them improve their environment, especially soil health, but now it's gotten to much one size fits all, push programs that he knows don't actually help and aren't science based.

                    3. Actually they've lost all their long time range cons/soil specialists in the past two years, he's the last one. And all for the same reason he is choosing to retire.

                    4. The meat grinder that is the government sector is ridiculous.

          2. New industries also arise when tariffs are in place due to reactive actions from anti free market actions. There is nothing China makes that is exclusive. Yet you choose to ignore their anti free market actions and supply shifts but use it to defend losses to a country from supply shifts.

            It is utterly amazing.

      4. And don't play the buggy whip game, because these industries aren't threatened by technology. In fact US manufacturing is probably the most technological advanced of any of these nations because just to remain even close to competitive the American producers have had to invest heavily in technology. No, they are threatened by uncompetitive foreign practices.

        1. What's the practical difference between imports being cheaper because of improved technology or because of government subsidies? Subsidies are just another comparative advantage. If foreign governments want to make their taxpayers pay to make stuff cheaper for us, why not?

          1. But the point is, we pay more in taxes because of the loss of good paying jobs. Yes, you can replace it to some degree with tourism, in the case of timber towns but the jobs pay a hell of a lot less and are seasonal. Which means everyone else makes up for those lost taxes. If subsidies equals free trade you must be arguing for US subsidies too? If not, than they are an unfree trade practice. You making a mercantile argument not a free trade capitalist argument. Free trade means no government giving an advantage to their industries.

            1. I've got things to do so this will be my last comment for a while.

              And I really appreciate your civility. Others could learn from it.

              I understand free trade to mean governments not getting in the way with people trading goods and services across political borders.

              Unilateral free trade means one government doesn't erect barriers while the other does.

              From the point of view of the consumer, unilateral free trade is better than having one's government interfere with your ability to do business with others. Regardless of what the other guy's government does.

              This was a good conversation. Have a great day.

              1. Unilateral free trade is an oxymoron.

                1. You've made good points on other threads, and I want to respond, but I really have stuff to do. Again, thank you for disagreeing with what I said without attacking me as a person. And have a great day.

          2. And you ignore when imports are cheaper due to blatant theft and increased domestic security costs to protect against said theft.

            Youre excusing foreign anti free market actions.

          3. The other countries protectionism isn't actually helping us though.

  12. The argument I keep hearing from the Left is that inflation is just being caused by "corporate greed". Uh-huh. Every business in the country became greedy at exactly the same time, right when Biden took office. Yeah, that's a persuasive argument.

    1. I've been listening to podcasts about inflation, and so far not a one has mentioned the increase in the money supply. No, it's all about greedy companies raising prices which causes workers to demand better pay which increases costs resulting in increased prices which causes workers to demand better pay...

      Never once have I heard someone mention that when you have more dollars chasing the same goods and services, that the value of the dollars drops.

      1. Because the money supply increased more in other years and there was no inflation.

        Remember 2009-2011 here? All the goldbugs were talking hyperinflation due to massive amount of QE.

        1. There are about a million things that affect inflation.

          To deny the money supply has no affect on prices is to deny one of the most basic tenets of economics. Supply and demand set prices. Affect either and prices adjust accordingly.

          1. Of course money supply is a factor.

            I watched part of Powell's testimony today. They kept using a formula that implied money supply was about 20% of the cause of the current inflation spike.

            1. Thankfully, the only inflationary effect was the harmless 10¢ price increases on a pouch of spittin tobaccy.

        2. Money supply relative to available goods and services. If the economy expands than so should the money supply. Adding trillions of dollars to the economy without producing anything is only going to lower the currency value.

      2. So grew the economy so there's more production. Diversity the energy sector so there's more choice and competition.

        1. Grow

          1. But diversifying is not an overnight solution. You can do both, it's not an either or situation.

            1. Competition is hard.

              1. But the point is that we aren't even competing. We can produce cheaper oil while also diversifying our energy production. We can attempt to address non-competitive trade practices while also investing in our own industries. I don't necessarily mean the government needs to directly subsidize anything, but it is often a huge roadblock and maybe tax incentives may not be such a bad thing. I know Reason argued against them, as subsidies but are direct subsidies the same as indirect subsidies? If we let companies keep more of their own money by building and expanding manufacturing, it actually results in a larger tax base. I'd much rather let our own companies keep more of their own money, or even foreign companies that invest in US based manufacturing, than in paying subsidies or welfare or boosting the economy of foreign adversarial nations. Especially if it reduces the possibility of a foreign war.

