Unless you have lived like an ostrich, neck-deep in the sand, over the past six months, you know one of the most critical issues looming over the United States at the moment is the "Trade War" with China. I use quotations around the term trade war because, for one, it's a ridiculous over-reaction to economic policy that is only used to rile up citizens over the issue, and two, it's merely a silly term. When you read the phrase "trade war" know that you are reading about imposing tariffs on foreign countries, something that has been around in the United States since the founding of our great nation. The idea is pure in thought but difficult in execution, jack up the prices on foreign goods to entice "buy American" campaigns and bring more money into the economy. If all goes to plan, the foreign country still longs to be in the American market and will pay the inflated tariff, while American business grows and flourishes. When done correctly, it works magnificently, as an economics professor and Forbes Magazine, contributor Brian Domitrovic points out, when tariffs are used for revenue, it has been a smashing success in our country. That is where the problem lies though when it is simply used for revenue it works, but after the implementation of the dreaded income tax in the 1910s, tariffs weren't needed only for income, they were used a political tool as we see today. With American citizens paying an income tax, the American government turned it's back on the ideals this country was founded upon, and thus, took the onus of revenue away from trade with foreign countries and forced American people to pay for the American government. The government has thus inflated into an albatross that bleeds money, and the tariffs imposed after have done nothing to alleviate the economic strains on the American people. With our worldwide economy of 2019, most of our products, especially the electronic devices we use daily, are imported from China and other foreign markets, when those countries are forced to pay a high tariff, it doesn't hurt them, it hurts the American consumer. There is even a direct correlation between the Great Depression and the high tariffs of the 1920s, but I'll save that for another time. When tariffs were implemented correctly, relatively low for revenue purposes, they worked for this country, but today all they serve to do is raise prices for items we use every day, and coupled with the sales taxes, income taxes and numerous other ridiculous taxes (like a fee to live, looking at you Huntington), the American people are the ones punished for economic tug of war between America and the rest of the world.
Matthew A. Perry is a history teacher at C-K Middle and writes about the odd side of history at www.theoddpast.com.