Some lies from Reason magazine, AP, Marketwatch and Capital Press about tariffs


Ok, so they subsidize in one way or another, through tariffs of their own, through direct subsidy, through money manipulation, etc. That means they give us value. They pay for a part of the total cost of their products, Instead of paying $5 for the widget, we pay $2 for the widget. And we don’t make widgets. They can’t do that to everything in an economy. So we make the cool stuff they don’t make. Which is what we’ve done. In the meantime, we get crappy $5 widgets for $2.

That’s not a good objective; and Mike, it’s not really that complicated.

Their markets are open btw. Cherries, for example, have become a major export from the Northwest to China. But let’s imagine that China did not let us sell anything at all but was willing to export. We would buy their cheap widgets and export our other stuff around the world. China would do without the cool stuff we make completely.

Because like you, these taxers actually think we lose something in a trade deficit. What better way to deal with it than to actually do something about it. That’s what Trump is doing.

And we have not been in a trade war. We have been facing economic illiteracy of the same kind as the president exhibits. In that illiteracy we experience prosperity on the backs of their people. Let’s also not forget America’s ongoing trade war with the rest of the world, the sugar tariff since 1776 (or something like that) and the chicken tax on pickups since 1964. American leaders have already shown the same lack of economic sense as the EU and China, and we’ve committed to tariffs for the same reasons President Trump keeps explaining.

This is not wise when you’re wrong.

He is not arguing that it’s free trade. He like I argue that China’s lack of free trade costs its people and subsidizes the interests of Americans.

The bit about sharing U.S. technology? I’m curious, do you think they’re trading technology owned by you and me in the form of the U.S. government? They’re trading their knowledge Not mine or yours, and not government’s. They’re giving up their technology. But it’s theirs to give up to the Chinese, just like their money. If the price is right, they make the deal. If it’s wrong they don’t.

I cannot think of a better statement you could make on this subject. This is the core of the argument AS and I keep making. The trade occurs between producers. What farmers should negotiate their own deals. And American producers do this – while Trump’s trade war is closing those doors. Trump’s trade war, his usurpation of our individual economic sovereignty as people to determine our own affairs and make the trades we deem most valuable.

We don’t need government-sanctioned or sponsored negotiators.

There’s a very strong like for your post.


I don’t give a DAMN about what’s “fair” or “unfair” for the Chinese. What I DO care about, is the Chinese imposing unfair taxes on U.S. manufactured goods which lowers the DEMAND for those goods because of the excessive COST. That costs AMERICAN jobs. Why you folks can’t see that is a puzzle I’ll probably never understand. One way–a way that’s only RARELY been tried, by the way–to end that practice is to impose excessive tariffs on THEIR imports, lowering demand HERE for them, in hopes that they’ll get the message about what their tariffs have been doing to us for decades. We HAVE been in a trade war with China and others for some decades now. Until President Trump, we’ve ceded the war to the aggressors without even pretending to fight it.


No one has said a word about what’s fair or unfair for the Chinese. What are you on about?

What jobs are we missing? Crappy widget-making jobs?

When China commits the economic fail (the same one Donald Trump is trying to commit) it may gain dominance in one crappy widget or another, but it cannot gain dominance in all or even most widgets or crappy widgets. We just make different things. The overall value of what we get individually as individual American producers and consumers increases as a result.

If American jobs is your real concern, then you should be concerned about the tariffs since numerous industries are cutting or anticipate cutting jobs due to lower demand for a number of products, either products downstream of steel and aluminum or in retaliation on items we currently export to places like China.

Because on those rare occasions that it’s been tried, the cost to American producers and consumers has been very high. But it’s not as rare as you think. The United States already has a number of protectionist tariffs in place, at least one dating back to the beginning of the country.

There is no need for Americans to force them to end the practice. It’s like telling someone to please stop giving us free stuff. The Chinese and other economic meddlers create a misallocation of resources that costs them in the end, not us.

That’s what Donald Trump says. He used to say it about Japan, and now he says it about China and everyone else in the world.


It costs more jobs to antagonize them.

See Bush Steel Tariffs 2002. Results don’t lie.


