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Monday, February 26, 2018

Stop “Protecting” Us from Affordable Washing Machines

More "American Consumers Last" trade policy.

In his latest Boston Globe column, Jeff Jacoby (“Donald Trump protects Americans from affordable washing machines“) explains how Donald Trump’s “American Consumers Last” trade policies are an act of economic aggression that victimize US consumers and make America poorer, not more prosperous:

In his Oval Office statement announcing the tariffs on imported solar cells and washing machines, President Trump said their purpose was to “uphold a principle of fair trade and demonstrate to the world that the United States will not be taken advantage of anymore.”

This is the way protectionists [scarcityists] always talk. They portray foreign sellers as economic aggressors, who “dump” their wares on the US market and “take advantage” of Americans by engaging in “unfair” trade.

Yet the overseas manufacturers have taken advantage of nobody. Samsung and LG don’t force Americans to buy their machines—they encourage them to do so, by offering features and designs that Americans like at prices Americans find attractive. Not a single Samsung or LG washer enters the United States unless a buyer has chosen to import it. The only party engaging in economic aggression here is the White House. Trump’s tariffs will penalize the Korean companies not for doing something wrong, but for supplying Americans with choices Whirlpool wasn’t giving them. Consumers will be the losers, victimized by a government more interested in protecting a peevish company from lively competition than in protecting the gains that lively competition yields.

Reprinted from the American Enterprise Institute.

  • Mark J. Perry is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus.