Monday, April 3, 2017

Trump’s Economic Warfare Targets Innocent Bystanders

Richard Ebeling emails:

Dear Bob,

I have a new article on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation on, “Trump’s Economic Warfare Targets Innocent Bystanders.”
The Trump Administration has declared its intention to redress the supposed imbalances in America's trade with the rest of the world. One recent instance is the possible retaliatory tariffs to be imposed on a variety of European Union goods due to continuing EU restrictions on the importation of U.S. beef products.

What is easily forgotten is that "America" and "Europe" are merely shorthand for all the multitudes of individual consumers and producers in these parts of the world. Once we disaggregate these terms to the individual human beings that they are, we realize that trade retaliation in fact targets innocent bystanders having little or nothing to do with the perpetrators of protectionism in Europe against whom the U.S. says it wishes to retaliate.

A wide variety of producers and consumers in both the United States and the European Union become the victims of both the EU protectionists and the U.S. government retaliators. Consumers experience diminished market choices and pay more for desired goods on both continents. Producers and suppliers in both the import and export sectors in America and the European Union suffer reduced sales and lost business profits, with market-based jobs and employment opportunities threatened.

But unlike in military warfare, where at least, in principle, a stated goal is to try to avoid the "collateral damage" of hitting innocent bystanders (even if this is rarely achieved in reality), in economic warfare the direct targets are economic innocent bystanders -- consumers, producers, workers -- who are designed to be harmed and punished for the actions of other individuals in the "enemy" country.

If Trump's Administration follows through with this, and other promised retaliations against other countries over different goods and services, any success from using various "economic armaments" in its policy toolkit will only set the world on a downward spiral of less economic freedom, narrowed market choice and opportunities, and reduced standards of living for growing numbers caught in the crossfire of international economic warfare.


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