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Trump's Trade War Kills Another 126 Jobs

A South Carolina TV manufacturing facility will close its doors, and Trump's threatened auto tariffs could do yet more damage to the state's economy.

CHRIS KEANE/REUTERS/NewscomCHRIS KEANE/REUTERS/NewscomThe latest casualties from President Donald Trump's trade war are 126 jobs at a plant where televisions are built.

Element Electronics announced Monday that it would close its facility in Winnsboro, South Carolina. Layoffs will begin in October, the company told the state's Department of Employment and Workforce in a letter. (The letter was obtained by The State, a newspaper based in Colombia, South Carolina.)

"The layoff and closure is a result of the new tariffs that were recently and unexpectedly imposed on many goods imported from China, including the key television components used in our assembly operations in Winnsboro," said the letter.

The jobs lost in Winnsboro are unlikely to be replaced quickly. Even before the tariffs hit, Fairfield County (where Winnsboro is located) was struggling: It recently lost a textile mill that employed more than 200 people, and the planned construction of a nuclear power plant was canceled. In May, the most recent month for which data is available, Fairfield County had the highest unemployment rate in South Carolina.

Trump's tariffs, which are really just taxes on imported goods, are likely to cause the most pain in places like Fairfield County. Large, successful businesses are not immune to the consequences of trade barriers, but they have more ways to deal with suddenly higher production costs than small companies that were already struggling to stay afloat.

And the president is not done with his assault on South Carolina's manufacturing sector. If Trump follows through with a threat to impose tariffs on automobiles and the parts used to build them, it could wreck havoc on the state's economy. In comments submitted last month to the U.S. Commerce Department, which is studying the possibility of placing tariffs on cars and car parts, Germany-based BMW said those import taxes could force it to reduce production and cut jobs at its Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant. That facility employs about 10,000 workers and is BMW's largest manufacturing facility in the world. The trickle-down effects of tariffs could jeopardize another 35,000 jobs at American companies that supply parts for that plant, BMW warned.

Just the threat of those auto tariffs is hurting the state. The Swedish automaker Volvo has paused plans to hire 4,000 additional workers at its production facility near Charleston, citing uncertainty over American trade policy.

South Carolina is quickly becoming a microcosm for the national debate over tariffs. It's a state that Trump won by more than 14 points in 2016, but it's also a place where agriculture and industry—the two sectors of the economy most likely to take a hit from the trade war—are vitally important. Unlike most other East Coast states, South Carolina lacks major cities that serve as hubs for major financial services or tech firms. It's a state that has benefited tremendously from international automobile manufacturers' production facilities, but it's also a state where the loss of a television manufacturing plant can derail a small town.

Trump has said his trade war of choice would be "good and easy to win." Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has shrugged off tariff-caused job losses as mere "hiccups" along the road to making America great again. In places like Winnsboro, South Carolina, those comments probably ring especially hollow.

Photo Credit: CHRIS KEANE/REUTERS/Newscom

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  • Rich||

    Wilbur Ross has shrugged off tariff-caused job losses as mere "hiccups" along the road to making America great again.

    "Hicks! I meant mere 'hicks'!"

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Who wants to work for someone operating on such thin margins in the first place?

  • Libertymike||

    Not I says the Textbook Perfectly Competitive Market.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Who wants to work for someone operating on such thin margins in the first place?

    Poorly educated, economically inadequate people living in desolate, left-behind communities?

  • The_Hoser||

    Don't worry, Rev, you'll find another job.

  • BambiB||

    What I'd really like to see is a tariff on imported LABOR. Like about $100,000 a year per H-1B.

  • Jerryskids||

    Fake news. These people didn't lose their jobs, they just got tired of winning.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Notice how Boehm never mentions why this company cannot remain competitive. TARIFFS did it!

    What was the exact reason that this company had to lay off all employees? A 25% increase in parts was too much? Their TVs are too expensive?

    I have never even heard of this company and the TV market is loaded with big players who offer great TVs for decent prices.

    Fucking lazy writers just pushing the narrative- TARIFFS!

  • BYODB||

    Usually we'd be pretty pissed off if the government did something idiotic and shut down a business for essentially no good reason.

    Noting, however, that this was a Chinese company means that I'd love to hear the national security rationale for instituting tariffs on television parts.

    I am a bit surprised though that this company wasn't able to find another cheap foreign company in Korea, Vietnam, India, or Japan to buy the same gizmo though. I guess Chinese labor really is the cheapest and their environmental policies really are the most non-existent. That definitely explains why they are our biggest trading partner.

  • Fats of Fury||

    Also notice the next story on that site

    Columbia, SC (WLTX) - A global fiberglass manufacturer is bringing its business to the United States, along with 400 new jobs.

    The 80,000-ton production line in Richland County is the first U.S. manufacturing site for Jushi, which is headquartered in Zhejiang, China.

    Jushi plans to bring in $300 million in capital and 400 jobs during the first phase of its project located at Pineview Industrial Park in Columbia.

  • Fats of Fury||

    Oops wrong link Go here

  • vek||

    Shhh! Don't talk about any of that! Do you want people to remember that the tariffs in the 1980s were the main reason Japanese auto companies built plants in the USA in the first place???

  • John||

    Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal evidence. Reason rightfully dismisses stories of people's jobs that are saved by these things as anecdotes. The stories of jobs lost are no different.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Yet you reject theory and statistical evidence, and replace all evidence with Trumpism. He's negotiating. He's smart. He's playing 17-dimensional chess.

