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Most American conservatives today are committed to free market capitalism, which includes free trade and opposition to tariffs. By that standard, Donald Trump, who advocates a protectionist economic policy and who is imposing steep tariffs in his trade war with China, is not a conservative. But there is another conservative ideology, an historically older version, that employed tariffs as part of its nation-building agenda.
The “paleo-conservative” Pat Buchanan tells the tale. From Patrick J. Buchanan, “Tariffs — The Taxes That Made America Great”:
Tariff - Sales - Consumption - Tax - Consumer
A tariff may be described as a sales or consumption tax the consumer pays, but tariffs are also a discretionary and an optional tax.
If you choose not to purchase Chinese goods and instead buy comparable goods made in other nations or the USA, then you do not pay the tariff.
China - Sale - Beijing - Trade - Surpluses
China loses the sale. This is why Beijing, which runs $350 billion to $400 billion in annual trade surpluses at our expense is howling loudest. Should Donald Trump impose that 25% tariff on all $500 billion in Chinese exports to the USA, it would cripple China’s economy. Factories seeking assured access to the U.S. market would flee in panic from the Middle Kingdom. . . .
A tariff is a tax, but its purpose is not just to raise revenue but to make a nation economically independent of others, and to bring its citizens to rely upon each other rather than foreign entities. . . .
Nation - Goods - Trade - Loss - Independence
Once a nation is hooked on the cheap goods that are the narcotic free trade provides, it is rarely able to break free. The loss of its economic independence is followed by the loss of its political independence, the loss of its greatness and, ultimately, the loss of its national identity.
Read the entire essay, which rehearses how the lawmakers of the American founding imposed tariffs on...
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