Daniel McCarthy (for) and Matt Ridley (against) debate the merits of Trump’s tariffs. A slice from Matt Ridley’s essay:
But the impact of retaliation on American producers is in some ways the least of the problem. Consumers will suffer most from the tariffs, and everybody is a consumer, including, of course, those who work in the steel industry. Deliberately raising the price to the American economy of steel, a crucial ingredient in everything from cars to cables, is self-harm.
Freedom to trade is nothing more than the freedom of those who earn incomes to spend their incomes as they choose regardless of the nationality of suppliers. Because your ultimate purpose of working to earn an income is for you to use that income to acquire goods and services that improve your family’s standard of living, if you choose to buy an import you obviously believe that your buying that import helps to raise your family’s standard of living. It follows that if you are prevented from buying that import, you are thereby prevented from using your income to maximum effect in raising your family’s standard of living.
So, as a rule, each of us should be free to spend our incomes as we judge best. As a rule, obstructions of this freedom make us poorer. And while a vivid imagination can concoct scenarios in which such obstructions make us richer, such scenarios are no more realistic than that of burglary being good for society.
Why don’t the president’s trade transgressions elicit meaningful resistance from party leadership? His trade views are disdainful of freedom and informed by economic fallacies, yet Republican leaders have watched quietly from the sidelines as Mr. Trump misappropriates his authorities to disrupt global supply chains, inflict pain on American trade partners, generate enormous amounts of domestic collateral damage and make the United States an international scofflaw.