… is from a comment that Bob Higgs left earlier today on his Facebook page  – a comment by Bob in response to someone who argued that fairness is furthered if the U.S. government imposes tariffs on imports from Canada in response to Canada’s imposition of tariffs on imports into Canada from the U.S.:
If the U.S. government put new or higher tariffs on Canadian goods entering the USA, it would be punishing Americans who want to buy these goods. How would such punishment of Americans create equity to compensate for the punishment the Canadian government is imposing on Canadians who want to buy U.S. products? This matter is not a boxing match between countries. It’s a contest to see which government can punish its own people the most. It’s idiotic — and in no coherent sense is it equitable.
DBx: Despite my choosing the above image to accompany the quotation from Bob, the image of a trade war as ‘shooting oneself in the foot’ is not fully accurate.
Yes, when the American government “retaliates” against a foreign-government’s tariffs or subsidies, the American government inflicts damage on Americans. But American government officials are not the same individual Americans who are the ones damaged by American-government-imposed tariffs. When the American government imposes tariffs what’s really going on is that some specific flesh-and-blood people with U.S. citizenship are illegitimately grabbing unjust benefits for themselves and their cronies by inflicting unwarranted harm on other flesh-and-blood individuals with U.S. citizenship. A trade war fought by (say) Donald Trump is Trump, his lieutenants, and his cronies ‘shooting’ other Americans – and then preening for the cameras and Tweeting to the uninformed masses about how all this shooting will Make America Great Again.