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Tariffs Made America Great

“Make America Great Again” will, given the astonishing victory it produced for Donald Trump, be recorded among the most successful slogans in political history.

Yet it raises a question: how did America first become the world’s greatest economic power?

In 1998, in The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy, this writer sought to explain.

However, as the blazing issue of that day was Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, it was no easy task to steer interviewers around to the McKinley Tariff.

Free trade propaganda aside, what is the historical truth?

As our Revolution was about political independence, the first words and acts of our constitutional republic were about ensuring America’s economic independence.

“A free people should promote such manufactures as tend to render them independent on others for essentials, especially military supplies,” said President Washington in his first message to Congress.

The first major bill passed by Congress was the Tariff Act of 1789.

Weeks later, Washington imposed tonnage taxes on all foreign shipping. The U.S. Merchant Marine was born.

In 1791, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton wrote in his famous Report on Manufactures: “The wealth…independence, and security of a Country, appear to be materially connected with the prosperity of manufactures. Every nation…ought to endeavor to possess within itself all the essentials of national supply. These compromise the means of subsistence, habitation, clothing, and defence.”

During the War of 1812, British merchants lost their American markets. When peace came, flotillas of British ships arrived at U.S. ports to dump underpriced goods and to recapture the markets they’d lost.

Henry Clay and John Calhoun backed James Madison’s Tariff of 1816, as did ex-free traders Jefferson and John Adams. It worked.

In 1816, the U.S. produced 840,000 yards of cloth. By 1820, it was 13,874 thousand yards. America had become self-sufficient.

Financing “internal improvements” with tariffs on foreign goods would become known abroad as “The American System.”

Said Daniel Webster, “Protection of our own labor against the cheaper, ill-paid, half-fed, and pauper labor of Europe is…a duty which the country owes to its own citizens.”

This is economic patriotism, a conservatism of the heart. Globalists, cosmopolites, and one-worlders recoil at phrases like “America First.”

Campaigning for Henry Clay, “The Father of the American System,” in 1844, Abe Lincoln issued an impassioned plea: “Give us a protective tariff and we will have the greatest nation on earth.”

Battling free trade during the Polk presidency, Congressman Lincoln said, “Abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government must result in the increase of both useless labor and idleness and…must produce want and ruin among our people.”

In our time, the abandonment of economic patriotism produced in Middle America what Lincoln predicted, and what got Trump elected.

From the Civil War to the 20th century, U.S. economic policy was grounded in the Morrill Tariffs, named for Vermont congressman and senator Justin Morrill who, as early as 1857, had declared: “I am for ruling America for the benefit, first, of Americans, and, for the ‘rest of mankind’ afterwards.”

William McKinley, the veteran of Antietam who gave his name to the McKinley Tariff, declared four years before being elected president: “Free trade results in our giving our money…our manufactures and our markets to other nations. …It will bring widespread discontent. It will revolutionize our values.”

Campaigning in 1892, McKinley said, “Open competition between high-paid American labor and poorly paid European labor will either drive out of existence American industry or lower American wages.”

Substitute “Asian labor” for “European labor,” and is this not a fair description of what free trade did to U.S. manufacturing these last 25 years? The results have been some $12 trillion in trade deficits, arrested wages for our workers, six million manufacturing jobs lost, 55,000 factories, and plants shut down.

McKinley’s future vice president Teddy Roosevelt agreed with him: “Thank God I am not a free trader.”

What did the Protectionists produce?

From 1869 to 1900, GDP quadrupled. Budget surpluses ran for 27 straight years. The U.S. debt was cut two-thirds to 7 percent of GDP. Commodity prices fell 58 percent. America’s population doubled, but real wages rose 53 percent. Economic growth averaged 4 percent a year.

And the United States, which began this era with half of Britain’s production, ended it with twice Britain’s production.

Under Warren Harding, Cal Coolidge, and the Fordney-McCumber Tariff, GDP growth between 1922 and 1927 hit 7 percent, an all-time record.

