Trump's steel tariff


What do you think Milton Friedman would think of Trump’s tariffs? You think he would approve? You think he wouldn’t have opposed them?

I guess I’m still taking the president at his word, that this is about trade deficits and bringing jobs home, same as his supporters and detractors. Only time will tell if this is some mysterious special political tool that I am incapable of comprehending, like most Trump supporters and detractors, to improve the economy.

Seems appropriate, he discusses steel specifically in the middle of this short video:

And this is what the president says right in the beginning (he’s not really a super mysterious bargainer with unknown tactics we can’t understand that will help us all whether we like it or not):

Trump and Friedman are in opposition at least based on the things the president says.

Friedman cites Henry George from “Protection of Free Trade” (1886): “In time of war, we blockade our enemies to prevent them from getting goods from us. In time of peace, we do to ourselves by tariffs what we do to our enemies in time of war”

Henry George: “Free trade consists simply in letting people buy and sell as they want to buy and sell. It is protection that requires force, for it consists in preventing people from doing what they want to do. Protective tariffs are as much applications of force as are blockading squadrons, and their object is the same—to prevent trade. The difference between the two is that blockading squadrons are a means whereby nations seek to prevent their enemies from trading; protective tariffs are a means whereby nations attempt to prevent their own people from trading. What protection teaches us, is to do to ourselves in time of peace what enemies seek to do to us in time of war.


Friedman on steel tariffs:

Whatever dynamics are in play, Trump is just acting on the same things he was saying about Japan back in the 1980s; we’d pay import their products, and then they’d turn around with our money to buy up American property here.

Or as he said it in 1987:

“First they take all our money with their consumer goods, then they put it back in buying all of Manhattan.”

Thus, Americans are economic “losers” in his view.

He sees the Chinese through the same logic.

But RET, you’re theorizing here.

The more straightforward perception is that Trump is just acting on the same arguments he’s been making for over 30 years. That’s taking Trump at his word.

You’re the one suggesting that he’s actually not doing that, but is simply pretending to, to make trade more “fair”, or some such.


So, we going to talk about the Jobs Trump is costing the U.S. economy?

Or maybe the cost to the Economy in pure $?

The tariffs did go through, it’s no longer just a negotiation tactic.


A good point I heard on the radio:

Every president we’ve had previously (mostly, in my opinion) had been an economic idiot.

So far, what Trump is doing is working.

I don’t see the problem.


Tax cuts and the top of the ridiculous boom-bust cycle go a long way to explain that. The president and Congress are responsible for the one good decision there and also for the boom-bust cycle. They’re responsible for continuing massive deficit spending and a massive bureaucracy, and we’ll have to inflate our way out of the consequences of that choice if we aren’t already.


What is working? Can we separate what is, from what isn’t? I’m pretty sure we can.

Lower tax rates, sure, getting rid of regulations, definitely.

But how does setting off trade wars help?

How does costing 140,000 people their jobs help?

How does telling not just China, but nearly all of our trade partners, to go “take a hike”, raising the cost of the products we buy, help us?

It’s like if he was a farmer, he managed to set the farm better in order, only to go burn down the local farmer’s market.


And yet…

Don’t know if I agree with the analogy, but it’s a good one.


With the caveat:

And that the tariffs were enacted in the end of May. The reckoning is oncoming.

And no, none of it answers what I brought up.

Creating headwinds to employment, does not help our employment figures. That’s self-evident.

We had growth during the Obama years; that doesn’t mean any policy that man enacted was helping it. Discretion should be exercised as to what is helpful and what isn’t.


It wasn’t really meant to, directly. I don’t know enough about the issues with tariffs to pontificate, but you’re predicting doom and gloom while the numbers (thus far) are telling a different tale. Know what matters to me? Results. There’s productive, profitable work for me to do. I have employment options other than ‘continue to eat $#!*’ and ‘don’t eat at all’.

Maybe he’s just getting lucky breaks? Don’t care, his good luck is rubbing off on me, and I can use it, tyvm.


No, I’m saying that your frame for evaluating this isn’t right. This is not about if net job growth is good.

Seattle was having net job growth even after they passed their ridiculous minimum wage hike; you could only tell this harmed their growth, by comparing said growth to the rest of the country (or even just the rest of the State).

A headwind is a headwind, that’s the point.

This isn’t magic, this isn’t voodoo, we know what cause & effect here is. We know what harms job growth, and tariffs & minimum wage hikes do precisely that.

The cycle of job growth being in an upswing when those policies are employed, is neither here or there. That’s not a defense.

Me too, and this result is problematic:

"Hoff, the president of Global Point Technology, an upstate New York company that designs and sources manufacturing components, was one of more than 100 people to testify before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative against the proposed tariffs. His business already pays more than $40,000 in import taxes, but would have to pay more than $1.3 million if Trump’s proposed tariffs went into affect, he told the office’s special tariff committee.

“Imposing these tariffs would not be punishing a Chinese company,” Hoff said. “It would be punishing a U.S. company.”"

No one rational would say raising the cost of doing business is good news. Neither for jobs, nor other economic effects.

qixlqatl? You’re trying to avoid evaluating this specific policy on its specific effects. You’ve defended it by generalizing, and that doesn’t pass muster. Not if you’re trying to be honest with me here.

