They are bad! Evil! No good! Or, so we’re told – they are at tax on consumers to benefit corporations! They stifle competition! They caused the Great Depression! Yadda, yadda, yadda. I used to believe all that. Seriously. Bought it hook, line and sinker. But over the past 10-15 years, my views have modified.

Britain was the first nation to really go for free trade. They enacted it in the mid-19th century in service to the Liberal view that the freer the market, the better for everyone. There is, of course, much to be said for this: certainly the “Corn Laws” which the British Liberals got rid of were a horrible anachronism which kept food prices for the poor high just to provide a higher profit for rich landowners. But the dogmatic idea that free trade is always good is, in my view, flawed. And I think the experience of Britain proves it.

Right about the time that Britain went for free trade, it was the economic powerhouse of the world. No one could compete with British manufacturing. If you wanted something, you pretty much had to buy it from Britain. In comparison, the manufacturing capacity of the United States and Germany at the time was negligible…while nations like Russia, Japan and France didn’t even really count in the global marketplace. The introduction of free trade did seem to work. Food prices dropped like a rock as cheap, American grain flooded into the British market and Britain’s economic dominance continued for some time. Until, that is, right around the mid-1870s. At that point, the Germans and especially we Americans started to rapidly overtake Britain economically. This shifting of economic dominance was temporarily obscured by the fact that Britain remained until after World War One the financial center of the world – with vast investments, especially, in the United States, Britain’s financial dominance continued unchecked…but in things like coal and steel production, Britain was rapidly feeling the pinch of growing American and German competition. And it was competition from German and American manufacturers who were still protected by tariffs.

The United States kept high import tariffs in place from the Civil War until after World War Two. There were fluctuations, but they were vastly higher than anything we impose today. In some periods of time, ten times higher than they are today. During the time of high tariffs, the United States went from an economic backwater to the economic master of the world. Trouble is, tariffs went into bad repute in the United States because a high tariff enacted at the start of the Great Depression was blamed for deepening and lengthening that economic blight. And, truth be told, it might not have been helpful to impose that tariff at that time. But, really, I don’t think the tariff made the Depression any worse. What I honestly think people miss when discussing the Great Depression is that a combination of war and disease had knocked out of the global economy about 20-30 million young people who would have been both highly productive and who would have also greatly increased demand…no just in themselves, but in the children they would have had. That sort of hole in the economy was going to cause a major problem eventually. In 1929 it did – but years before then, Britain was already mired in Depression and Germany was only kept afloat by loans from the United States (loans made possible by the massive amount sold by the US to the Europeans during World War One).

In the end, I think it is a mixed bag, as is usual in human affairs. Dogma is for theology and not much else…and Free Trade is a dogma who’s time has come and gone, in my view. In general, you do want a free flow of goods, ideas and people. The nations who trade the most tend to do the best because of the cross-fertilization of ideas and methods which results from that trade. What our Progressive friends call “cultural appropriation” is, in reality, how people develope and expand. The more streams of ideas which flow into your nation, the better off you’re likely to be in the long run. That said, there is also the other side of it: the absolute requirement that a nation, as far as possible, remain master of it’s own destiny. It is simply asinine to think that the United States is better off if a majority of, say, our steel making capacity is outside the United States. At the end of the day, we can’t rely on anyone but ourselves…and so we must have the capacity to take care of ourselves in an emergency. And that means we have to retain sufficient productive capacity to do so – and if that means we have to ensure that some level of American production remains via Protection, then that is what we must do.

You see, the economy is not just a number…it isn’t just how much money is flowing through the land. This is especially true now that we use fake money rather than gold and silver backed currency. The economy is what we do to make a living – what we eat, wear, drive, live in. We are 317 million people and in the final analysis we must retain the ability to survive without importing a single thing if necessary. It won’t do us any good to have a bank account fat with fake money if, when a war comes, we can’t produce enough steel to build the ships and tanks we’ll need to fight and win.

