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JOBS: Tariffs needed more than better education

Letter by Robert J. Klemola, University Place on Aug. 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm with 5 Comments »
August 13, 2012 3:21 pm

Thomas Friedman’s recent column (TNT, 8-12) used a lot of words to tell us something we already know: American schools are not the best in the world, not even close. But what he neglected to mention was that even if our education system regains the top spot, our standard of living is going to continue downward unless additional steps are taken.

Friedman said it himself: CEOs manufacture their goods where labor is cheapest. So no matter how smart and educated we are, businesses are going to abandon America until our wages fall below the wages of places like China and Mexico – unless we take action and put a tariff on any good sold in America that was not manufactured in America.

Tariffs are not some radical new idea. Prior to the income tax, the American government was almost completely funded by tariffs, so Thomas Jefferson won’t be rolling over in his grave – not because of tariffs anyway.

Fear retaliatory tariffs? That ship has sailed. Check the price of a Ford in Beijing.

Tariffs will have a tremendous effect. When Apple realizes that an iPhone made with Chinese labor plus tariffs costs them more than one made with American labor, they will quickly open manufacturing facilities in the United States to make products for Americans. Other expatriated manufacturers will follow.

Top-notch education is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to reverse the declining American standard of living. Tariffs will return family wage jobs to America.


Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. aislander says:

    Yup. Smoot-Hawley proved that the best thing to do in an economic downturn is to institute a new system of tariffs…

    …especially if the tariffs are aimed at a nation holding a huge chunk of our debt.

  2. SwordofPerseus says:

    Holy cow I agree with ‘slander. I have posted time and again that one of several steps to revive our economy would be to repeal NAFTA and GATT treaties and re-impose tariffs on finished imported goods. Education and election campaign finance reform would go along with that but I dream.

  3. Aislander – guess what is different now than when Smoot-Hawley was past? We were an export economy then, now we import most of our goods. And if you are going to use Depression era comparisons to today, you know what finally ended the Depression? Massive government spending required to fight WWII and not budget cuts.

  4. aislander says:

    We are the third-largest exporter in the world, afret. A tariff war would hurt. And again, China holds a lot of our debt, which would allow her to squeeze us in other ways…

    You demand-side people are absolutely nuts, but the progressives were war hawks, too.

  5. MyBandito says:

    If we continue to import the vast quantity of manufactured goods that we do from China, that which we could manufacture ourselves if we weren’t competing with China’s slave wages, we will continue to become more and more indebted to China, who imports our wealth in exchange.
    We are losing an uphill battle. Tariffs would level the playing field, considerably.

    Free trade is not fair trade.

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