Economic patriotism put America first, and made America first.

Of GOP free traders, the steel magnate Joseph Wharton, whose name graces the college Trump attended, said it well: “Republicans who are shaky on protection are shaky all over.”

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

49 Comments (Open | Close)

49 Comments To "Tariffs Made America Great"

#1 Comment By Dakarian On July 27, 2018 @ 1:18 am

Didn’t Trump just agree with the EU to effectively a partial free trade agreement, with no tariffs, no subsidies, and no blocks?

How is that jiving with concept of him being protectionist?

#2 Comment By Tancred On July 27, 2018 @ 1:21 am

A Pat Buchanan protectionist article warms the cockles of my heart. This is why I still read TAC.

For anyone interested in a longer treatment of the free trade issue I would recommend Ian Fletcher’s “Free Trade Doesn’t Work: What Should Replace It and Why” along with Ha-Joon Chang’s “Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism.”

Almost all of the major industrial powers used various state-directed policies to become wealthy. Practically none of them became rich through textbook free trade.

Many rich countries still use industrial policies to favor domestic producers and the native workforce. The American elite pushes free trade ideology and allows the native-born workforce to suffer from unfair foreign competition and then gives American workers moralistic lectures about education and personal behavior instead of good economic policy.

Oh, and by the way, American elites are also hypocrites because they are fine with supporting protectionism for the wealthy in the form of policies like longer and stronger patent and copyright protections. Dean Baker has written on this issue numerous times. Here is just one article of his:


#3 Comment By Kurt Gayle On July 27, 2018 @ 5:27 am

At the end (page 328) of his monumental 1998 book “The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy” Pat Buchanan thanked Sir James “Jimmy” Goldsmith, “a generous friend who passed away in 1997…who did more than any man of his time to alert Britain and France to the terrible price that absorption into the European Union means for those nations. If the cause of enlightened nationalism prevails in the West, as it shall, the tragedy will be that Jimmy is not there to host our victory party.”

In 1994 Sir James Goldsmith was interviewed by Charlie Rose. In just 30 minutes of that interview (1:25 – 15:25 and 33:58 – 48:23) Sir James provided the most concise explanation of the damage to American society and to other societies by the so-called “free trade” agreements. A quarter century later it is this 30 minute-long Goldsmith statement that remains the classic, definitive argument in favour of American economic nationalism:

#4 Comment By Frank D On July 27, 2018 @ 5:58 am

We should go back to wooden ships and steam engines too. Has this author never heard of global supply chains and computer networks?

#5 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On July 27, 2018 @ 7:24 am

excuse me, but would not “Tariffs Made America Great from 1791-1927” be a better title?

#6 Comment By BradH On July 27, 2018 @ 7:34 am

Battleships were also once the preeminent projection of power for a navy, but along the way naval warfare changed with the advancement of aircraft, submarine and missile technologies. Ship to ship battles more or less became obsolete as a result.

Likewise, there’s a reason why you have to go all the way back to pre-depression years and the 18th and 19th centuries for examples of when tariffs were a successful tactic. Since WWII, the world has spent decades integrating the major and minor economies across all industries. Trade is now a utility and the US is as beholden to it as a suburbanite is to the grid. New tactics and structural changes are needed to bring our adversaries in line, not battleships from centuries gone by.

#7 Comment By bkh On July 27, 2018 @ 8:02 am

Well it is not like the current system is working. Let’s give the tariffs a shot. Some of our enemies are dressed in suits and have titles like “CEO”. Concern about foreign business invasion should be higher priority than army invasions.

#8 Comment By Scott in MD On July 27, 2018 @ 8:12 am

Actually, the question it raises for me is why it was OK for a GOP candidate to imply that America was not great in the first place.