We have to strike a balance between the good of having trade and the good of having the ability to take care of ourselves. There is no “right” answer here. What works may change from time to time and we have to remain flexible. To just Protect a dying business is stupid…but to Free Trade ourselves to the point where our business is dying is equally stupid. I think we need to adjust how we measure our economy – throw out the GDP measure. Let’s measure what we make, mine and grow at home. That will tell us how we’re doing. If in Year X we’re producing 10 million tons of Good A, but we find that in Year Y it has declined to 5 million tons, we should look into why. Is it happening because we’re using less of it? Or is it because we’re now importing 5 million tons of it? And then we have to ask ourselves: in any emergency, how much of this stuff do we need to produce? On the flip side, if we find we’re producing 10 million tons but consuming 20 million, we should look into whether or not our tax and regulatory policies are harming our production or whether its a matter of we’re doing all we can and just can’t meet demand via domestic production. That sort of thing will tell us what needs Protection and what needs Free Trade.

The main thing is to not lock ourselves into a Dogmatic view of these things. We need to look at this in the largest sense of what is overall best for us – not for the world; not for the bankers and the mega-corporations…but what is best for us; the people who have to make a living off the economy.

41 thoughts on “Tariffs

  1. Cluster March 2, 2018 / 5:21 pm

    First of all, it needs to be said that Trump is doing EVERYTHING he said he would do as POTUS. I think this is a first.

    Re: the tariffs, there will be the usual gnashing of the teeth and dire predictions, but in the end, the desire for access to our markets will force everyone to comply. Besides these are narrow tariffs – 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, and obviously the steel is the prize. Mark is right, we have to be self sufficient and steel is the foundation everything rests on – it is a critical component to our economy and our way of life for that matter and that demands protection.

    • fieldingclaymore March 2, 2018 / 5:58 pm

      except make Mexico pay for the wall…

      • Cluster March 2, 2018 / 7:58 pm

        Completing the wall will cost a fraction of the current trade imbalance with Mexico, so yea they will pay. I liked the prototypes too …. did you see them?

      • Amazona March 2, 2018 / 9:46 pm

        If we want Mexico to pay for the wall, all we have to do is stop allowing trillions of dollars a year to flow across the border from Mexicans working in the US. My brother was in line at the customer service desk at a mid-sized grocery store one Friday afternoon and he said he personally saw more than $30,000 get sent to Mexico by the men in line in front of him in less than an hour. American dollars sent home by workers here are a major part of the Mexican economy,

        BTW, this is also a way to discourage illegal immigration. I haven’t given the details a lot of thought, but if we could limit movement of this money to a certain amount and only to people here legally we would dramatically reduce the impetus to run risks to work here.

        Then we would have people smuggling money southward, which would be interesting—but when caught that money would be confiscated and there would be a big penalty. Make it illegal,make it hard to do, interdict with companies like Western Union, and cut off that money supply and see how Mexico tries to get along with us.

    • Amazona March 2, 2018 / 9:51 pm

      Yeah, and he used to be for gun control–it’s not what he promised he would do as POTUS but it is what he used to talk about before courting Republicans. I was amazed and distressed when the NRA backed him, and no, that was not because it was a choice between him and Hillary, it was a choice between him and Cruz. As much as I like a lot that he does, some of his former Progressivism is starting to show through.

      As a local radio host said today, she wants to like Trump, she really does, but boy does he make it hard sometimes. Gun control is one thing that has me ticked off, even if it is just a head fake to the Left, and this stupid infantile tweeting war with Alec Baldwin is another. The man is president of the United States and leader of the free world and he sounds like a snotty little teenaged bitch sometimes.

      • Cluster March 3, 2018 / 8:43 am

        It’s almost a personality flaw. I was hoping he would have more control of himself by now, but he just seems incapable of it and does get tiresome. He certainly does have an inner progressive but I think his traditional conservative tendencies tend to override his desire to appeal to the mobs. His instincts are spot on, and he is pragmatic. He gets stuff done. And sometimes I wonder if his tweets are just designed to keep the left foaming at the mouth. He does like to play with them.

      • Retired Spook March 3, 2018 / 9:48 am

        I’ve come to realize that you have to watch what Trump does, not what he says. I do think much of what he says and tweets is just designed to tweak the Left and throw them off balance. A lot of Trump supporters got terribly upset at his suggestion that we take guns first and due process later. The Dems ate it up, but it’s not ever gonna happen. Bottom line, Trumps checks off so many boxes of what he promised and what I hoped he’d accomplish, I’m willing to cut him some slack on his rhetoric and tweets, because it maintains his support among blue collar Democrats. and let’s face it, that’s how he got elected, and without them in 2020, he’s toast.

      • Amazona March 3, 2018 / 4:34 pm

        My original response to the headline that said Trump says take guns first and go to court later was pretty negative. But when I looked into what he was talking about, I had to agree.

