Media reports portray our Prez as a mad protectionist throwing tariffs like Zeus was supposed to throw thunderbolts. A Google search reinforces that. But a patient searcher may find that, as seems often the case with this President, the opposite may be the truth. President Trump as reported in The Hil, is a free market exponent who wishes to eliminate tariffs altogether. His problem is his trading partner countries that are interested only in eliminating U.S. tariffs but not their own. So the Prez is trying to make them an offer they can’t refuse by slapping motivational tariffs onto the recalcitrant. You’ve shown me yours; I’ll show you mine. The media reports somehow seem to have missed this angle; the Prez must be getting used to that by now.
Trump’s attitude if The Hill is correct, is pure Adam Smith:
“It’s the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to make at home what will cost him more to make than to buy…what is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom…The general industry of the country…is certainly not employed to the greatest advantage, when it’s thus directed (by protectionist tariffs or subsidies) towards an object which it can buy cheaper than it can make. The value of its annual produce is certainly more or less diminished, when it’s thus turned away from producing commodities evidently of more value than the commodity which it’s directed to produce.”
For public school grads like me, Smith is considered to have founded economics; the quote is from his 1776 book, “The Wealth of Nations.” The book is revered in schools so long as no one actually reads it; it contains more such sensible stuff uncomfortable for modern politicians. Maybe Prez Trump has read it, he doesn’t seem to follow orders very well. And if The Hill has it right, more power to him.