Because those forced to foot the bill are not readily identifiable, the overall cost of the tariffs is also unseen and hence unappreciated. Most of us have no sense of the damage the protectionists have done. One study estimated that a single round of Trump anti-China tariffs cost the “typical household” $831 a year. Even when some jobs are saved, the price per job is stupendously expensive.
Slavery and the tariff had something in common. Both prevented people from freely doing what would do the most good for themselves and others. Through private property, free exchange, and the price system, unmolested markets tend to channel workers’ efforts and scarce resources to the activities that best accord with consumers’ and hence entrepreneurs’ most intense demands. Enslaved people, forcibly and cruelly barred from free labor markets, were forbidden to choose what they would have anticipated as their most rewarding work. That was one way in which slaves suffered, but the prohibition also made almost everyone else poorer than they would have been. How so? As Adam Smith showed in 1776, specialization through the division of labor makes us richer. The bigger the market, the better.
From the start, the proposal to enact new tariffs on the metal used primarily to make tin cans was naked protectionism that would have benefitted one company while being costly for consumers and many American businesses.
This time, however, sanity prevailed.
The International Trade Commission (ITC) voted unanimously this week to reject those proposed tariffs, which would have been charged on tin-plate steel imported from Canada, China, Germany, and South Korea. The ruling should put an end to a monthslong battle between Cleveland-Cliffs, the metal manufacturer that sought the tariffs, and various groups representing the downstream industries and consumers that would have borne the tariffs’ cost.
Imports from abroad “do not injure U.S. industry,” the ITC concluded, ruling against Cleveland-Cliffs’ allegations of dumping—that is, the deliberate pricing of exports in order to undercut industry in another country.
Phil Magness continues his noble work in revealing just how shifty and desperate – and, often, downright self-contradictory – are those ‘scholars’ who are bent on proving that which is untrue, namely, that the late Nobel-laureate economist James Buchanan was a racist ideologue. [DBx: No competent economist can have read Nancy MacLean’s 2017 book, allegedly about Buchanan, and have come away with any conclusion other than that her ‘research’ is a raging dumpster fire of fallacies, fantasies, misunderstandings, and tendentious ‘reasoning.’ If that book hadn’t been taken so seriously by so many ignorant people, it would truly be comical. It’s the work of an incompetent.]
But gambling is not dangerous the way smoking is: Cigarettes, the focus of a concerted public health campaign for six decades, are harmful when used as intended. For most who bet, their pastime is harmless, and we should not constrain a large majority to protect a relatively small minority from what is called a “disorder of impulse control.”
[DBx: I don’t gamble. Never have. Never will. And I detest hearing the incessant radio commercials for gambling. In my ideal world, no one would wager money on sporting events, casinos would be empty, and there would be no public advertisements of opportunities to engage in such behavior. But I’m not entitled to my ideal world. Because gambling is a peaceful activity, I have no wish to have it outlawed. In fact, were there a move to outlaw gambling, I’d be very vocal in my opposition to this move.]