Saturday, February 17, 2018

Dave Chappelle understands trade better than Donald Trump

In a recent comedy routine, Dave Chappelle summarized President Trump’s position on trade relations with China by saying, “I’m gonna go to China, and I’m gonna get these jobs from China and bring ‘em back to America.” Chappelle then replied, “For what, so iPhones can be $9,000? Leave that job in China where it belongs … I wanna wear Nikes, I don’t wanna make those things. Stop trying to give us Chinese jobs.” Dave Chappelle gets it.

While initially being a "never Trumper," I have warmed to Trump. His appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and his appointees of other conservatives to the judiciary, the passage of pro-growth tax cuts, the defeat of ISIS, and his slashing of Obama era regulations are the accomplishments which are at the forefront of my reason for warming to Trump. I still have reservations about Trump, however. His demeanor and his lack of ideological commitment to conservative orthodoxy concerns me. While I am beginning to think that Trump's anti-trade rhetoric may be more posturing than real and while I am pleased that he has not started an international trade war, it is dangerous however to spread ignorance about the benefits of trade.

While I am supportive of combating currency manipulators and theft of intellectual property, the benefits of trade should not be ignored and trade should not be demonized. I do not want to grow my own food, and make my own shoes, and build my own house, and make my own car. Trade increases one's standard of living. The same principle that applies to trade in general, also, applies to international trade. If we are better at marketing a product, financing a product, delivering a product and retailing a product than making the product, let people in some other country make it and we will do the rest. To require than products be American-made may cost more jobs than it saves. As an example, if we say all steel used in construction of an American oil pipeline must be made in America, we may be able to build fewer pipelines due to the higher cost of American steel than we could if we imported steel. The few jobs saved by insisted on "American-made" may be fewer than the jobs lost due to the higher construction cost.

A bad thing that has resulted from Trump's anti-trade rhetoric is that many people who think of themselves as conservatives now process an anti-trade mentality.  On the other hand, a good thing resulting from Trump's anti-trade rhetoric is that Democrats, who were the party captured by unionist who always take a  knee-jerk anti-trade position, are so anti-Trump that they now are pro-free trade. Maybe, on balance, the cause of free-trade comes out ahead. In any event it is reassuring to hear a popular figure like Dave Chappelle explain the benefits of free-trade. 

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