    You can't even stick to basic principles of individualism or liberty.

  • Moo Cow||

    +1.

    On my visits here I estimate about 50% of the commenters are Trump nuthangers.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    And the other 50% are moronic douchebags who whine and cry about Trump.

  • Moo Cow||

    So...my quest to find actual libertarians continues!

  • BYODB||


    So...my quest to find actual libertarians continues!

    I hear there might be one over in Scotland, but he's not a true Scotsman.

  • wearingit||

    Yep, basically. At one point in time I felt like a lot of commenters actually had merit and reasoning (ha, reason) behind their comments but alas.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Boehm's playing checkers, that's for sure.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Citation needed. I don't recall seeing Reason dismissing stories of jobs saved simply because they are anecdotal. I'm sure you can show me where I missed it.
    Tariffs cause mis (or mal) -allocation of resources. Government meddling with the economy is always suboptimal at best. Jobs are one part of that picture, both jobs saved and jobs lost. It's harder to tally up the unseen job loss, but they are inherent to the foolishness.

  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    GAAl Shirley... you obviously have TDS or a toothache or something. John doesn't need evidence to fellate Trump. He just does it here every time.

  • Shirley Knott||

    I've been accused of that by lesser men than John. Meh.
    FWIW, I haven't seen John near the front of the line of Trump fellators. He's often reasonable, or at least on the same planet as reasonable. YMMV
    He does seem unnaturally cranky today, though.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Leave, it must kill losers like you that Trump is actually successful.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    They hate it that Trump is doing very well.

    Undermining Trump's and America's best plan for getting lower trade restrictions will only work for so long. China and the EU will crack even more no matter how much anti-American propaganda Reason hack writers put out.

  • sarcasmic||

    Gotta break some eggs to make an omelet. Those people are just eggs. A worthy sacrifice. Pawns in Trump's game of twelve dimensional chess.

    amirite?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Eggs were broken every day for decades.

    None of you with TDS are advocating free trade where the USA and all our trading partners have zero trade restrictions. That is the only way that government is not involved in trade to break eggs.

    Trump is trying to get the USA in a trade position to have as little Americans eggs broken as possible. He might fail. The EU cracked in less than 5 weeks. The Chinese economy is shuddering.

  • sarcasmic||

    Eggs were broken, so that justifies breaking even more. Got it.

    And if a shit ton more eggs are broken in order to force foreign governments to capitulate to our president's will, then all the better. Got it.

    Because free trade means absolutely no tariffs at all on either side. Anything else is a trade war. Got it.

    Just wanted to be sure.

    Know who else said you've got to break some eggs?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    This is not anarchy-land Sarcasmic. We all know you want to live there.

    This is America and we are the free-ish country among large nations. We have trading partners like China that are run by Communists who are building man-made islands in the South China Sea to create an larger exclusion zone in the future. The EU is run by Socialists who also want the USA to die a death of a thousands cuts.

    Its not that hard Sarky-boy, none of our main trading partners really like the USA and our freedoms but they have no choice but to trade with us. The USA is the greatest market in the World and everyone knows it.

    If its not free trade and your trading partners hate you, its war of some form or another.

    Business is a war or sorts.
    "Therefore, those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him." Sun Tzu

  • sarcasmic||

    This is not anarchy-land Sarcasmic. We all know you want to live there.

    lc has already resorted to ad hominems and straw men. That didn't take long for me to win.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Business is not war.
    Trade is not war.
    Trade is the opposite of war!
    But you know nothing of business or economics and are not interested in learning.
    You're clearly much happier with what the voices in your head tell you. You certainly don't listen to anyone here.

  • sarcasmic||

    Business is not war.
    Trade is not war.

    It is in zero-sum economics. If they get more then we must get less, because the pie is fixed.

    Of course that is totally wrong, but it is what many believe.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    So Shirley, you have no argument. You just want to hold your breath until you turn blue like a little child throwing a tantrum.

    MAGA baby!

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Trump is trying to get the USA in a trade position to have as little Americans eggs broken as possible.

    I note that you didn't say "Trump is trying to get free trade". Because I think it's fairly obvious now that this is NOT what Trump wants. Trump wants American mercantilism, not free trade.

  • BYODB||


    Trump wants American mercantilism, not free trade.

    Err...considering that's the status quo...

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Trump offered that. He cannot do it without or trading partners ending trade restrictions.

    The EU cracked in less than 5 weeks.

    We will see. I give Trump until June 2019.

  • JoeJoetheIdiotCircusBoy||

    How did the EU crack? I haven't actually seen anything on the lowering/elimination of EU tariffs. Can you give some links please.

  • Shirley Knott||

    You seriously think I would have preferred Hillary??
    It is possible to find Trump contemptible and still believe others are worse.
    I cannot muster up any respect for any president in my lifetime, although I only barely remember Eisenhower. I see no reason to change my evaluation in light of the current occupant of the office.
    Yeah, good stuff has been done, some of it great. More, please.
    Bad stuff has been done as well. Less, please.
    Trump is no libertarian.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    "Trump is no libertarian."

    Nor is he a conservative. Yet he has done a number of things favorable to both. More than any recent predecessor. Hillary would have done none of it, and made almost everything worse.

    This is better than we could have hoped for under the circumstances. So maybe not shitting on everything he does reflexively might be in order.

