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Uncle Sam Punishes Americans

Here’s a letter that I sent yesterday to Associated Press reporter Jennifer Loven:

In your report today published at Money.AOL.com under the headline “US penalizes Chinese tires, infuriating Beijing” you write about “President Barack Obama’s decision to impose trade penalties on Chinese tires.”  Both the headline and your report miss what’s going on.

Tires are not sentient creatures; they cannot be penalized.  And although Chinese government officials are displeased with this protectionist move by the White House, the ultimate parties who are penalized by these higher tariffs are American consumers.  American consumers choose to buy increasingly large numbers of tires from China; the fuel that powers the rise in U.S. market share of Chinese-made tires is voluntary spending by American consumers; and so American consumers will suffer by being forced to pay a hefty tax simply to do what they’ve been doing now for years.

Uncle Sam’s tariffs and other trade restraints pick the pockets of Americans; they penalize each and every American for having the audacity to spend his or her money in ways that he or she – rather than industry groups and politicians – believe his or her money is best spent.

Your headline would have been far more accurate had it read “US penalizes American consumers, pleasing special-interest groups.”

Donald J. Boudreaux