#9 Comment By General Manager On July 27, 2018 @ 8:13 am

Every econ. student learns about the theory of competitive advantage. It presupposed a commercial level of international morality (A. Smith). China works best when they practice GDP (gross domestic pollution) and enjoy the fruits of our free technological transfers. We are not an equal trading partner with China If their currency falls and their economy stutters – fewer aircraft carriers for them to scare their neighbors. We let too many countries that claim to be allies take serious advantage of us. Let the usual suspects stand up and deny.

#10 Comment By Moishe On July 27, 2018 @ 8:20 am

“ Globalists, cosmopolites, and one-worlders recoil at phrases like “America First.” “.
Wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that it was slogan used by American nazis, would it? Anyone who knows basic American history should have recoiled at such a phrase.

#11 Comment By Kris On July 27, 2018 @ 8:25 am

Free trade has generated a lot of wealth for America (as a whole), though it has made sections of America less well-off. Instead of trying to spread the golden eggs more fairly, you are trying to kill the goose. Good luck with that!

Every policy tool has its periods of success and failure. Against the success of the American system produced by 19th century tariffs can be laid the failure of the Great Depression brought about by the Smoot-Hawley tariff. Whether you believe 2018 is more similar to 1930 or to 1850 is up to you, but keep in mind that making the wrong bet will prove very costly.

#12 Comment By Fred Bowman On July 27, 2018 @ 9:43 am

Unfortunately with so much of what’s left of US manufacturing dependent on parts manufacturered outside of the US, all these tariffs are going to accomplish is higher prices on goods no matter where they’re manufacturered. And the American consumeer will pay the price. You need to remember Pat that this not America of 1964 when over 90% of all goods that American consume where actually manufactured here in the US.

#13 Comment By Rabiner On July 27, 2018 @ 10:00 am

someone who doesn’t understand economic growth patterns and their relationship to how developed a country’s economy is.

#14 Comment By Butler T. Reynolds On July 27, 2018 @ 10:08 am

PB has always had a few marbles missing on the topic of free trade and capitalism. Too bad.

#15 Comment By Roy Fassel On July 27, 2018 @ 10:09 am

That was then. This is now. Then, slavery was part of the equation. Then, women could not vote. Much of the…..only property owners could vote. This is a different world. American corporations which earn much of the revenues for retirement plans ..401K etc….got most of their growth outside of the United States. Disrupting this system would be a risk to the world order, which always leads to war.

#16 Comment By Johann On July 27, 2018 @ 10:34 am

One of the few Buchanan articles I pretty much completely disagree with. There are way more factors in an economy than just international trade. The biggest factor that made our economy strong way back when was very small government. In fact the national government got all of its funding from tariffs. No income or any other tax on its citizens.

Trade wars should be for the sole purpose of forcing other countries to drop their barriers to free trade at which point we drop ours simultaneously. The tariffs and industry subsidies should be temporary until the other countries agree to dropping theirs. We should have reciprocal trade agreements with each country. This is exactly the Trump admin’s policy. The final objective is NOT to have tariffs and subsidies. Back then, an alternate objective was to fund the federal government with tariffs. Now, the government is so absurdly and unnecessarily huge that tariffs could not ever finance but a tiny fraction of our grossly bloated monstrous govmint.

#17 Comment By Michael Kenny On July 27, 2018 @ 10:53 am

There’s no sign that Trump actually beleives in tariffs. He merely uses threats of tariffs to bully others into accepting his version of globalised free trade. The EU, of course, Mr Buchanan’s pet hate, was founded on the basis of a large internal market protected by a high tariff wall. It was forced into free trade by the US in the 1980s under the first president who was elected on the “MAGA” slogan: Ronald Reagan, Mr Buchanan’s idol. If he believes in tariffs, therefore, Mr Buchanan should be rejoicing that the EU has been proved right and Ronald Reagan proved wrong.

#18 Comment By Reader On July 27, 2018 @ 11:25 am

Often I am astonished at how wrong Mr. Buchanan can be on some issues when he is so right on others. On this issue, he is astonishingly wrong.