        If someone is reported as imminently dangerous, he or she SHOULD be disarmed first. Right away. Duh. This is, of course, a policy that could be abused, would have to be carefully monitored, but it seems pretty reasonable to me.

        “Oh, so your son has hit you, threatened to kill you, and talked about shooting up his school, and has guns in the house? OK, we’ll run this past a judge when we can get on the docket and get back to you.”

        I don’t think so.

        It should be “Here’s a receipt for your guns, and we’ll get this reviewed by a judge within a week and get your son into therapy and give you time to figure out a way to secure your weapons so he can’t get to them, and then we’ll bring them back.”

        Or even “I see that big old Liberty gun safe over there. Change the combination, make sure your son doesn’t have it, and agree in writing that you will not allow him access to weapons while we are working out this whole kill-everyone stage in his life”

        Trump’s comment was pretty specific to certain circumstances and did include judicial review and oversight.

      • Amazona March 3, 2018 / 6:14 pm

        Spook, my concern about Trump’s erratic and juvenile behavior isn’t related so much to the job he is doing as president as it might be regarding his ability to be re-elected. So far the ammunition he has given the Left to use against him hasn’t scored many hits, and we can hope that continues and his performance outweighs his negatives.

      • Retired Spook March 3, 2018 / 8:13 pm

        Spook, my concern about Trump’s erratic and juvenile behavior isn’t related so much to the job he is doing as president

        I thought you nailed it before the election when you said you thought he would be a better President than a candidate (or something like that). I guess you were at least half right. He’s an unarticulate real estate developer from Queens. What you see is what you get. I guess we can all let it bother us into not supporting him, but I think that’s short-sighted. As you’ve said a number of times; we didn’t hire him to be our parent or to date him, just to run the country, and in spite of his character flaws, I think he’s doing a pretty good job of that. I just hope every one who supported him in 2016 feels the same way come November, 2020.

      • Amazona March 3, 2018 / 9:21 pm

        Well, you and I and people like us are more analytical. We look at results. Unfortunately, a lot of American voters (and those who are not American, LOL) look at the superficial–the hair, the tweets, the family.

        What I always said was, I don’t want to date the guy, I want to hire him. And he is the right man for this job in this time. Looking at his record, I’d hire him again. We’ve all met people who were obnoxious but very good at what they did—the car or insurance salesman who drove you nuts, but set sales records. I personally can cope with the tweets, for example, simply by avoiding social media and television news—-it’s amazing how calming that strategy is. When something is called to my attention I might cringe, but I’d still vote for him again—unless something really changes. And by “something really changes” I mean having a different conservative to vote for because Trump has crashed and burned.

        I’m not really WORRIED about Trump, but I am a little concerned that he might damage other Republican candidates. Yes, I always said I thought he would be a better president than candidate, and it turned out he was a pretty good candidate. And he’s turning out to be a hell of a president.

        We have to remember, other countries have had clownish presidents, and so have we. Peru had a president whose wife caught him fooling around and pitched such a fit he locked her in the presidential palace—and she got on the phone and called the press and when they showed up she went out on a balcony and told them what was going on, in rather explicit terms, while throwing his clothes into the courtyard. That was before he got caught stealing, and had to go on the run with Interpol after him. But he was a hell of a president and almost destroyed Sendero Luminoso, the terrorist gang that had been killing and raiding all over the country. Canada seems addicted to electing clowns as president.

      • M. Noonan March 4, 2018 / 2:49 am

        OTOH, I saw a bit earlier which states that in the Battleground States, the GOP has had a net gain in voter registration over the Dems – only CO has shown a Dem increase, and that by a mere 1,000 voters. Some of the GOP gains are quite large, especially in places like FL and PA. This goes along with my theory that the GOP is actually getting larger and the Democrats are shrinking…and in some cases not just shrinking in relation to the GOP, but shrinking absolutely. To me, this makes sense – in spite of all the shrieking about Trump, the bottom line is that he is doing things which tend to help out regular folks and the Democrats are advocating policies which are pitched to relatively small interest groups. Their plan, no doubt, was to get together enough small interest groups to build a majority…but I just can’t see race-baiting identity politics and demands for mass amnesty-to-immediate-citizenship appealing to any but a narrow slice of the electorate overall. I don’t even think that African-Americans or immigrants are all that jazzed up about it. There has been some indication of a slight move towards Trump among minority voters, but I think the larger picture would be that they won’t show up in droves, even if they don’t like Trump all that much (this is why some Democrat leaders are really trying to find the next Obama – thinking that such could re-energize the 2008 Coalition…but that Coalition is gone for good; rural and working class whites have left the Democrats and I don’t think they’ll be going back any time soon).