I don’t know. I suppose my argument is about the politics as much as anything (by the way, that cool stuff we make goes into their fighter planes, etc.; and you can bet the Chinese government isn’t paying their own tariffs on it). We’re in effect subsidizing their regime. As to the economics itself, it still seems to me that it isn’t a good deal when they’re tariffing our goods when we’re not doing the same to theirs. I think that in international situations- whatever I think of tariffs per se- the President dealing with this is both constitutional and righteous. Perhaps you’ll say that people can vote with their dollars. Well, yes, that’s true enough. But it’s kind of hard to do when the markets are manipulated like this; capitalism is an ideal of trade that cannot exist in its pure form in a fallen world. I don’t think a purely hands-off approach (at least at the international level; intranational is another story) is any better than a colossal bureaucratic nightmare; I think that there is, if not a happy medium, at least a less unhappy one (albeit not all that stable; that’s another thing that’s out in a fallen world) between the two extremes.

I’m mostly just thinking out loud here…


Congress abdicated its powers to the president on this, and it should have never done that. It ought to be difficult to raise taxes, requiring a vote of unruly politicians representing their constituents rather than the whims of a whimsical president. Presidents Bush and Obama should never have had the ability to try exactly the same thing, which they did. Congress ought to take back its own power and restore our system of checks and balances.

It’s certainly not righteous. It’s making life more difficult for Americans.

We’re not subsidizing their regime. They’re subsidizing our consumption. They’re diverting their own resources inefficiently (economics definition) and harming their own markets.

If the Chinese manipulate their markets, subsidizing Chinese production through fiat, we produce other things instead of whatever it is you and the president are worried about. Our production capacity is finite, and we’re bouncing up against the edge of that limit. We’re not hurting. If we don’t buy things from the people of other countries, we have fewer options. Local goods and services become more expensive as we rely solely on local resources – essentially a reduction in available supply for those resources thanks to higher prices inflicted by the president.

Why would hands off work intranationally and not internationally? If we allowed it, different states would ignorantly take up the same positions as China and the president regarding trade. Based on this statement, you seem to recognize this is a bad idea. Why do you think it’s different internationally?

A happy medium of “wrong” and “right” is not a happy medium. It includes “wrong.” It’s wrong to tax people simply because they’re trading with people you don’t like.

I like thinking out loud. Thinking is awesome! Thinking back atcha :slight_smile:


Different states can’t build a military of significance; China can.

Like I said earlier, I don’t favor tariffs per se; I would prefer a straight-up embargo.


But we’re not talking about military action.We’re talking about trade.

To make them quit communism?


That’s what I suspected. These tariffs and counter-tariffs are “poker chips” in the negotiating game. China deliberately targeted some at Trump’s supporters hoping for political pressure. Xi is under pressure too, perhaps more, to keep his propped up economy going. It ain’t over 'till the fat lady sings.


No, but we’re talking about a nation which is a growing military threat (among other things). By the way, their government is showing signs of heading back toward a Mao-style tyranny.

And all that goes with it (human rights abuses, etc.).


Trade is a good antidote to tyranny. And this doesn’t really have anything to do with what I said about free trade between states or nations.

I’m not interested in overthrowing their regime. It’s too costly and dangerous to Americans. I don’t think an embargo is good for the Chinese people. But that’s a whole different discussion. And none of this is the object of Donald Trump’s tax increases.


Can you explain why we should care “what’s good for the Chinese people,” vis a vis our trade policy?


There’s a growing personality cult with Xi, but Mao rejected the “Four olds” Whereas Xi is embracing everything “Chinese”, to the point of using party money to restore old taoist monuments

It’s psuedo-Fascist, and pro-economic.

Again, The Free country Effect. Trade already forces them to be more free overtime. China is immeasurably better than they were in the 1980s

The CCP is undergoing its own anti-corruption probe, something they wouldn’t have even cared to do 30 years ago, as anyone claiming the party had “problems” was unheard of. They’ve become far more sensitive to what people think of them.


Can you explain why we should bother eliminating the communism as FC said: “And all that goes with it, (human rights abuses, etc.)”?
See, FC is telling us that we should care about the Chinese people. FC is suggesting that we should use our trade policy (embargo) to help them because we care about the Chinese people and their suffering under a communist regime. I replied that it in fact won’t help them and that trading with them is the best way to help them. Take it up with FC. But trading is also best for Americans too.


It didn’t seem to be a good antidote with the British immediately prior to the American Revolution. Nor with Japan in the '30s (western missionaries in Japan warned us to stop shipping scrap metal to Japan, saying it would come back to us in the form of bombs).