  13. Maybe the idea on tariffs is to give our people the space they need to build manufacturing capacity here with the expectation that the new competition from the revitalized industry will compete with foreign manufacturers and lower costs ultimately?

    1. That is only if those countries stop the non-competitive practices. As long as the restrict American exports and subsidize their industries, US manufacturing will always be at a disadvantage. Add in all the stupid, job killing, often repetitive, and often conflicting, and cost consuming regulations, and we simply can't be competitive. Tariffs are a feel good measure that doesn't actually foster competition. Until we address the underlying problem, we can't fix it.

  14. This is why Trump was never a real Republican and was not remotely a conservative. Trump changed his party FIVE TIMES for political gain and adopted insanely stupid policies like trade protectionism and tariffing OUR OWN ALLIES and destroying ALLIED TRADE ALLIANCES at the same time he was in his trade war with China. So it is no surprise that RINO Trump's terrible trade policies are continued by populist-protectionists people on the left.

    1. Trump was always a con man.

      1. Pot, meet kettle.

  15. There's a specialty steel mill in the town where I live. In 2012 they were begging for Obama to put a tariff on imported steel. Trump put the exact tariff on steel that they were begging for and they came out against it. Why? Unions. That's all Biden did with this. He kissed Union ass. If it isn't the Teacher's Union having a say in the CDC's COVID mandates, it's giving a tax break on the purchase of electric vehicles. Only certain Union made electric vehicles.

  16. "Trump's failed tariffs on Chinese imports"

    failed? would the deficit really be the same size without those tariffs?

    if anything, we've discovered they were far too low

    deficit is now the largest in history and includes a lot of slave labor

    at some point even the most ardent free traders have to throw up their hands, or just throw up

    China has little choice but to ratchet up the trade deficit to pay for the combination of capital flight and pouring several times the OECD per capita average concrete amidst a real estate crash that seems to be unraveling like a Ponzi scheme

  17. Reasons it makes sense to incentivize American manufacturing: It prevents world events from disrupting supply chains to America. It provides jobs to Americans. It gives something for American industry to do other than vacuum up human data in social media apps and use it to market Chinese goods back to us. It's good politics for your downtrodden midwesterner.

    Reasons it doesn't make sense: Some multinational corporations won't get access to as much cheap child labor.

    Does that about cover it?

    No need to wonder which thing libertarianism prioritizes.

    1. I almost agree with you. We probably disagree probably on how to incentivize American manufacturing, but we seem to agree on it being beneficial for the country.

      1. It's far from my biggest issue. I'm looking ahead to a post-work post-scarcity economy, after all.

        1. I’m sure we can get there. Any year now.

          1. Not with that attitude.

            1. It would be the biggest detrimental thing to happen to the human race you can imagine. Stress is necessary as for both biological and mental health. Removing all stressors won't make people happier or healthier. The more free time people have, the more goods and stability they have is directly correlated to increases in poor health and poor mental health. Of course to much stress is a bad thing, but so is to little.

            2. That is a major theme even of star trek, where technology has eliminated scarcity and the need to work. People see it as some utopia, but the storylines almost always resolve around the conflicts that occur because of these conditions, especially TNG and beyond.

            3. Tony, we are already in a post-scarcity economy. In the US and Europe, all basic human needs are more than taken care of, for anybody who wants them taken care of.

              But here is an economic lesson: as needs are satisfied, people invent more needs. Like the "need" for high speed Internet, or the "need" for being addressed by one's preferred pronouns. That's why, to people like you, we will never exist in a post-scarcity economy: your greed is endless.

        2. It's far from my biggest issue. I'm looking ahead to a post-work post-scarcity economy, after all.

          By historical standards we are already there. That's why traditional socialism and Marxism are dead.

          That's why the left now complains about "inequality" and the fact that blacks on average have fewer TVs and slower Internet speeds than whites.

    2. No need to wonder which thing libertarianism prioritizes.

      No reason to wonder which thing progressives and leftists prioritize: access to slave labor in communist regimes and flooding the US with low cost third world labor and products.

      We know that because that's what progressives and leftists have been doing.

      We know that because when Trump tried to impose tariffs on the Chinese, progressives screamed bloody murder.

      People like you, Tony, are the cause of child labor, slave labor, and repressive regimes in the world.

      And when leftists like you talk about "incentivizing American manufacturing", what you are really talking about is trillions of dollars in handouts to politically connected cronies and donors. Because that's how you operate: thorough corruption.

  18. If you're worried about the debt, prices will have to increase a lot.

    Unless you believe you can finance it all through "taxes on the rich". Given how progressive/left leaning Reason has become, maybe that's what you do believe.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.