SEOUL — It is always funny what passes as principled “purity” in Washington.
President Trump wakens the American giant to the trade war China has been waging against us for decades, and all the principled purists along the Potomac begin bleating and sputtering about “free trade” and “protectionism.”
Because, yeah, the American economy is about to go dark and we are going to return to the stone age. We can’t even build a frigging wall without the entire political system on both sides of the aisle throwing a hissy fit.
They haven’t been giving us free trade all these years. They have just been the people in charge of all the so-called “free trade” agreements (hammered out by governments, of course) and so they like things just fine.
Of course, they do. They are the ones who have been deciding all this time who wins and who loses. Whose cow is sacred and whose gets gored.
True free trade would be the wonderful wild, wild west. Open the borders to trade and let the market sort it out. But this ain’t free trade and it never has been.
President Trump is the only person who has called these people on their lies. And he has repeatedly called everybody’s bluff by saying he would happily drop all tariffs with all countries.
Now THAT would be free trade. But the buzzards in Washington could not get fed that way so they would never agree to such a reckless plan.
Meanwhile, these people keep on defending the status quo where China wrecks our patents, steals our intellectual property and subsidizes Chinese industry with a keen eye toward destroying America’s industry.
Indeed, over the past few decades that America has been unbolting and shipping her factories overseas to China and elsewhere, “industry” has actually become a dirty word in America. Literally, a dirty word.
The country that invented the assembly line, opened the West with the steam engine locomotive and built the world’s first skyscrapers has become a country run by silk stockings who don’t even dirty their dainty little hands with paper greenbacks anymore. It’s all digital.
These people still cannot grasp Mr. Trump’s shocking election two and a half years ago. If that election was about any one thing, it was about work.
Mr. Trump’s entire campaign was a master class in reaching American workers and offering them a vision of a country that would let them work again.
Whether it was bringing back steel and coal jobs, cutting ridiculous federal regulations, standing up to China or stopping the flow of illegal immigration across the Southern border, his entire campaign message was tailored to workers and people who want to see America get back to work again.
Like the steel truss bridge over the Delaware River reads: “Trenton makes, the world takes.”
All this is why Mr. Trump’s escalating tariff war with China is so perfectly in keeping with his 2016 campaign. And Mr. Trump is laughing all the way to the Treasury, counting all the money coming in through his new tariffs.
All the free trade “purists” in Washington scoff that this is no way to fund a country. But before the imposition of the federal income tax in 1913, trade tariffs were a primary source of income for the federal government. Sure, the federal government was smaller back then, but isn’t that the point?
Anyway, is there anything more insidious and destructive to a free self-governed society than discouraging work? Well, that is exactly what an income tax does. It punishes people for working.
A consumption tax would be far fairer. Instead of punishing work, it would celebrate work. Workers once again could take home their entire paycheck. The only problem with a consumption tax is that it is so hard for the federal government to administer.
Unless, of course, you collected it at the border when tariffed goods arrived.
⦁ Contact Charles Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @charleshurt.