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Hardly a Pressing Concern

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

So the tariffs that Uncle Sam slaps on Americans who buy Chinese-made ironing boards save 200 jobs that pay about $15 per hour (“Indiana ironing-board factory faces stiff competition from Chinese companies,” June 22).

Whatever the (questionable) merits of this tariff, its reality couldn’t differ more from the rhetoric typically deployed to make protectionism sound appealing and sexy.  This rhetoric features much fine talk of encouraging strategic, cutting-edge, high-technology industries that will “move America into the 21st century,” give rise to marvelous spin-off industries, and “create” jobs that pay high wages.

The reality, as we see, often features protection of wrinkled old industries that pay wages below the national median (which is about $16 per hour), that use low-tech methods to produce low-tech goods, and that likely haven’t sparked a single spin-off industry since the Oval Office was occupied by Harry Truman.

Let’s hear no more about how protectionism encourages Americans to press on to a more-prosperous, high-tech, and dynamic future.

Donald J. Boudreaux


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