America grew despite tariffs, not because of them. It grew because of enormous swaths of land being taken by settlers. Europeans did not have that ability. Tariffs heavily favored some industries while punishing others. Right now we have $12 billion pledged to help farmers hurt by Trump’s tariffs — hurt by tariffs, not helped by them.

Last weekend was a town festival whose biggest sponsor was our town’s biggest car dealer. In a corner of the festival grounds, several new cars from the dealership were parked for people to ogle. I ogled them. On the windows of each vehicle were stickers that listed features, price, etc. Included was information on the car’s origins. These leaped out at me:

Chevrolet Malibu: 50% parts from US/Canada; 25% parts from Mexico; rest from elsewhere. Assembled in USA.

Kia Optima: 49% parts from US/Canada; rest from Korea/Asia/elsewhere. Assembled in USA.

There’s virtually no difference between the US company Chevy car and the Korea company Kia car.

Steel tariffs help US steel makers and harm companies in the US that use steel. Ditto for everything else where tariffs are applied. Narrow swaths of industries are helped as much broader swaths are hurt. Consumers see choices reduced and prices raised as a result of tariffs. It is a form of social engineering by government.

US manufacturing is churning out huge amounts of goods. Automation has reduced the number of people needed in manufacturing. And many manufacturers are having trouble finding enough of the people they do need.

If a country wanted to hurt the US, it could do so by reducing access to goods and raising prices on things we buy. Tariffs imposed by the US government on imported goods do exactly what countries would do to hurt the US.

#19 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On July 27, 2018 @ 11:30 am

Free trade theory is patently ahistorical. Remember when “ahistorical” thinking was THE thing that conservative thinkers identified as erroneous? How times have changed.

#20 Comment By Locksley On July 27, 2018 @ 12:42 pm

In the past, Mr Buchanan has opined that the Civil War was caused, not so much by slavery as by tariffs that helped the North and hurt the South.

#21 Comment By Saad On July 27, 2018 @ 1:54 pm

What about automation and AI in manufacturing? Now it costs less and requires fewer workers to manufacture any item consumed in the US. The scarcity of jobs across industries has to do more with automation than anything else. Just look at chartered accountants, there are now computer softwares that can perform jobs rendering thousands of jobs for highly qualified accountants obsolete.

#22 Comment By jon On July 27, 2018 @ 2:45 pm

Globalists are either too stupid or are just liars. The results of American policies have destroyed the American Middle Class and created one in China. Besides what they call trade is not trade at all. Trade occurs when country A produces a product more efficiently than country B, while country B produces a product more efficiently than country A, so each trades with other the product they produce more efficiently. This is what is called comparative advantage and it is beneficial to both countries. However, when one country moves its capital and production to the other country to exploit cheap labor this is not trade; this is labor arbitrage. And this is what has destroyed American industry and left the United States with an expanding rust belt. High tariffs should be not only on steel and aluminum but on finished products as well. If companies don’t want to produce their products here then let them sell it to those to whom they pay twenty-five cents an hour. Let’s see how that works out. If they want to sell it in America, then they should make it in America.

#23 Comment By TJ Martin On July 27, 2018 @ 2:48 pm

Tariffs made American Great ? Best be reviewing your history and facts Mr Buchanan

Because the reality is .. On the best of days and even under a broadly liberal interpretation verging on blatant revisionism this article is the very epitome of misinformation verging on insular sycophant propaganda and lies .

Suffice it to say the last time the US imposed tariffs at the level Trump is pushing for ( along with immigration restrictions etc ) was in the 1920’s and we all know what came after despite the economy not being nearly a global as it is today . With the same result each and every time thru out history including Reagan’s misguided attempts at trade restrictions .

Economic collapse and either a severe economic recession or a flat out depression within two to five years

Leaving us with the only logical , historically verifiable and viable conclusion available

Tariffs DO NOT work nor do they benefit anyone

Ahh … but you just keep on telling yourself stories such as this Mr Buchanan in the vane hope that repeating them enough will finally make them true ( hint .. it won’t )

#24 Comment By Egypt Steve On July 27, 2018 @ 2:57 pm

Re: “No subsidies.”