As to trade between states, the states can’t artificially devalue their own currency and other tricks that a foreign nation can do. Although I wouldn’t mind embargoing (and breaking off diplomatic relations with) California…

I don’t think that enabling a hostile government with trade is good for either America or the Chinese people. As I mentioned, they’re showing signs of reviving Mao-style tyranny. And they’re becoming a greater military threat- with our technology (some came from espionage, but not all). As to Trump’s aims (I thought we were talking about tariffs aimed at breaking down trade inequities, not taxes), I don’t agree with Trump on everything (I don’t agree with him on a lot).

You could make the argument that curtailing trade would hurt the Chinese people, but that would be short-term. Enabling a tyranny (especially one of Maoist character) isn’t; a purge isn’t the best thing for the Chinese people. Possibly they’re headed for one anyway, but the more we enable their government, the worse it’ll be.


The people being “purged” right now are those within the faction of Jiang Zemin; the man chiefly responsible for both the Tiananmen Square massacre, and the 610 office that brutally suppresses religion. The former head of 610 has already been arrested.

Yes, I would call that an improvement.


All protectionism, yes. The Brits were a special case where even more was going on, where a nation was directly exploiting its colony. Don’t really know what you’re talking about with the Japanese. Was this a government program? Or what?

And if they could, they’d be slitting their own throats, like China, and giving the other states cheap stuff. It’s just not a big deal. Would you like a detailed explanation?

You’re enabling the people who do the trading. AS explained it well above. As their standard of living rises, they demand and win liberty.

QFT AS here:

Showing signs? Perhaps our government oughta get out of the way of the relationships Americans have and do form with the Chinese people. Perhaps that will help get their government out of the way for their own benefit as well.

Trump’s reasoning is slippery. It’s national security, it’s trade imbalances, it’s fairness, it’s jobs, etc. His reasoning was debunked in 1776 by Adam Smith. It’s been debunked empirically and theoretically ever since. Free trade spokesmen, like Milton Friedman, have done it so much better than I ever could.

“Trade inequities,” trade deficits, simply do not mean anything.

It went on for decades with Cuba. It was far from short-term. It didn’t end Fidel Castro’s regime.


I’m (at best) unclear as to how directness makes Revolutionary-era England a special case, and China not. As to the Japanese, the missionaries simply warned the U.S. not to allow scrap metal to be sold to them.

How are they slitting their throats when it’s their own laborers (ironic, in a socialist/communist society) who are bearing the costs, and their own economy is benefitting from the trade (and so far as I can see, the trade inequity)? As to a detailed explanation, it would probably be Greek to me; and although I may be wrong, my distinct impression is that it should be simple. If it’s Greek (complex), I don’t see how it can be right. Genuine capitalism is simple. Trading under Chinese regulation isn’t either simple or capitalism.

You’re enabling the socialist government who takes their cut from the trading entities. The Chinese government is feeling the heat from Trump’s tariffs, whatever I think of tariffs per se.

As to Alaska Slim, I try to make a point of ignoring anything he has to say; I go around the hamster wheel with him too much as it is.

Or perhaps (and I think far more likely), it will enable a despotic regime.

You’re saying this, but I’m just not agreeing. I think the case with the Japanese in the years leading up to Pearl Harbor is a prime example.

A couple of things: It may not have stopped it, but neither did Cuba grow in power and influence. Like a lot of ills in the world, perhaps it couldn’t be cured (short of going in and taking out the government; if that had happened in the early days, the people would have probably accepted it; they had a basis for comparison between commie rule and not); but like herpes, it could be controlled. Count the costs of failing to control the influence of a tyranny instead of saying that because we cannot eliminate it, we should go to the opposite extreme of making no effort to contain them. Didn’t you make a similar argument elsewhere about the enforcement of laws against murder?


So did trade with the Soviets; didn’t change the fact that it allowed an exchange of products & ideas that captured the Soviet citizen’s attention.

Enriching the dictator is a permissible thing, if the people are becoming middle class, freer, and more capable of challenging the regime in the realm of ideas & facts.

It means, just like with Gorbachev, the people are pulling the country out from under them. The CCP knows this risk, just look at the Panama papers and their plans to flee. Look at the capital flight in general.

We’ve never gone back & forth on the Free country effect. This just seems to be something you’re unfamiliar with. Palpable evidence, that trade is curative to tyranny.