  • ||

    Government meddling with the economy is always suboptimal at best. Jobs are one part of that picture, both jobs saved and jobs lost. It's harder to tally up the unseen job loss, but they are inherent to the foolishness.

    Cast out the suboptimal! Wash yourself of the sin of inefficiency! Exorcise the demons of popularity, morality, and freedom! Repent now and save your immortal job!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Shirley never provides citations but demands them!

    Haha what a joke.

  • Shirley Knott||

    What citation have I fai,led to provide?
    You're in denial over the sad fact, and it is a fact, that Trump is not always invariably 100% correct. You react by name-calling and other petula nt behavior.
    You're a master at imputing motive to others and excoriating them for the contents of your imagination.
    Sad.

  • sarcasmic||

    Not only that, but whatever behavior you observe in him, he will accuse you of the same thing the next day. So expect to be called petulant and accused of imputing motive on others. It's as predictable as the tides.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sarcasmic and Anarchy-land!

    Hilarious!

  • sarcasmic||

    yasafi

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Trump is NOT 100% correct.

    Trump does has made more good decisions than Obama, Boosh, Clinton, Bush, Carter....

  • Shirley Knott||

    Just by the way, citation needed for your assertion.
    I have provided cites, some in direct response to your spittle-flecked Trump worship.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I asked for your citations first.

    Provide them or shut the fuck up.

  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    You're sure smart John. The only thing that matters here is how we can elevate Trump to sainthood-- 500,000 years of basic economics aside. He's going to balance the trillion dollar deficit off the tariffs he's imposing too! Wow! I can feel it coming... here goes...ALL HAIL TRUMP AND HIS MASSIVE COCK!!

  • The Last American Hero||

    Economics has only been properly understood for about 300 years. The first 499,000 or so were "strong man take weak man's stuff", followed by a few centuries of mercantilism.

  • TxJack 112||

    You seem to be very obsessed with the Presidents genitalia I have seen the same post on multiple issues. Get some help...

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    He probably pays o,dear guys to wear a atrumo mask and bend him over, reading from a script about tariffs.

  • ScottM||

    Seriously? You believe it's only anecdotal? How about canary in the coal mine. Tariffs always fail.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Tariffs can be used as a tax to fund a tiny federal government like the USA had early on or tariffs can be used defensively to get a trading partner to discuss lowering or ending trade restrictions.

    Trump upping tariffs and the EU offering to talk about lowering trade restrictions is proof that tariffs dont 'always fail'.

    With that being said, free trade is the best.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    The unseen part that everybody ignores is that even if these tariffs are just his negotiating tactic to get zero tariffs (hah! you poor fools), in the meantime, people make adjustments. This company and most of the others can;t just put their lives on hold until the other countries cave. They will find new jobs, or new customers, or new investments. Once the tariffs go away, new sudden adjustments will have to be made.

    All this disruption is more inefficiency. No one seems to care about inefficiency, whether in markets or government, but they sure whine about the results.

  • ||

    All this disruption is more inefficiency. No one seems to care about inefficiency, whether in markets or government, but they sure whine about the results.

    You know who else was obsessed with efficiency?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Cheaper by the dozen?

  • Dillinger||

    are jobs zero-sum?

  • Shirley Knott||

    No. Jobs are trade as much as picking up a dozen eggs or signing a mortgage.

  • Dillinger||

    word. eric thinks world is on end over 126 of them.

  • SIV||

    : It recently lost a textile mill that employed more than 200 people

    South Carolina used to be full of textile mill jobs. Wanna know what eliminated all of those?

  • Happy Chandler||

    The free market?

  • Oli||

    So basically the opposite of Trump.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Managed trade was status quo, so Trump offered free trade and it was refused.

  • sarcasmic||

    Comparative advantage?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Foreign trade restrictions, US business regulations, US taxes, ObamaCare....

  • ScottM||

    Unions? Over regulation? High taxes?

  • Iheartskeet||

    I am against Trump's tariff actions (and indeed any tariffs), but this story is not a way to convince people...indeed its just the flip side of the kind of thing (photos of abandoned steel mills, etc) that people use to JUSTIFY tariffs.

    The fact is, this is what happens in a market economy. It. Just. Fucking. Does. Industries are created, destroyed, moved, shrunk, expanded, etc etc. Even if we allowed no imports, jobs and industries would change...and there would be plenty of sob stories about lost jobs and dying towns (I'm looking at you, small Midwestern farm towns).

    Those supporting Trumps tariffs, just like Bernie Sanders supporters, fundamentally want to freeze everything in place, and think they "know" what the right answer is. They know how much our (meaningless) deficits should be, and what industries should win and lose (because remember, all manufacturing is "good" even though very few people aspire to such jobs any more). Its quite a conceit.

    We are just shooting ourselves in the foot with all this.

  • Juice||

    You want a bailout? Better get farmin'.

  • CDRSchafer||

    Are we supposed to unilaterally disarm when it comes to trade to be libertarian?

  • Juice||

  • ||

    Friedman was talking about a Constitutional Liberal Democracy that the US had recently bombed into submission. Substituting 'China' for 'Japan' through the text of his speech is dumb.

  • Iheartskeet||

    I think it holds up reasonably well. Much as I am a huge MF fan, I never thought the "we get goods, they get pieces of paper" line of argument was that great. MF has made much better arguments in other writings.

    In any case, I'm guessing China's status as a potentially aggressive, technologically advanced dictatorship means that to you, all bets are off.