That principle will not survive first contact with the Iowa congressional delegation. And an end to subsidies would mean the end of the coal industry, too. Does Trump have a path to reelection in 2020 that doesn’t go through West Virginia and the farm belt? No? Then forget about a “no subsidies” trading agreement with anyone.

#25 Comment By Sean On July 27, 2018 @ 4:49 pm

It should be noted that comparing the USA in 1869-1900 is far from comparing g “apples to apples”.

First of all in 1969 we had just recen tly ended the U.S. Civil War and half of the nation stood destroyed. We had just added millions of slaves to the labor market.

We added 8 states to the Union (Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Wyoming).

We were experiencing the height of the “Mineral Rushes” and limitless pasture land that came with those states.

The first (of many) trans-continental railroad.

The industrial age was born.

Great American age of invention (Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla etc.):
– Electric light bulb.
– Photographic film.
– Phonographic discs.
– Skyscrapers.
– The mousetrap.

When you look at all that, and you consider that the population has doubled, growth for that period should have been greater.

While I do not necessarily disagree with the premise of this article, this is a very unfair and extremely selective period of growth to examine.

#26 Comment By LM On July 27, 2018 @ 5:09 pm

Well lets introduce a little perspective. The republicans didn’t abandon tariffs and embrace globalism without cause nor did the democrats take up tariffs and localism without reason.

Eisenhower was faced with violent radical leftists unionizing US businesses and industries probably since the Bolsheviks seized power from the Czar in Russia (25-30years). Unions tried to shut down the US economy under FDR thru railroad strikes which failed because FDR nationalized the railroads under national security. Unions tried again to shut down the US economy thru strikes on Steel. Eisenhower was a general and generals don’t like to get caught with their pants down by enemies and antagonists so he responded to the radical over reach of unions by opening every industry that engaged in a national strike to imports. Today private sector unions have been eviscerated by imports and offshoring.

Democrats embraced localism and tariffs as the republicans were abandoning them because democrats wanted to protect the unions and their valuable union dues that financed democratic campaigns. As offshoring gained favor from wall street, foreign lobbyists and domestic lobbyists democrats abandoned localism for globalism and immigration.

Now that private sector unions have been eviscerated and the reason for their existence absorbed into govt agencies like the Department of Labor and OSHA and Unemployment Insurance and Disability, etc…there is little reason for private sector unions to return. It was only a matter of time before a Trumpian candidate returned who would retake ownership of tariffs and localism.


#27 Comment By Youknowho On July 27, 2018 @ 5:30 pm

Tariff might be necessary, as operations might be necessary.

But no one wants to be operated via in chain saw. And, alas, this administration is wielding a chain saw, and bankrupting farmers/

#28 Comment By E Kent On July 27, 2018 @ 6:35 pm

Tariffs are great when your trying to bring an agrarian, undeveloped country into par and competition with countries that are far more advanced along the industrialization path.

Not so great when your a fully industrialized nation that slowly falls behind because the people running your businesses find it more profitable to ship production elsewhere or play stock manipulation games instead of investing in improving their companies

#29 Comment By RD On July 27, 2018 @ 6:47 pm

Tariffs clearly benefited U.S. in the 19th and early 20th Century. Perhaps free trade worked well in the mid 20th Century when America was the leading manufacturer and exporter. Open and mostly one-way trade isn’t working in favor of the average American family now. A scaled tariff applied only to nations with which we have an unfavorable balance of trade and if so, proportionate to that deficit could work.

Maintaining critical domestic industries like steel is essential to national security. We have already put ourselves in a very dangerous situation having already allowed China to destroy our rare earth mineral industry.

Automation seems to be all the more reason to fix our trade policy. There is likely to be a net loss of jobs due to AI and we need those robotics engineering jobs in the U.S. rather than in China.