The colonies were subjects to the crown. A lot of different factors in play.The British turned to violence. They weren’t open to trade. China is not threatening to attack us or demanding anything from Americans at the point of a gun.

So some people were going to do something if Americans continued to sell scrap metal? What is the argument you’re trying to make here Somalis pirates threaten shipping.

Their economy is not benefiting from the trade inequity. We are. We get cheap stuff. Chinese people suffer from a lower standard of living. They make less money as a result because they waste resources when they force certain products to be cheaper to us.

It is fairly simple. AS and I have described it many times in multiple threads. What makes it complex is the addition of regulation and taxes and the arguments of illiterates like Donald Trump. The explanation is in the paragraph above.

In order for the Chinese to undercut our industries, they must misallocate resources to produce those things. We buy them cheaply because they must provide incentives (semi-socialist or otherwise – the Chinese receive wages so it’s on a socialist spectrum like the U.S.) to workers. That means subsidizing through tariffs or direct subsidies or currency manipulation. When they misallocate resources, they end up producing less of the things they should produce based on their own advantages. Their government literally pays part of the consumer cost of those goods one way or another, and we pay a discounted rate. If China really wanted to win the trade war, it would discontinue any and all tariffs, subsidies and currency manipulation. Unfortunately that would no doubt result in a period of instability and suffering, much like actually letting American banks fail as the consequence to their risky behaviors since the 1990s in the housing industry – and they haven’t learned. They’re still offering terribly risky loans.

Meanwhile, left alone, we allocate our own resources and produce the other things we need. Americans continue to produce. I’d like to say that’s guided by a free market, but it’s not. We have many tariffs, some that have existed for upward of 240 years, and subsidies (farms and banks) and they are a thorn in our own sides that we refuse to correct. Instead of correcting them, the president is doubling down on them.

The only win is voluntary free trade among the people of the United States, China and everyone else. “I, Pencil” is a brilliant explanation why.

Our socialist government takes its cut from the trading entities too. It’s a problem, yes; and Americans are feeling the heat from Trump’s tariffs too. Unfortunately, there’s nothing uncommon about governments raiding the wallets of their own people.

Nevertheless, he had an excellent post that answers your question very well. Just because you don’t care for the source doesn’t make the facts wrong. Modern liberals think that way. That’s why some of them discount anything any of our forefathers ever said. Don’t make the same mistake.

If the Chinese people are trading for their own benefit, which they are, that’s not despotism. That’s going the other way.

I need an explanation to respond to this.

Also, it’s not just “I” saying, it’s Adam Smith, it’s Milton Friedman. It’s Thomas Sowell. It’s most economists – and it’s based on real-world data and the experiences we’ve had. Smoot-Hawley, which helped extend the Great Depression; Bush’s steel tariff, which he promptly rescinded; and many more.

There was a time that Republicans listened to and respected free market capitalist economists like Friedman and Sowell. It’s because they knew they were right. It’s because they rejected consistently the efficacy of central planning, like trade tariffs along with many other socialist notions.

Socialism doesn’t solve socialism.

Imagine a world where Cuba became free instead of smoldering. And perhaps it couldn’t be cured.

We effectively controlled Cuba with the threat of force. Heck we continue to hold land on Cuba. No amount of trade embargo was behind that. What we didn’t do is trade with the Cuban people. Trade of course has a freeing effect in nations. It wasn’t a trade embargo that controlled Cuba. It was the fact that Cuba was a tiny place that wasn’t much of a threat. The part of it that was a threat, its ally, we controlled during a big showdown with a much larger power. Cuba was a non-entity on the world stage after that.

I am not saying that we should go to the opposite extreme. Trade and forceful regime change are not opposites. One is completely political, while one has nothing to do with politics until politicians decide they can manage our economy for us. Political force in response to a threat and trade are not mutually exclusive.

What if we could have eliminated the threat simply by trading, creating prosperity among Americans and Cubans?

So I’m not making the opposite argument here. As for that argument, it’s something you and others have leveled here, and I was suggesting that the importance of unenforceability is a relatively weak argument compared to other arguments. I don’t entirely disagree with AS on the subject, but in that case, he has much stronger arguments at his disposal. At the city level, many laws people may want are simply unenforceable and pointless – but sometimes could be used by neighbors to hassle neighbors or inconsistently applied by bureaucrat after some unrelated goal. It’s better not to allow the opportunity.