    I don't agree. China's military ambitions aren't going to be deterred by these tariffs. Dictatorships in general can endure suffering a lot better than democracies, and they will keep right on 'truckin. Meanwhile, all we've done is shit on ourselves and our economy. We aren't going to be stronger economically, and by extension militarily, by these tariffs.

    Whatever IP protections Trump does or does not secure will also be weak. The Chinese will steal whatever they can if viewed as strategically necessary. Rather than tariffs etc, in my view the burden should be on US companies and government to protect military IP, not depend on China to be nice. Which they won't.

  • ||

    Dictatorships in general can endure suffering a lot better than democracies, and they will keep right on truckin'.

    Kinda throws a wrench into the whole premise that free markets are more robust, productive, and efficient than command economies.

    Rather than tariffs etc, in my view the burden should be on US companies and government to protect military IP, not depend on China to be nice.

    This is an apples to bowling balls to freight cars comparison. I'm not sure how you connect these dots but some of them are on completely separate pages and aren't connected in the manner you seem to think they're connected. However, how the specific dots are connected is a bit irrelevant because you clearly indicate that you regard China to be a military or existential threat or otherwise unprincipled as humanitarian partners let alone trade partners. This wasn't really the case for Japan (Constitutionally forbidden from having a standing army) and your calls that industry should protect IP on behalf of the military because of China indicates that you don't really believe them to be interchangeable.

  • Iheartskeet||

    On dictatorships, it doesn't mean they are more robust. Just that the suffering is less likely to result in political change. Witness NK, where despite mass starvation, they plodded along with a nuclear program. I don't think most democracies would take that path...we'd see the government put out, and priorities changed.

    On the rest, you miss my point. I don't know about "existential threat" but China sure seems to want the Spratleys and Taiwan at a minimum. In any case, my point is that wherever you put them on the threat scale, the tariffs won't make jack shit difference. If they are evil incarnate, tariffs ain't gonna stop 'em, and if they are peacenik hippies, it won't matter either. So, I believe them to be interchangeable as far as tariffs go.

  • BYODB||


    So, I believe them to be interchangeable as far as tariffs go.

    At the end of the day you're probably right big picture. Reasonably speaking, trade sanctions and restrictions make more sense for China, since they have proven over the decades that they are not to be trusted.

    Just as the U.S. functionally stole the industrial revolution from Britain, China is essentially doing the same with the digital revolution.

    But, average people probably don't really give a fuck what China does. They could invade Japan tomorrow and as long as we keep getting cheap as fuck TV's they'll be a better friend than Japan to your average consumer.

    It's just a simple truism that slave labor in communist countries can be made to serve capitalist nations. All we need to do is enrich the slave owners and hope they never learn how to innovate themselves. Yes, this is a bit of hyperbole but it's not far from the truth.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Well I agree it's hyperbole to say China is just slave labor, or even a significant minority of slave labor. And if they are slaves, we've seen one of the most dramatic improvements in standards of living for slaves in history. Yes, even with all the cronyism and corruption, they've made progress. It will be interesting to see if this raises expectations for political and social freedom. It's happened before.

  • BYODB||


    Well I agree it's hyperbole to say China is just slave labor, or even a significant minority of slave labor.

    Of course you do, it was hyperbole and I said as much.

    And if they are slaves, we've seen one of the most dramatic improvements in standards of living for slaves in history.

    Related Hyperbolic Question: If the Southern states had simply whipped their slaves less would this mean they were ethical? Are you including Egyptian and Roman slaves, who saw marked improvements in quality of life from starving to death in the freezing cold and/or desert?


    Yes, even with all the cronyism and corruption, they've made progress.

    Yes, using American patents and innovation they have certainly progressed fairly quickly in their military hardware and collection of nuclear warheads. It's true.

    Notably I'm not saying don't trade with enemies carte blanche, but rather maybe double check to make sure you're not selling them useful technology that can be purposed for building, just for example, aircraft carriers full of drones. Say, maybe microchip technology you might find in a smart phone?

    What other nations should we trade with and provide technical blueprints to that is utterly hostile to any notion of intellectual property and human rights? Honest question.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Jeez dude, whats with the harsh ? I was agreeing with you.

    You appear to be a bit touchy about your hyperbole, so I'll assume you meant to not only be hyperbolic but utterly ridiculous with your Southern states comparison, and I'll "pass" on answering that.

    Yep, they stole a lot of shit. Those days are passing though. They are innovating now.

    In any case, I agree we need to protect our military technology, and noted so above. And we haven't been. Tariffs won't do jack shit to solve that. Trump-negotiated deals with China won't solve that. The only thing that solves that is improved security that is not dependent on the Chinese being nice or trustworthy.

    On your last point, not sure what you mean. FWIW I think we ought to cancel the F-35 sale to Turkey, as they aren't trustworthy. Protecting our military technology isn't limited to China...or even fellow NATO members.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "Kinda throws a wrench into the whole premise that free markets are more robust, productive, and efficient than command economies."

    Only if the presumed goal is to enrich those in command (see Venezuela, for example). For the average person, however- not so much.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Unilateral free trade works.
    Treating trade as a matter of war, with arms and disarmament, is at best a dishonest rhetorical ploy.
    As libertarians 'we' should oppose government meddling with the economy. Tariffs meddle with the economy. 'We' should simply stop.

  • ||

    Unilateral free trade works.