        It is hard to separate out the noise from the reality – even I, who don’t even watch TV news, am not entirely immune to the drumbeat of everything’s bad and Trump is doomed…but then I see data points like a 50k voter increase for the GOP in a Battleground State and I remember: the MSM is the merest arm of the DNC these days. They don’t even hide it – they’ve clearly been told to report it as if it were that bad for Trump in an attempt to build a preference cascade against him. I don’t have proof of it, but their reporting (and how very much the same all of it is – right down to the exact words being used) tells me that the anti-Trump MSM drumbeat must be coordinated.

        We’ll find out this November if I’m right…anything from a GOP win to a slight GOP loss will indicate my theory of a growing GOP/shrinking Democrat Party is the reality. Only a massive Democrat blowout would prove me wrong.

      • Cluster March 4, 2018 / 9:36 am

        What Trump proposed re: guns was nothing more than “probable cause” – if there is legitimate probable cause to suspect that someone is a harm to themselves and others, and does possess weapons, then yes, those guns should be temporarily removed from the equation while adjudication takes place. That’s just common sense.

        If the election were today, Trump would win reelection in a landslide….and that fact is driving liberals to extreme irrationality:

        Crazed liberals scream for his removal…impeachment…even assassination. Because they know he is succeeding, he is effective, he is erasing Obama and fundamentally changing America back to a conservative, capitalist nation. They know they can’t stop him at the ballot box, so they have decided they have to stop him any other way they can- even resorting to violence, conspiracy and sedition.

        He has proposed to do more for illegal immigrant “dreamers” than any Democrat ever has, and yet Democrats oppose. Don’t think that that has gone unnoticed.

        He cut taxes and people have more money in their pockets and that too was opposed by every single Democrat. Don’t think that that has gone unnoticed.

        He is actively deporting violent illegal criminals which is opposed by Democrats. Don’t think that that has gone unnoticed.

        He has nearly wiped out ISIS, something the Democrats said could never be done. Don’t think that that has gone unnoticed.

        He has revitalized the coal industry and America is now a net oil exporter. Don’t think that that has gone unnoticed.

        Through these actions and others, Trump has revitalized the independent American spirit and Democrats now find themselves opposing everything that is authentically American. Not a good position to be in.


      • Retired Spook March 4, 2018 / 10:00 am

        but that Coalition is gone for good; rural and working class whites have left the Democrats and I don’t think they’ll be going back any time soon).

        Wayne Allyn Root agrees with you.

        (It appears Cluster and I both read and linked to the same article at the same time. Great minds think alike.)

      • M. Noonan March 4, 2018 / 10:46 pm

        We’ll all have to wait and see. But I think I’m on the right track…it was, after all, the rise in GOP voter registration in PA which first tipped me off in 2016 that Trump had a shot.

      • M. Noonan March 4, 2018 / 10:48 pm

        Another thing – I’m getting more and more of a vibe that Kasich will run as an Independent. And I’ll bet he’ll get money from Democrats thinking he’ll split the GOP vote. But I don’t believe it’ll work out that way. Sure, he’ll pull in some, but I think its likely that for every GOPer he pulls away from Trump, he’ll pull two Democrats away from their nominee. There are plenty of moderate squishes whom the Democrats are alienating even as they still can’t stomach Trump.

      • Cluster March 4, 2018 / 10:58 am

        Haha we are definitely on the same page. Here’s another great article detailing just how Democrats and progressives are being played by the Russians:


        Many of us have been saying for years that communists are major supporters of left-wing environmental groups, and liberal reporters are being used as “useful idiots” to advance the Kremlin’s agenda. Here is proof we were right all along.

        Would there even be an environmental movement without the support of communists? And tell me again why “Earth Day” is celebrated on Lenin’s birthday…

  2. Cluster March 3, 2018 / 9:01 am

    It is time once again to renact the spirit of the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924, or we will become Germany.


    Because California is already there:

    California, where, according to a recent essay by Victor Davis Hanson, half of all immigrant households are on welfare and the state accounts for a third of the nation’s welfare recipients with only 12% of its population, even as 20% of California’s population lives below the poverty line.

