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Tread-Bare Mercantilism

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk describes the WTO’s approval of Uncle Sam’s tariffs on Chinese tires as a “major victory” (“WTO Backs U.S. in Tire Dispute With China,” Dec. 13).

A “major victory” for whom?  Certainly not for Americans who must now fork out more money to buy Chinese tires; they lose.  And because American tire producers now no longer have to compete vigorously against Chinese rivals, even Americans who buy American tires lose by having to pay higher prices for their tires.

A third group of losing Americans are those who now, because of the higher prices caused by this tariff, delay replacing their old tires: their lives are in greater peril whenever they’re in their cars.  (Indeed, drivers who, because of this tariff, drive on worn tires are a hazard not only to themselves but to all drivers.)

Sadly, on matters of international-trade policy, what governments describe as “major victories” are nearly always actions that enable politically potent corporations to pick the pockets of, and to otherwise abuse, ordinary men and women.

Donald J. Boudreaux