    Define 'works'. Because I've got 50 States nominally participating in relatively bilateral free trade that says you're wrong.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Both Florida and California grow oranges. Imagine California slapped a 100% tariff on oranges/juice from Florida. Florida Man makes people crazy.

    How much sense would it make for Florida to respond with its own 100% tariff on California oranges ? I think most people would find it utterly ridiculous, just as they find various inter-state restrictions on alcohol sales ridiculous.

    Most people would also see it for what it is: most likely lobbying by orange growers that raises their prices. Indeed, I bet most people would think Californians are morons for raising prices to their residents, and say fuck 'em, just like we say to their other crazy taxes, laws, etc.

    And they'd be right.

  • ||

    Imagine California slapped a 100% tariff on oranges/juice from Florida. Florida Man makes people crazy.

    Imagine if California banned straws, enacted a $15/hr. minimum wage, mandated cigarette labels, mandated carcinogen labels, and set minimum regulations on auto emissions. Imagine if California exploited a "global" (federal) tax deduction to disproportionately concentrate wealth within its own borders. Imagine if, after all that, California borrowed itself into a debt hole that it may not ever climb out of.

  • Iheartskeet||

    ...and your point is what ?

    I've given an example that even among the 50 states, unilateral trade makes sense...indeed the average American would think it odd to follow stupid with more stupid.

  • BYODB||

    In your example, just by the way, Florida also suffers reduced sales and California growers are quite happy to be insulated from competition. The average American might find it odd to follow stupid with more stupid, but both the government and the businesses involved are going to be pretty happy about it. Except, of course, for Florida. Thus, it happens anyway.

    Unilateral absolute free trade is a great thing on paper. In reality, I can't think of a time when it's ever been tried.

  • Iheartskeet||

    I would say you've illustrated why tariffs amount to mere cronyism. It's not an economic argument...it's just who can game the system.

    It's been tried, or close to it: Hong Kong. Cue a torrent of responses that will tell us some nitpicky horseshit about HK trade restrictions, but the point stands they largely do this or did.

    The rarity of it being tried doesn't mean it's an empty theory. It's just one that has to overcome popular but wrongheaded ideas about the topic.

  • BYODB||


    I would say you've illustrated why tariffs amount to mere cronyism. It's not an economic argument...it's just who can game the system.

    Obviously, which amusingly is an economic argument.

    It's been tried, or close to it: Hong Kong.

    You mean before or after the Brits lost their lease? Because no matter how 'free' China says they are, in a communist nation all that needs to happen is for the head of the party to change his mind. In no way, shape, or form can that be considered a free market. It's a quaint illusion of one.

    The rarity of it being tried doesn't mean it's an empty theory.

    Well, since even your one example wasn't an example of it than I'd say that's pretty good proof it's a theory diametrically opposed with reality, no matter how well it might work in some other parallel potential world that doesn't exist.

  • BYODB||

    And, just so I'm clear on this issue, I do not agree with Trump's tariffs. I agree with your notion that tariffs are generally harmful. I mean, if I didn't I'd be an idiot.

    However, free trade or absolute free trade doesn't exist. It's a fantasy. So ultimately the question is how to get the freest possible trade without gutting your own nations production. Notably the only true path to get there is deregulation, which by-the-by Trump is setting records on.

    The fact that his deregulation isn't across the board is, basically, bullshit but the perfect can be the enemy of the good.

    The idea that 'America doesn't make things anymore' is patently false. And while I'm well aware of comparative advantage, there is strategy there since you also don't want to specialize yourself out of being able to make your own tanks (as one absurdly simple illustration).

  • Iheartskeet||

    So, you think cronyism is an economic argument for implementing tariffs ? Do tell. I'm using the term "economic argument" in the sense of someone arguing a thing is good for a country to implement or adopt. Suit yourself though.

    On HK you are simply incorrect. You can go on all you want about when/if/how China will interfere, but it doesn't change the fact that for decades, and even AFTER the Brits left, HK remained very much free market. IIRC up through 2016 (even now ?) they are still ranked the world's freest economy. One can indeed consider them a free market independent of their political workings. Indeed, the Brits did NOT run it as a democracy. Was it a dictatorship then too ? Was Chile a free market country under Pinochet ?

    The rest of this oh oh so typical message board stuff. A tired trope. "I will measure your ideas against perfection, and any deviation means I am correct". Dude, its bunk. We all know this is on a spectrum. I submit to you countries that adopt lower tariffs, regardless of their trading partners, have done well. And, no, I am not going to try to cite 200 years of economics for you.

  • sarcasmic||

    Define 'works'.

    Hundreds of millions of American consumers are able to purchase goods and services at the lowest price.

    Sure some people will be hurt, but how is that different from any other kind of market competition? Market competition hurts people all the time. They learn to get better, or find something else to do. When they are protected by tariffs, they have no incentive to do either.

    The point remains though that hundreds of millions of Americans will have money left over after being able to purchase things at the lowest available price.

    They can use that money to buy other things.

    The alternative is for Americans to be forced to buy less efficiently produced domestic goods, or foreign goods with artificially inflated prices.

    Either way hundreds of millions of people are forced to spend more money for less stuff.

    That is not how you gain wealth.

  • Shirley Knott||

    What sarcasmic said.
    Bilateral is best, but we don't rule them.
    Unilateral free trade is almost as good and is entirely within our control.
    Cites: Great Britain and the repeal of the Corn Laws
    Singapore
    Hong Kong
    The general trend found, on the one hand in, e.g., India, vs the other hand Kenya or Nigeria.

