Tariffs from U.S. trade war can’t disappear fast enough

Published 9:18 pm Monday, September 16, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

U.S. soybean and pork farmers can breathe a little easier today, after China announced it would exempt those exports from its newest round of tariffs.

Email newsletter signup

China is taking a step back from taxing U.S. imports after the U.S. took a step back, too — President Donald Trump agreed last week to delay a scheduled increase in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.

It’s about time we moved away from this useless trade war and back toward a relatively free international market. But even as the news improves, it highlights just how stupid using tariffs was to begin with.

It’s true that the newest announcement from China is good news for U.S. farmers. But it’s good news in the same way that a hospital is good news for someone injured when a drunk driver hit them.

Do you know when things were even better for U.S. farmers than they are right now? Before the U.S. government ever got behind the wheel and began messing with a trade war in the first place.

Tariffs never achieve their stated goals, and they create a whole army of undesirable side effects at the same time. The whole time we’ve been in a trade war, the government has been spending billions and billions of unfunded dollars paying farmers just so they can (maybe) break even. And what are farmers and manufacturers going to get for all the trouble? Eventually, they’ll get the same market they had before the war, but their country will have gone deeper into debt keeping them out of bankruptcy.

The only good thing you can do with tariffs is eliminate them. And then the good you’re doing is simply getting rid of all the problems the tariffs were creating.

This is what the U.S. has been doing — we’ve created a problem for U.S. manufacturers by making the free market less free, and now we’re starting to fix the problem by meddling less in the free market.

We’re not going to pretend things were perfect for trade and business before this trade war started. And we’re also not going to pretend the ideal of the “free market” means the flow of money should be completely unregulated — that leads to corporate oligarchy, not democracy.

But tariffs are crude and easily countered. They are simply not a useful tool for improving the intricate and complex system that is international trade in the modern era. Using them as the U.S. has is akin to trying to fix a broken wristwatch with TNT.

We hope a resolution is reached quickly and all of the tariffs since this ridiculous war was started can be done away with.