Friday, October 11, 2019
Trade with China
Trade with China wiped out many American factory jobs; highly publicized estimates have ranged from 800,000 to 3.4 million. On the other hand Chinese goods are cheaper. According to this paper, since 2001 American consumers have saved $400,000 for every American job lost to Chinese competition.
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Saved $400k on *what*? I can't help thinking that some jobs might be worth it, if we had to pay more for poop-shaped emoji throw pillows, mother's-day-themed silicone spatulas, and iPhones. Some things should be more expensive.
It's easy to point out frivolous things like the ones you mention, but it's important to consider all the countless everyday things too - clothing, kitchenware, office supplies, bedsheets, toiletries, housewares of every description...
Chinese production gives us cheaper everyday items that everyone needs and uses, that would impact the poorest Americans the most harshly if they were more expensive.
Of course, that comes at the cost of exploited Chinese workers, who are even poorer and more desperate than bottom rung Americans, and far more numerous.
We could insist on paying more all the countless everyday things we all need, and we could prevent that choice negatively impacting our poor by more heavily taxing the rich and using the money to subsidize or otherwise ensure these vital basic goods remain available to everyone at prices even the poorest can afford. But, alas... it is extremely difficult to levy taxes on the richest among us, for obvious reasons.
And so the poor of America are reliant on the poor of China to suffer so they don't have to, when in truth there's no actual need for the poor of either nation to struggle, if only we could achieve a more just and fair distribution of wealth...
What a sad state of affairs.
One can't help thinking there ought to be a way to impose selective tarriffs on the more non-utile things. Like, if you want a poop-shaped emoji pillow *that* bad, pay to have it manufactured in the US, with the associated worker protections. Meanwhile, maybe it's OK to still import frying pans and tennis shoes. I still don't like the calculus there, that says it's OK to poison Chinese workers so we can have cheap stuff, but it's better than nothing?
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