  • Nardz||

    Ok, let's say we go with unilateral free trade.
    What then?
    What does the US economy look like in 20 years?
    Since your an expert and know all the answers, I figure you could tell us.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    What does the US economy look like in 20 years?

    Why is this such a big deal to you?

    Let's suppose, in a world of completely free trade, that all the manufacturing jobs were in developing countries. Because even without tariffs or trade barriers, their production costs are just lower. Would this be terrific, or terrible? And if you answer "terrible", then how many manufacturing jobs should America have, and how do you intend on artificially keeping them here?

  • BYODB||


    Let's suppose, in a world of completely free trade, that all the manufacturing jobs were in developing countries. Because even without tariffs or trade barriers, their production costs are just lower. Would this be terrific, or terrible? And if you answer "terrible", then how many manufacturing jobs should America have, and how do you intend on artificially keeping them here?


    So, I suppose in this example U.S. citizens would all be living off generous welfare paid for on the backs of immigrant workers without rights? That definitely sounds like one predictable result, I suppose, but only if you assume illegal immigrants are all robot technicians.

  • Shirley Knott||

    What does the US economy look like in 20 years?


    You must be joking. With or without tariffs, the economy 20 years out is entirely unknowable.
    If we could predict the economy outbreak to 20 days, we'd win big on the markets.
    See Hayek, among others.
    The efficient market hypothesis, etc.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Great. The market will be fine with a trade war in 20 years. To guesstimate is a fools errand.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    What is the goal?
    Is the goal for individuals to be free to buy and sell what they choose?
    Or is the goal for America to bully every other country to submit to its mercantilist whims?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    With foreign trade restrictions, you dont get to buy and sell what you choose.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    No, you don't.
    But with American tariffs *in addition to* foreign trade restrictions, you have even less choice in what to buy and sell.

    So the government should control what is in its power to control, and eliminate the tariffs that it imposes. That increases consumer freedom to choose.

    Deal?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The USA has managed trade. The government gets to negotiate trade deals.

    If we had free trade then YOU get to conduct all you business without US or foreign governments inferring.

    Like or not, when you buy or sell outside the USA, you are dealing with the Chinese Communist Party or the EU, one way or another.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    They really don't get it, or are like Agamemnon and only give a shit about saving an extra 5% on cheap Chinese goods.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    If you want me to pay inflated prices in order to further Trump's trade war, then I'll expect you to make up the difference for me. Sound fair to you?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You were ALREADY paying higher than market prices for goods pre-Trump.

    China has massive trade restrictions and so does the EU. Those trade restrictions equate to large additional costs that Americans were paying on foreign goods and services.

  • Happy Chandler||

    If we were paying more for goods and services, why do we need taxes to increase the price?

    If trade restrictions were making foreign goods and services more expensive, domestic goods should have an advantage.

    This makes no sense.

    The argument you're supposed to make is that foreign goods are underpriced. That somehow, the ability to buy things cheaper is a bad thing and we must increase the prices to Americans.

    It's a stupid argument, but at least it's not self contradictory.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    LotS, its why these people would lose in a shooting war.

    You have to sacrifice a bit to get the better position.

    Freedom isnt free.

  • phandaal||

    I didn't start reading this magazine until 2011. Can anybody tell me if they made this big of a stink when many more jobs were lost due to poor trade deals?

    Or is this just more of the cosmotarian Trump Bad movement?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    There are fake Libertarians at Reason.

    When you ask yourself, why a Libertarian would be against using non-violent methods to negotiate better trade deals or get free trade for the USA?

    These non-Libertarians are stupid, purposely undermining the USA, or just dont like Trump possibly being successful.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    using non-violent methods

    Because the tax man is totally nonviolent if you don't pay your tax bill.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    He means that we're nonviolently pressuring foreign countries for better deals. So get off your taxman soapbox

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    we're nonviolently pressuring foreign countries for better deals

    By imposing taxes on Americans. Got it. Totally nonviolent.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You already had taxes (trade restrictions) imposed on you for decades.

  • Shirley Knott||

    So doing it more is okay?
    That's what you're arguing.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    To get closer to free trade? Yup!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I voluntarily pay my income taxes. I complain that some are too high but I have a tax attorney, so I pay as little as legally possible.

    If I did not want to pay my taxes I never would. I would sell everything, hide the money, and avoid the government.

    Income Taxes were amended into the constitution, so they are constitutional.

  • sarcasmic||

    I recently noticed that you've redefined force to mean violence, correct?

    So tariffs and trade restrictions are not force because they don't involve the initiation of violence, correct?

    I just wanted to be sure.

    Because most everyone else considers taxes to be force. But you do not. Is that correct?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I voluntarily pay my taxes. There is no force. I get more put of my taxes than I pay in. I have a tax attorney, so I pay as few taxes as legally possible.

    If I chose to not pay taxes, there would be nothing the US government could do about it. I would sell everything and have zero assets on the books. Go to identity number 10 and travel the world.

    Hey fun fact, did you know that the government cannot force you to have an identity they want you to have. Most peoeple go by their name on their birth certificate. What happens when you never have a social security number or birth certificate and you just use some name you want to use?

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    purposely undermining the USA

    The American government, *just like every national government on the planet*, is a coercive force that routinely deprives people of liberty.

    Why should libertarians be invested in the health of the American state? Why should libertarians be invested in the health of any state?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Libertarians are basically classic liberals, so rule of law matters. In America we have rule of law under our constitution, property rights, right ot redress grievances, national defense....