Trump has few core values but he has been remarkably consistent over the past 30 years or so in his criticism of free trade. While certainly unconventional in his political style, Trump realizes that trade was a major factor in breaking through the Blue Wall to win states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

If the US had any real leadership in the past 40 years, we would have done something about trade long ago rather than strengthen our greatest economic and military rival. Unfortunately, China understands that US is divided and incapable of long-term thinking. As a dictatorship, China can wait out the Trump years for another free trade loving Republican or establishment Democrat.

#30 Comment By Phil On July 27, 2018 @ 9:22 pm

If tariffs are so great, why is Trump’s avowed end goal to get countries to reciprocally lower trade barriers with the US?

#31 Comment By Tom Ryan On July 27, 2018 @ 10:24 pm

Free trade is the English ideology that led to her decline. England has tried to impose it everywhere.


#32 Comment By Reader On July 28, 2018 @ 8:25 am

Just read this on the front page of today’s (Saturday) Chicago Tribune:

Headline: “Why cost of beer could rise”

Subheadline: Aluminum tariffs may trickle down to hit consumers”

Tariffs hurt the countries whose governments impose them. The US aluminum makers like the tariffs because they get to raise prices. Buyers of stuff that use aluminum — including beer in aluminum cans — are hurt by the tariffs.

#33 Comment By Howard Owens On July 28, 2018 @ 11:19 am

Buchanan needs to re-read the Declaration of Independence and pay close attention to the complaints about British protectionism. The Founders believed in free trade but then tariffs weren’t solely a protectionist tool. They were accepted as the sole legitimate way to raise revenue. They were less distruptive to domestic growth because we were yet an industrialized nation and direct taxation of the people was very light. This helped with the velocity of money and minimized the burden of tariffs. The world, and this country, has changed a lot since then. We also had our greatest period economically (the 1950s and 1960s) in the immediate aftermath of GATT. Almost everything we know what f today’s prosperty (and we are more prosperous than ever in every socioeconomic level) is that’s to post-GATT free trade.

#34 Comment By Bobo On July 28, 2018 @ 11:26 am

Tarrifs are an old tired way to promote domestic industry.

Kennedy and Reagan proved tax policy to be much more important.

The current tax reform needs to be augmented by an investment tax credit (ITC) for American Made Capital goods deployed in America.

This a supply side method that will incent modernization of the American manufacturing base thereby increasing productivity and productivity capacity. It will promote growth while keeping inflation at bay.

The ITC should include investments in training and retraining the American workforce for the modern workplace and all of its technology driven tools.

Software companies, IIOT and other modern industrial technologies still skilled people.

#35 Comment By Ken T On July 28, 2018 @ 3:38 pm

GDP growth between 1922 and 1927 hit 7 percent, an all-time record.

Hilariously ironic, considering what happened less than two years later. While still under a Republican administration, by the way.

Oh, and from Wikipedia, one finds this:
In a 1995 survey of American economic historians, two-thirds agreed that the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act at least worsened the Great Depression.[66] Most historians and economists partly blame the American Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act (enacted June 17, 1930) for worsening the depression by seriously reducing international trade and causing retaliatory tariffs in other countries. [emphasis added] Sound familiar?

#36 Comment By Jay On July 28, 2018 @ 7:32 pm

LOL Pat how did that 1920’s high tariff policy work out? You conveniently stop your cherry picking tour of history in 1927 as if the reader doesn’t know what happened next. Another fact conveniently avoided is that before WWI the U.S. was the country most complained about as not protecting intellectual property, like China today. The U.S. didn’t become great in world trading and production until after WWII but lets not talk about that we’ll just stop at 1927 and call it quits since old line conservatives think everything after FDR is not history and needs to be forgotten.

#37 Comment By Jon Rale On July 28, 2018 @ 7:59 pm

In 1870 70% of the population was working in the production or sale of agricultural products.

That number was 2% most of my life. I am 55.