  3. Retired Spook March 4, 2018 / 10:15 am

    Kevin McCullough at Town Hall expands on your idea that tariffs are not necessarily bad.

    And if this statement is true (about the 5 previous presidents), then this is just moving the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem all over again.

    If the five preceding presidents all held the same position (which they did) but were unable to get it done due to economic stagnation, terrorism, etc. now is the perfect time to take it up and create a far more favorable playing field for our domestic metals industry as well as the workers who would love to show the world the pride they take in American Steel and Aluminum.

    • Cluster March 4, 2018 / 11:08 am

      From your article and a fundamental concept that rational Americans understand, but completely escapes progressives and establishment types:

      Like much of the rest of the Trump focus, America needs to shore up America’s capacity for whatever faces us, and being utterly dependent upon others doesn’t move us in that direction.

      American independence and courage is required for a peaceful and prosperous world.

      Besides, I saw that Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse oppose tariffs, which convinces me it is the right thing to do. LOL

      • Amazona March 4, 2018 / 5:31 pm

        I haven’t agreed with everything Sasse has said but in general I think he’s a pretty solid conservative and I’ll give the rookie a pass or two because I think he is basically on the right track. Flake is just a flake.

        Is it something in the water in Arizona?

        Not that a state represented by Michael Bennett, Jared Polis and the Looper is much of a standard for intelligent representation.

  4. Cluster March 4, 2018 / 12:14 pm

    It’s hilarious watching 30 something year old liberal media pundits criticize a man who has accomplished more in his lifetime and done more for this country than they could ever dream of.

    • Amazona March 4, 2018 / 5:28 pm

      It’s kind of like watching Bernie Sanders lecture us on economics

  5. Cluster March 4, 2018 / 12:49 pm

    This is hilarious –

    Former Attorney General Eric Holder believes special counsel Robert Mueller already has plans to charge President Donald Trump with obstructing justice.

    So after a year plus of investigations, there is no evidence of any collusion or crime YET the former top law enforcement official of the country believes there is obstruction of justice. Maybe there is “obstruction of progressive justice” – that is the dismantling of everything Obama and that’s what Holder is really objecting to.

    Holder is a complete loser. And racist.

    • Amazona March 4, 2018 / 4:55 pm

      Let me make sure I understand this—-is Eric Holder NOW saying that the job of the DOJ is to charge people with crimes?

      When did that happen? Obviously since January 20, 2017.

      • Cluster March 5, 2018 / 8:15 am

        Only white people commit crimes silly – PROMISE !

        I wonder if Mueller will ask any of Hillary’s contacts in Russia if they colluded with Trump? And it still amazes me how Russia went from a regional power who we could work with in 2012 to the greatest existential threat this country has ever confronted. Weird.

  6. Cluster March 5, 2018 / 8:21 am

    Maybe it’s “toxic femininity”

    After data was collected from 185 studies looking at sperm count and concentration in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand from 1973 to 2011, researchers found that total sperm count declined by 59.3 percent and sperm concentration declined by 52.4 percent.

    Data from men in South America, Asia and Africa were also examined, however, no serious decline was detected. Researchers did note that not as many studies have been conducted in these regions.

    I can tell you that even when I look at Hillary Clinton, my count drops significantly.


  7. Cluster March 5, 2018 / 8:30 am

    And just to point out the obvious –

    The media, Democrats and squishy Republicans continue to hammer the NRA and debate “gun control” while nearly every single school in this country is STILL UNPROTECTED.

    They really are looking out for the best interests of our country. F***ING IDIOTS.

    • Amazona March 5, 2018 / 10:00 pm

      Oh, you’re just a racist, focusing on this poor immigrant man who just wants a better life.

      For him, at least. Not so much for his wife.

  8. Cluster March 5, 2018 / 9:15 am

    Here is some much needed perspective on the tariff issue. This from Charles Payne:

    “I know tariffs are bad but…” Payne tweeted, “It seems to be working very well for the fastest growing economies in world.” The Fox Business host then listed several nations that employ tariffs and the 10 year average growth of each one.

