Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mr. Bannon and Mr. Trump, Please Read Rothbard and Taussig on Tariffs

Steve Bannon, economic nationalist
By Michael S. Rozeff

Mr. Bannon, the famous Steve Bannon, you very recently said “What built America’s called the American system, from Hamilton to Polk to Henry Clay to Lincoln to the Roosevelts. A system of protection of our manufacturing, financial system that lends to manufacturers, okay, and the control of our borders.”
Mr. Trump, the famous President Trump, you said “I want tariffs. And I want someone to bring me some tariffs.”
I come to bury tariffs, not to praise them.
I suggest to you one article and one book on tariffs. The article is by Murray Rothbard. It’s beautiful. The title is “Smashing Protectionist “Theory” (Again)”, so you can expect your views to be refuted.
The book is F.W. Taussig’s “The Tariff History of the United States“, in which you will find ample evidence that tariffs didn’t build America. America rose in spite of the many ill-effects of tariffs.
That’s my message to the two of you. Mr. Buchanan, the famous Patrick Buchanan, whose writing style is so well-formed and whose knowledge of specific historical facts is such a strong tool in your hands, these unfortunately do nothing to
support your case favoring tariffs. I suggest that you also read Rothbard and Taussig, and then see if you can make a coherent argument in favor of tariffs.
The case against tariffs is overwhelming, theoretical and empirical. There is no case for tariffs. The fact that the issue of tariffs arises in 2017 and is not completely a dead issue tells me that our political system is a failure. In what way? It means that the system does not discard or otherwise rule out false theories. Instead, the system always allows for their resurrection and rehabilitation.
Take, as another example, the codification by law that attempts to make people of different sex equal in employment. Economically speaking, an employer does not seek out, hire, train and promote labor by sex per se. In a store, the employer wants certain labor services, such as friendliness, helpfulness, quickness, accuracy, ability to deal with all sorts of people, cleanliness, grooming, taking the initiative, honesty, leadership, willingness to learn, etc. In a factory setting, these and many other kinds of skills are what are sought, not simply the sex of a person. Sex may be correlated with certain skills, like strength, flexibility, motor skills, etc., but sex per se is generally not what’s desired, unless of course the job calls for it, which can happen in a fair number of ways. For the government to fail to recognize this basic aspect of business and to supplant the subtleties of hiring labor by attention to equalization by sex is another case of government failure. If a robot or an animal can do a job better than a human being, will the government insist that they be disqualified in deference to hiring human labor? Will it place a tax (a “tariff”) on the use of robots and animals in order to achieve equality? Of what? Productivity? Why? If a woman is more productive than a man at some job because of some skill and paid more for it, why should a less-skilled man be paid more because he’s the “weaker” sex in this case? Or if there is a less-skilled woman, would it make sense to pay her more because she’s a woman? The fact that government cannot understand such simple matters and instead goes off on a wild goose chase based on sex is evidence that it shouldn’t have the power to meddle in such matters. That it can and does tells me that the system is a failure on the most basic practical level, even apart from its continual initiation of violence or its continual constitutional violations.
The above originally appeared at LewRockwell.com.


  1. I cant be the only one who sees Lyndon LaRouche when I hear Trump and Bannon talk about policy am I?

    1. LaRouche has long been out of the spotlight as far as the MSM goes but I remember how insane he was when I first read about him back in the mid 2000s.

  2. --- Mr. Trump, the famous President Trump, you said “I want tariffs. And I want someone to bring me some tariffs.” ---

    He sounds like Air Boss Johnson [Top Gun]: "I want some [tariffs] and I want them now! I've had it!"

    Bannon and Trump are both economic cranks. Their idea that nalionalist economic policies are the answer to national greatness is based on magical thinking: that benefitting internal manufacturers trickles down as benefits to the rest of us. This betrays a comolete ignorance of, or disdain for, markets and how they work.