You may remember that one of our previous posts outlines the TSAP's rather nuanced position on tariffs and trade, but we should also elaborate more on how it is possible to have an intelligent and rational kind of protectionism that does NOT depend on tariffs, quotas, or any other beggar-thy-neighbor policies. For example, since our federal government is Monetarily Sovereign, they can easily afford to do the following to actually protect important domestic industries, as the ever-insightful Rodger Malcolm Mitchell notes:
And that is true because, as he also notes, a Monetarily Sovereign government like ours literally has the unlimited ability to create and spend its own sovereign currency. All federal government spending, without exception, involves the ad hoc creation of brand new dollars every time, arcane and archaic rules notwithstanding. No need to bring the proverbial coals (i.e. tax/tariff dollars) to Newcastle only to effectively destroy them. And unlike tariffs and quotas, these measures result in a positive-sum game rather than a zero or negative-sum game.
Of course, all of these things are proverbial carrots, so what about the sticks, you ask? Even then, most tariffs (and quotas) are far too blunt an instrument, are prone to backfiring, and should be narrowly tailored and used only as a last resort (i.e. to enforce specific trade and other agreements that are being blatantly flouted, and/or for strictly Pigouvian reasons), if even at all. If outsourcing/offshoring of American jobs is the real concern, it would be far better to start by closing the ludicrous loopholes in the corporate tax code that encourage outsourcing/offshoring of such jobs in the first place. The latter tactic is the basis for Bernie Sanders' Outsourcing Prevention Act, which would also end or claw back subsidies for American corporations that send jobs overseas. And his other big idea, the Rebuild America Act, would create additional jobs rebuilding America's obsolete, neglected, and/or crumbling infrastructure as well.
Note that Trump had clearly stolen, bastardized, and ran with several of Bernie's ideas while combining it all with empty rhetoric and beggar-thy-neighbor policies. That is, when Trump's ideas are anything even close to coherent, as opposed to the usual incoherent verbal defecation that he is famous for.
But make no mistake. Our nation's once-great manufacturing base has been hollowed out for decades, and much of it is currently rotting and rusting thanks to the neoliberal "free trade" scam brought to us by Reagan (and Thatcher in the UK) and embraced by both corporate parties ever since. We ignore it at our own peril. And the genuine political left would truly do well to abandon this highly toxic and corrosive ideology yesterday.