Tariffs and Delusions

Lenin may or may not have said that the capitalists would sell him the rope by which he would hang them, but the proverb is assigned to him for good reason.  Any revolutionary who dreams of destroying the free-enterprise system can count on a valuable ally within the system itself, in the form of the capitalists’ own incorrigible naiveté.  What Lenin might have said a century ago, Chinese president Xi Jinping can just as rightly say today.

Two events in early March tell the tale.  As Xi arranged for the Chinese Communist Party to remove the term limits on his presidency, Donald Trump faced an uproar from the serried ranks of America’s pundits, economists, and establishment politicos for having dared propose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum in response to Chinese market-flooding practices.  At the moment Xi afforded the West’s free-market idealists proof positive that decades of globalism had failed to turn the People’s Republic into anything like a liberal democracy, those idealists were busy assailing the American President for favoring our own country’s industry over our most dangerous rival’s.

To be sure, we are not simply selling the Chinese the steel they will use to win a war against us: Our suicidal liberals have instead, in effect, been selling them our very capacity to make steel.  The justification for this supposedly lies in the benefit Americans...

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