It’s like crediting the ACA for healthcare costs shrinking in their growth, when it had nothing to do with it, and it’s deleterious effects on consumers were well known.


I’m not qualified to evaluate it on any grounds. I don’t give a fart in a hurricane one way or the other. What I’m telling you is things are better for me, and I care a great deal about that.

Okay, so how much, percentage wise, does that add to their total tax bill, and what will their total tax bill be as a percentage of gross receipts? Unless it’s 80% of their gross, like the IRS wants to charge me, then my sympathies will be…muted, shall we say?

I figure this comes down to the business class attempting to use their influence in government to shift their tax burden over to the working class. To me. So, yeah, #@%* them.

And before you start with the “oh that’s just narrow, selfish thinking” bit, isn’t that exactly what Global Point is engaging in? Narrow self interest?


And again, you’re generalizing. You’re appealing to overall performance, when that says nothing about the policy.

There’s good things Trump as done; I’m not arguing that, what I’m arguing is that this policy stinks to high heaven, and it’s detrimental to anything we would want.

No, you should be scrutinizing this the same way you scrutinize a rise in minimum wage.

As in, by raising their operating costs, how many hours will they have to cut back on? How many people will they not hire or let go?

Equally, how many business and workers who operate marginally, did you just **** over, because you’ve now made things too expensive for their business model to work?

The what? This policy isn’t meant to raise revenue, and you know it.

Further, a tax on a business, gets passed on to the consumer by raises in prices. By definition.

Wax on about class warfare all you want; this doesn’t equalize the damn scales. This hurts everybody, the worker, the business, the consumer.

You might as well be trying to justify the Seattle head tax to me, insisting Amazon isn’t “doing it’s part”.
Never mind that a tax on jobs, means that there will be less jobs.


No. “Things are better for me” is not general; it’s quite specific.


Yes it is; he’s referring to the overall situation by saying that, not the effects of the policy.

The policy only took place late may, and tariffs, in no way help people, hismelf incldued.

Just like taxes in general don’t help people. They always have a deleterious economic effect.
There are no exceptions.

You can’t defend it by generalizing or saying “i’m not qualified to evaluate”, as it doesn’t matter.

Tariffs, do not help our economy. There’s no reason why it would, it’s a tax. You can’t hide that.


I made a lot of gains while The Messiah was in office. I have tried and I cannot think of one positive thing to say about substantive decisions he made. On economics alone, I can say nice things about The Blowhard, two strong, nice, good decisions. I have continued to make gains since The Blowhard entered office, but my greater gains were during The Messiah’s administration. If I applied your definition, then The Messiah’s reign would be superior from my perspective.

I know that it was not. The Blowhard Administration has been superior in several areas – and also more horrible than recent predecessors to The Messiah. But my life got better while The Messiah, someone I consider the worst president since Richard NIxon, was in office. It could have been even better. Since taking office, the Blowhard has since failed to correct that particular issue despite his promises and the promises of his party for the past six years.

This is a weak way to judge an action by the president, but I believe it’s a reason so many still long for the good ol’ days of the Billary Administration – and even The Messiah Administration – remember, the world crashed right before he took office, and for most people things got better. What if the relatively good times you’ve discovered recently are really just the aftermath of a Messiah economy?


What if a frog had wings? Then it wouldn’t bump its butt every time it jumped.


Plenty of airplanes have bumped their tails…


I’m NOT JUDGING THE ACTION. I am withholding judgement until I see the actual results. I’m not qualified to render judgement, and frankly, I doubt anybody else is, either. Economics is not an accurate predictive science because people continually make irrational economic decisions.

While I strongly doubt President Trump’s moral convictions on a number of issues, he’s been pretty solid (comparitively speaking) on delivering on his campaign rhetoric, and has thus earned a bit if indulgence from me even if he is dead wrong on tariffs. But I’m going to wait and see, because all the experts agreed he couldn’t possibly beat Hillary, too, didn’t they?


It’s interesting you say that – they’re decisions you think are irrational. And you make decisions others think are irrational. That’s where the government comes in and starts deciding what “rational” is, and the last thing I want deciding what a rational decision is, is the government and people voting for “free” stuff (which is even what tariffs come down to) without the pressure of price information.

Also, the fact that neither economics nor any person or committee of persons can predict what individual agents will do is one of the key arguments for free trade. No one can know what decisions you make or whether they’re right for.

That said, economics can explain the results of different behaviors and how they operate. You can rely on economics to explain how the economy works in general terms. Those realities allow you to make a decision about politicians and their public policies. Ignoring economics and relying on what we personally see and experience suggests that I should be an avid fan of the previous president. Would I be wrong?



We’re “predicting” what people do when you artificially make doing business & the cost of living more expensive.

Ask Detroit what happens.

Ask the 1930s what happened.

Ask all the people leaving California.

Because equivocating politics with economics is never problematic.

It’s not like economics has actual underlying systems that need to be satiated, that actually need logic grounding them, or they fall apart, whereas politics can be irrational until the Sun goes Nova.

Ask the Soviet Union.