    Isn’t that the truth. Tariff’s seem to be working really well for other countries. And then there is this:

    Of the strong history of so-called “protectionist” policies, the venerable Pat Buchanan, who has been brilliant on this issue for decades, opines, “Under protectionist policies from 1865 to 1900, U.S. debt was cut by two-thirds. Customs duties provided 58 percent of revenue. Save for President Cleveland’s 2 percent tax, which was declared unconstitutional, there was no income tax. Commodity prices fell 58 percent. Real wages, despite a doubling of the population, rose 53 percent. Growth in GDP averaged over 4 percent a year. Industrial production rose almost 5 percent a year.”


    • Amazona March 5, 2018 / 11:50 am

      That’s all very interesting and a snapshot of an era in which the United States was by far the most productive industrial nation in a world that offered little of no competition. People had few other places to go to buy what we sold, and we didn’t need to import much. Cars? Steel? What? What I want to know is how tariffs on imports in this country might affect me personally as well as the economy of the nation in general now that there are so many other countries producing so many other goods that we like to buy, and in some cases might need to buy.

      • Cluster March 5, 2018 / 12:35 pm

        Well if you do the math and take into account that American consumers would absorb the costs, then you will be paying pennies on the dollar more for your cars, soda, etc.

        I don’t think it will be a life changer. And I will gladly pay more if it means a resurrection of our steel industry.

      • Amazona March 5, 2018 / 9:48 pm

        I noted that Americans didn’t import much in the way of finished products. Imported cars were unheard-of, for example. What we imported, for the most part, was raw material. And don’t overlook the comment on the time frame. I don’t think the same figures were true in the 30s after the Roosevelt administration imposed tariffs to try to boost American industries. Where we got hurt then was through retaliatory tariffs put on American products by other countries, so our exports dropped.

        We have to remember that trade goes both ways.

        Show me an apples to apples comparison, of a more modern, more industrialized America imposing strong tariffs on its imports without being hurt by equally strong tariffs being put on our own products being shipped overseas. I also wonder if there is any effect on quality of American goods if competition from foreign goods is decreased. In the automobile industry, for example, the quality bar was raised considerably by foreign manufacturers, and American car makers had to catch up to compete. Now they are very competitive, but I think a lot of that is the realization that if they are not they will lose out to BMW, for example.

        And BTW I am really getting tired of the overblown hyperbole of internet headlines. Now things are not merely presented, they “blow the other side into SMITHEREENS!

      • Amazona March 5, 2018 / 9:49 pm

        Are you sure that any reduction in the quantity or quality of US steel is only due, or even mostly due, to imported steel?

    • Amazona March 5, 2018 / 9:58 pm

      You might want to read The Forgotten Man, by Amity Shlaes, for a different perspective on the impact of raising tariffs.

      From an article about her book: emphasis mine

      Amity Shlaes, a Senior Fellow in Political Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, proposes a different view of government intervention in stemming the economic distress caused by the Great Depression than offered by historians who argue that the New Deal improved American life and saved capitalism. Shlaes uses a well researched combination of economic data, media reports, and government records to demonstrate that despite a massive enlargement of federal government regulation, taxation, and spending that there was no real economic improvement. Shlaes contends that Hoover and Roosevelt, both underestimating the underlying strength of the American economy, did more harm than good through artificially attempting to create a recovery that would have occurred years earlier.

      Shlaes blames the Hoover administration for aggravating the effects of the stock market crash by encouraging business and unions to expand overall employment by converting full-time workers to a part time workforce, which decreased wages for most families, further accelerating the decline in spending. Congress raised tariffs to protect American jobs, which curtailed exports as a trade war erupted.

      Click to access amity_shlaes.pdf

      • M. Noonan March 5, 2018 / 11:10 pm

        Interesting stuff…but I still hark back to WWI and the Spanish ‘Flu. Twenty to thirty million dead, almost all of them fit, young people. Hard to fix a hole like that in the global economy. It really was a waste of money in a lot of ways. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the Brits fired off 1.5 million artillery rounds. I can’t find the cost of each shell listed anywhere, but in modern terms firing off that many of our best rounds would be to blow through $2.9 billion. In a day. And that money is gone…wealth created and stored over many years literally shot out of a cannon. Then there was Russia – a gigantic market for American and western European exports up until the start of the war: that market was simply gone. Destroyed by war, revolution and the Communists refusal to open up their economy afterwards. Meanwhile, there were literally tens of millions of tons of scrap steel at the end of the war…tanks and ships no longer needed and put up for scrap, thus depressing the price of steel and making less necessary the production of new steel.