The US needs only 1% of its population working in agriculture to grow an excess of food, which we can’t even sell overseas.

I have read that our industrial production has not fallen nearly as much as the number of industrial jobs. We never had more than 25% of jobs in manufacturing anway. I suppose over the next 60 years the industrial/manufacturing number of jobs will fall while production rises, just as it did for agriculture.

1% of jobs will be agricultural. Something like 1% will be manufacturing/industrial.

Whoever is producing all that stuff, it won’t be human beings in the U.S.

The rest of our economy will be whatever service industries we can come up with: sitter, janitor, teacher, lawyer, app maker, nail tech, foot tech, physical rehab, doctor…

Doesn’t seem nearly as much fun as building ships, cars, boilers, or farm equipment.

It would make more sense to just have the AI/robots do it and give people money until the AIs have a revolution and get the vote or take over.

I am stringing up my Les Paul as I type for my return to rock and roll after a 30 year hiatus. I won’t be working in a factory.

My Fender Twin is still too damn loud, but tis crunchy man. Anyone want to join the band? better than being a nail tech or lawyer. Ther’ll be nothing but service jobs and drummer is better than sitter.

As for tariffs, who cares? Mr. Buchanan is taking a pro-tariff position here, his opponents are against them.

Is there really a Platonic Form/Ideal of tariffs that we should be obeying?

No. Tariffs are just tools to encourage or discourage behavior.

The administration has articulated no overall policy, made no projections about the economic future. We have no idea about why they are doing anything except for words that have no discreet economic meaning, like “rape,” or “unfair,” or “stealing us blind.”

I want someone in the administration to do the math and articulate it, so I know what they are doing. I can’t support it or opppose if I don’t know. In general, if forced, I will not support an executive, administrator, bureaucrat, or politician who can’t articulate a policy or decision.

Articulating ideas or practical policies based on some number crunching is part of the job description for executives, administrators, bureaucrats, or politicians. I don’t seem to hear any of that, so knee jerk opposition on my part.

As for myself, working on the Voodoo Chile solos. I’m actually better now than I was 30 years ago.

Rock on.

#38 Comment By rivercity On July 28, 2018 @ 9:02 pm

Great article – love it!

#39 Comment By Bud On July 29, 2018 @ 6:26 am

As Calvin Coolidge famously stated, ‘The business of America is business!

#40 Comment By Inspector General On July 29, 2018 @ 9:55 am

Pat rightly points out that tariffs, correctly applied, are a force for good, despite what the free-trade hypnotists would have us believe. Insanely high US trade deficits were going to have to change at some point, no? That’s what ‘free trade’ got us, trade deficits. For years the price to access US markets was simply too low. Now the big question is, is our industrial base even recoverable? From another point of view, who benefits from mass importation of goods produced by quasi-feudal conditions? That’s a question Americans don’t want to ask, because they’re hooked on low-priced products. However more and more people are making the connection: ‘free trade’ has gotten us in a hole. One option would be to ask our trading partners to gradually raise their standards to meet American working conditions and wages, to level the playing field. That prospect is dim. Far easier to impose tariffs, however small or gradual, to favor the American worker and companies. Problem with Trump is he may be going too far too fast, which may have the effect of a wrecking ball.

#41 Comment By morganB On July 29, 2018 @ 6:37 pm

Like Reagan would say… “there you go again”.

That was then, this is now! And you can’t compare the two. Why? This is a GLOBAL ECONOMY.

And I thought all ever-Trumps were smart.

#42 Comment By Allen Thrasher On July 30, 2018 @ 12:08 am

But one reason the “American system” of high protective tariffs worked to extent it did might be that in the course of the 19th century the United Kingdom committed itself to free trade, which I assume must have been applied to the British Empire as well. If so, it meant the US had free access to the markets of a quarter of the population of the world, while deterring entrants to its own markets.

#43 Comment By Wendell Bud On July 30, 2018 @ 3:54 am

This article certainly brought out the post- New Deal neo-cons who rant and rave and pull their hair at the mere mention of “protectionism.”

