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Steal from the Poor, Give to the Noncompetitive

2009-09-30

It should be no surprise coming from Cato, but it’s good to see others coming to the realization that trade protectionism is nothing more than a regressive tax on the poor. It’s like a perverted Robin Hood: steal from the poor, and give to noncompetitive US businesses.

We all understand that those who have wealth should be willing to give their fair share for public health, clean streets, basic education, etc. You don’t have to be a socialist to realize that the budget for basic services has to come from somewhere, and taxes that disproportionately affect the wealthy are generally perceived as a fair solution.

But trade protectionism is aimed at cheap products and basic commodities, not luxury goods. Tires, food, clothes are all products that poor people desperately need. Raising tariffs in a recession is a disastrous policy that takes from the poor when they are least able to pay.

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