        The bottom line is that major war leads to economic contraction – it only appears to us that it is otherwise. But the reality is that we only avoided post-WWII economic crisis because we had literally blown to pieces are stiffest economic competitors and the miracles of medical science led to a completely unexpected population boom. I don’t think the tariff played a role in either starting or lengthening the Great Depression. I think that New Deal tinkering did a lot of bad, of course. But no matter how you slice it, the world was going to go through a bad time at some point.

      • Amazona March 6, 2018 / 11:12 am

        I don’t know enough to argue either way, regarding tariffs. I have heard good arguments for either side. There is also the danger of using the word “tariffs” as if it has one meaning. There are reasonable tariffs, there are punitive tariffs, there are tariffs that might nudge a nation into importing less and therefore stimulating domestic economy and there are tariffs that are so high that they spur retaliatory tariff rises on American goods in other countries, stifling American production.

        The snapshot of the effect, or lack of effect, on the American economy in the late 18th Century, while possibly not exactly meaningless, really doesn’t address the contemporary economic reality of being only one industrialized nation among many, in a world where rapid transport of goods is so easy, etc.

        I’ve read Schales’ book, and she goes into great detail about the types and sizes of tariffs the US imposed on which imports, and on the responses from various countries.

        This is an extremely complex subject and I am only pointing out that merely being supported by Trump is hardly adequate justification for raising tariffs if we don’t know how much, on what, and what an angered response from other nations would do. We as conservatives stand back and watch Dems launch themselves at supposed solutions to problems because these “solutions” seem so obvious, only to encounter one Unintended Consequence after another. We need to be careful to avoid doing the same thing ourselves.

        The idea of raising the cost of imported materials so Americans stop using foreign materials and start using materials we make, mine and produce here is, on the surface, such an obvious and logical move that, as Cluster said, it’s “…a fundamental concept that rational Americans understand…” And I agree. As a CONCEPT I think everyone understands it, without the condescending modifier “rational”. Understanding and agreeing that the concept is always successful are not the same.

        I merely suggest that this concept be very carefully evaluated, from its underlying motivation to its final result. Is the American steel industry really dying? If so, why? Is it really because of the unfair competition of imported steel or are there other reasons? What is the history of the effects of tariffs over the years?

        Just being promoted by Donald Trump, known for his knee-jerk reactions on occasion, does not convince me. As I said, I am not arguing one way or another. I’m just wondering if the tariff cheerleaders have done enough due diligence or are just going by what seems apparent and logical and accepting arguments at face value.

      • Amazona March 8, 2018 / 3:42 pm

        Here is another view of the tariff idea, which is held by a lot of people including those who have left the Trump administration because they believe his stated tariff policy is wrong for the country. Opposition to the idea is not opposition to Trump, but to the concept, and is usually based on some pretty good analysis of economics and history. I am a little concerned that too much of the support for these tariffs comes from just always agreeing with Trump and not from objective analysis. Yes, I know the first quote is from the National Review, and yes, I know they tend to dislike Trump, and yes, I know the latter sentences are snarky and a little insulting to Trump. True, but not very nice.

        Protectionism is a scythe that slices through core conservative principles, including opposition to government industrial policy, and to government picking winners and losers, and to crony capitalism elevated to an ethic (“A Few Americans First”). Big, bossy government does not get bigger or bossier than when it embraces protectionism — government dictating what goods Americans can choose, and in what quantities, and at what prices. Down the decades, Trump has shown an impressive versatility of conviction, but the one constant in the jumble of quarter-baked and discordant prejudices that pass for his ideas has been hostility to free trade. It perfectly expresses his adolescent delight in executive swagger, the objectives of which are of negligible importance to him; all that is important is that the spotlight follows where his impulses propel him.


        Then there is this, which I found after I copied the quote above:

        BREAKING: Trump Plans To Back Off Big Steel Tariff Plans

        Trump has a nasty habit of floating trial balloons that have real world impact — such as a drop in the stock market — and then walking them back when things go wrong. But better for him to walk back a mistake than continue down the road of 18th-century mercantilism.


  9. Retired Spook March 5, 2018 / 2:33 pm

    Let’s play a little Jeopardy.


    What was the percentage of Delta Airlines passengers who took advantage of the NRA discount last year, Alex.


    • Amazona March 5, 2018 / 9:50 pm

      Now I want to know how much business Delta lost due to its powerful social statement. I hope it was a lot.

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