  • Headache||

    Element Electronics? Are you kidding me? Libertarians should read-(remove spaces)

    https://www.fitsnews.com/2018/08/07/ element-electronics-crony-capitalist-fail/

    The Reason hypocrisy.

  • BYODB||

    I'm not sure if it's actually hypocrisy, or if it's just that none of them bother to research a subject before putting their hot takes on paper.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Maybe they can go pick soybeans, since it looks like China needs our soybeans again.

  • The Laissez-Ferret||

    I'm against the tariffs, but this isn't the company you want to pick for your prime example. I live in SC and these guys came here for tax breaks, had no intention of growing their business long-term, and are about three unsold TVs away from bankruptcy. Shitty companies go under every day, and this is one of them. I feel badly for the folks who are losing their jobs, but they're closing because they got their tax breaks and are ready to go soak somebody else.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The US economy is getting stronger every day, in spite of foreign and US trade restrictions.

    Reason has to search hard for anecdotes. This is what they pulled out of their ass.

    All the other businesses struggling in the US are mainly because of pre-existing government regulations like massive taxation, ObamaCare, straw bans.... Using those companies as examples would expose Reasons desire to support Lefty causes.

  • sarcasmic||

    Imagine how much stronger it would be if Americans could buy things from the cheapest seller! There would be billions of dollars left in the economy to be spent or invested on other things! Oh well.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Trump is working on getting prices down. But you're not capable of understanding that.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Yes yes! We should have faith in Top Men and Central Planners to get prices down!

  • sarcasmic||

    And in the meantime all these people who are being screwed over by his tariffs should just suck it up, right?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Trade restrictions with communist china and socialist europe will magically go down too.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Just like all the other atariff we had before January 20, 2017. Oh, I forgot, those don't count, do they?

  • Mcgoo95||

    "Trump is working on getting prices down. But you're not capable of understanding that."

    Not that you'll listen, but I think we all understand what he's trying to do. I for one don't think he's capable. Getting the EU to roll over is simple. China is a different game and one that He, in his infinite wisdom, might fail at.....and fail spectacularly. A wise man once said, "Don't get in a pissing match with a skunk." You might be right and perhaps the net change will be positive, but you've got to understand that it is a huge risk too.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I wouldn't assume that Jeff understands. He's pretty soft headed and confused.

    Yes, Trump's efforts against e Chinese could fail. We will have to wait and see. But at least he's doing soemthing to correct an unconscionable situation. I also have not seen anyone throw a better plan into the mix.

  • BYODB||

    Riddle me this, if the cheapest seller is in Turkey and the product was made with honest-to-god slave labor does it become an ethical question or is price the primary and/or only consideration that matters?

    Asking because this is the takeaway lesson I get from this brand of economic thinking. I'm fully aware that it's more complicated than this, but at some point it does become a question of ethics and morality and stops being a question of supply and demand.

    At the moment, American's are very ready to say that they are against all sorts of nasty things yet when you look at their consumption habits it seems that's entirely talk for the vast majority of us. What American's mean when they say we're against racism, or we're against violations of human rights, is that we're against those things in our backyard. Doing it overseas is absolutely a good thing that we love, and we support it wholeheartedly with our dollars through both individual spending and on a governmental level.

    Libertarians may or may not be against this or that, but who cares what Libertarians think. Even Libertarians don't care about what Libertarians think.

  • sarcasmic||

    Obviously no one wants to voluntarily encourage slavery. That's kind of a "duh" question.

    Thing is, most of what people call "slave labor" is people moving from grinding poverty to low wages. It's way below what we would consider a basic standard of living, but a huge step up for them.

    Because of this I tend to ignore arguments when someone when someone brings up slavery.

  • BYODB||


    Obviously no one wants to voluntarily encourage slavery. That's kind of a "duh" question.

    Oh? Because we're told the U.S. shouldn't do those things, slavery or not, so why is it then ok to offshore those things? It's NIMBYism, and it's disgusting.

    In a communist regime, everyone is owned by the state. In function, if not literally, but usually it's both. So, what do we call it when someone belongs to someone else and has a right to all the fruits of their labor?

    Are most of the citizens of China allowed to keep those fruits of their labor because of the benevolence of their overlords? Yes, yes they are. Such kindly masters.

    The whips hardly ever get used, but occasionally some jackass just needs to get run over by a tank am I right? Sometimes Tibet just needs to know who's boss. Sometimes the U.S. just needs to acknowledge that Japan belongs to China. Sometimes the Indian Ocean just needs to be left alone so the Chinese can patrol their own backyard.

    Right?

    But you keep ignoring it, I'm certain it'll just go away. After all, who'd be crazy enough to try communism in the 21st century?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You are ignoring a good argument.

    He is asking if Libertarians should ignore that their products and services purchased come from slave labor? Sef labor?

    Sarcasmc is not a Libertarian, so he cannot answer that one.

  • Mcgoo95||

    It's not a good argument. One is a human rights issue and one is a free trade issue but nice strawman.....actually it's a terribly constructed strawman. Even in 'Free trade', there are typically "free trade agreements" or just "trade agreements" that usually spell out the implications of human rights violations.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Real Libertarians(tm) think of trade in terms of nations competing against each other for global domination of the economic order. Not in terms of individuals buying and selling items of their choice. Oh no. That won't do.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yep. Those of us who champion individual liberty and voluntary cooperation are not true libertarians. True libertarians understand that government coercion is how you get what you want. True libertarians shun economics in favor of populism. True libertarians focus on the seen and ignore the unseen. Libertarianism isn't about individuals, it's about the collective.