Sorry feller, but the concept is still apt to the modern world, just as shipping and railroad freight are still used, albeit with diesel and electric motor instead of steam.

There’s a reason the USA has declined shamefully in production and industry — becoming a nation of salesmen, truck drivers, stock-brokers, and welfare recipients — and that is because of the exact lack of protectionism as outlined in Buchanan’s article.

#44 Comment By collin On July 30, 2018 @ 10:22 am

Under Warren Harding, Cal Coolidge, and the Fordney-McCumber Tariff, GDP growth between 1922 and 1927 hit 7 percent, an all-time record.

And what happened in 1929 – 1932? The US horded so much capital that it did not know what to do with it. Want another example? Japan 1990 and look what has happened to their economy the last 28 years?

1) The biggest problem with merchanalist policies is they suppress real wage increases and tariffs are very regressive taxes. Consider the famous Corn laws of Great Britian in yesteryear.

2) In terms of the average worker it helps manufacturing workers at the cost of service or agricultural worker. And most workers are in the service sector so Trump’s will probably continue to decrease real wages for most US workers in retail, sales, health (nurses) and retirees. Trump tariffs is probably only accelerating the evidently closing of Sears if you want see a large US nationalism company at risk.

3) Trump’s economy today is similar to Obama economy in 2014 in which higher growth that is mostly funding more oil drilling investments. So real wages are decreasing at this point due to energy inflation. (TBH there is nothing Trump/Obama can do about this as this micro issues.)

4) Considering Point 3, Trump tariff and trade policy is incredibly poorly timed as he be over-blamed for inflation and declining real wages with near full employment.

#45 Comment By BobS On July 30, 2018 @ 12:10 pm

“Tariffs Made America Great”

Calling Mr. Smoot, calling Mr. Hawley…

#46 Comment By BobS On July 30, 2018 @ 12:15 pm

“PB has always had a few marbles missing on the topic of free trade and capitalism.”

You had me at “PB has always had a few marbles missing…”

#47 Comment By John On July 30, 2018 @ 8:42 pm

Dear Mr. Buchanan,
You should re-wind your history lesson to a bit earlier. You’d notice that this country actually got its start by opposing tariffs.

#48 Comment By Dr. Diprospan On August 1, 2018 @ 7:41 am

I agree with Mr. Buchanan that the tariff helped to make America the great.
The question is how long? Tariff wars are known since antique times. Winners improved the economic situation in their country for a while. Economic improvment causes satiation and obesity in the population. Satisfied people work worse, the economy begins to stagnate. Meanwhile, the hungry, muscular barbarians, whose nomadic way of life is more primitive, conservative never stop searching benefit that can be drawn from the stationary civilizations.
In my opinion, the Americans were great when they overcame fears and arrived on analien continent with sailing ships, a wheel, a horse, iron and the Bible.
Now China promotes the so-called 华侨, hua chiao – the Chinese living in other countries. 500 thousand Chinese students study abroad. 70% do not return to their homeland.
In Russia, the program works to encourage the settlement of the eastern regions of the country. People get land plots for free, preferential loans.
In the US, residents receive cash subsidies for living in Alaska, Detroit, and some other areas of the country.
In the 80s of the last century a political refugee from the Soviet Union received 10,000 – 25,000 dollars on arrival in the US and green card in addition. Is not it time to make a 180-degree turn and start encouraging preferential tariffs for Americans if they decide
to settle in the uninhabited regions of the planet?
An alien environment mobilizes and unites people. There is one small step from “deplorables” to the great American pioneers.

#49 Comment By Don Smith On August 3, 2018 @ 6:39 pm

What’s the correlation between tariffs and economic disaster that follows. Republicans can’t stop themselves from making the same stupid mistakes over and over and over. They put far too much stock in their ability to make their stench dissipate simply by blaming all their incompetence, failure, corruption and treason on the left.