    We've been wrong the whole time.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    You're a waste of time.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    And you are just a troll. Why are you even here? Did Breitbart get too boring for you?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Hes not a troll, but youre an Anarachist like Sarcasmic is an anarchist but your slightly different factions who want to live in anarchy-land.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Thanks LC. I'm not a troll. Although I do let Jeff and some others get to me occasionally and am probably too rough on them. Jeff is well meaning, but kind of an intellectual Gilligan/Andy Dick sort. Not actually a horrible person.

    I will not however, apologize for ever being mean to Tony, PB, or AmSoc. They're just horrible rotten people that would be popping the champagne if we ever lost our constitutional republic.

  • Sevo||

    There's plenty of reasons to dislike tariffs on principle and also from utility, but for pete's sake, 126 jobs?
    C'mon, 126 jobs doesn't even qualify as a rounding error in the employment stats for most cities. If this is the worst, you're not making what should be a slam-dunk case.

  • Echospinner||

    It matters to 126 people and their families.

    Libertarians are about individual rights. That is why it is important to report on cases like this.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    An american individual does not trade with indviduals in communist china. You deal with the communist party sooner or later.

  • Echospinner||

    The company buys parts from overseas and assembles them into TVs and audio equipment. They sell them at a lower price than the big name brands. That is their niche in a highly competitive market.

    Clear case of tarrifs screwing over an American business and people's lives.

    Trumpists sure are some cold hearted collectivist bastards.

  • buybuydandavis||

    We stand convicted of WRONGFEELZ! Oh noes!

    All the people with jobs, all the people seeing expanded wages don't exist, because they don't fit The Narrative.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Reality: Record low unemployment and booming GDP growth
    Reason: Look over there! 100 people lost their jobs! We're doomed!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Additonally, the writers of this trade propaganda never analyze what the specific reasons are for financial troubles. They always take the companys word for it.

    Next reason is going to get shamans to curse mother nature for putting those 100people out of business due to hurricanes. The margins were too thin to survive.

  • Mcgoo95||

    Only a fool believes this trade war Trump has started is responsible for the low unemployment. We are about 6-7 years into an enormous bull market (maybe the biggest in 50 years) that began at the start of HeWhoShaltNotBeNamed's second term. There is starting be indications that we are in a bubble again, similar to the one in 2001, or 5 times larger. I'd imagine you are naive enought to think that Trumps magic bullshit can prevent a market correction. When the correction comes (not if), either as a result of or in spite of Trumps trade war, there will be a political reckoning and the pendulum will swing harder left than anybody on this website wants (except Tony). It's what happens when you take credit for shit that you, nor anybody, really has control over.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    The low unemployment is being spurred on by tax reform and deregulation. Not tariffs. Amd certainly not Obama.

  • vek||

    I support the idea of bludgeoning China and others over the head until they open up their markets. We have the upper hand. We could survive switching our imports to goods from India, Vietnam, etc... China would go into an instant depression if we cut their exports to the USA by half via tariffs.

    In short, it IS easily winnable if we have the balls. I don't think the people in congress do though.

    Also, this is very much the wrong way to do it. The way to do it is to slap tariffs on every single good from a country day one. Have an effective date in the future, and tell them to come to the table or we're going to let the proverbial nukes fly. They would come to the table.

    The tit for tat stuff is the problem. First, unfinished goods are the stupidest things in the world to put tariffs on. Finished goods is where the problem lies if anywhere. And even then it needs to be across the board to apply enough pressure to force them to crack. I imagine he's only doing it this way because he can't get a bill through congress that would do what really needs to be done to break China.

    We'll see how this poor attempt works out. So far China's economy has taken a lot bigger hit than ours.

  • Enemy of the State||

    Hey, since "we are all in this together", can I have your bank account number so I can reimburse myself for the higher costs I've incurred due to "our" tariff fight against the Chinese bastards selling us the stuff we want at subsidized prices?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Ok, amd can you take some of YOUR money amd send it to me if letting China abuse our markets causes me financial harm?

  • vek||

    Nope. But you will get the benefits from American businesses finally being given full access to the market in China if and when Trump succeeds.

    That's the thing. We've already all been collectively getting hammered by the current trade situation. If you think unemployed steel workers NOT having jobs and spending money hasn't hurt you already, you're a fool. Your taxes have gone up because of the massive jobs losses, and lower wages for those that did find other jobs. Those people have spent less money buying things, which inevitably trickled through to lower sales for whatever industry you work in.

    Like it or not, citizens of a nation state ARE tied together more intimately than they are with foreigners in a million practical ways. In 2008, did your house get foreclosed on? No? Well then WTF do you care about all those losers that did lose their houses? Ooooooooh, because their plight royally fucked up the industry you worked in too. And the stock market. And ballooned the national debt. Etc.

    Until we have total Anarchy you and I ARE more tied together than we are with a Chinese citizen. PERIOD. Like it or not.

  • Enemy of the State||

    The beatings will continue until MAGA is achieved...

  • alfachemistry22||

    The US Government sets the trade policy.

    The Chinese Communist Party sets the trade policy.

    The EU Committees set the trade policy.

    Trump at least wants free trade where the TOP MEN dont decide every facet of trade.

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