The title is the one question that I feel isn’t being answered in the whole kerfluffle about readmitting Russia into the G7 and Trudeau’s eyebrows.  I’d like to discuss it.

Plenty of noise is being heard about Trump “alienating our allies” and “starting a trade war”.  My own attitude is that our allies are generally a bunch of freeloading liabilities who have taken advantage of us for years.  They don’t deserve any special consideration, certainly not to the point that American workers are losing their jobs on account of trade deficits with those allies.  The sense I’ve had for several years is that the United States is generally taken for granted by the rest of the world, receives very little but criticism for what it does both good and bad, and should not do any more for other nations than is absolutely necessary for its own benefit.

America is making some long overdue changes to our foreign policy.  It’s nothing personal, we’re just sick of everybody else’s shit.  We want to either be allowed to sell our junk competitively in your countries or at least make sure that we have an advantage in selling other junk or buying your crap.  For the moment, we’ll be nice and keep your sea lanes open, but don’t count on it for much longer.  Whether you like it or not, it appears that my view is shared by the Trump Administration and that’s the way it’s going to be probably even after his term of office ends.

I get that Germany, Japan, the UK, and Canada etc are upset that the president we elected to do what he is doing is doing it, especially since we have been quietly allowing these sorts of lopsided arrangements for decades.  But let’s say that the current trade agreements we have with our G7 partners are bad (which is hard as hell to determine).  I don’t understand why anyone–particularly Americans–would think that we should accept it forever.  Would anyone like to try to make that sale with me today?

It’s not that I’m heartless.  Sure, I don’t care at all about the Germans, British, or Japanese but I do hate to see the Canadians getting kicked around.  I still love you guys and hope you know that you are being screwed over by your own government’s dairy products tariff.  Even though I’m all America First these days, I don’t think you should have to cross the border just to get cheap milk for your cornflakes or whatever you have for breakfast when you’re not eating round bacon.

Put aside for a moment the wisdom of how Trump is resolving our trade deficits (and yes, I know it’s sort of murky what the trade deficit with Canada is and I don’t even think there really is one) or the appropriateness of playing Trade War Chicken with the G6.

What I’d like is a real discussion about how fair or unfair our current trade deals really are.  Additionally, does anyone have the opinion that even if they are unfair, is it something we should continue to ignore in favor of world stability or whatever?

15 comments

  1. I think you should drop your fanboi crush on trump long enough to look at these deals individually and pragmatically. We operate in a trade surplus with Canada, to say the very least. They choose to protect their dairy industry and insulate it, for whatever reason. We do this with sugar. If you look at the totality of the trade agreement with Canada, it is fair.

    I think you and the other trumpalos confuse your anger being pushed around as the American worker on trade agreements, where your anger truly lies with American corporate culture.

    Ford, GM, dodge, etc. decided to move production to Canada and Mexico. Why? Because they can make more money if they don’t have to pay the American worker. The film industry moved there to lower the cost of production for the same reason. The list goes on.

    The people who benefit from those moves are upper management, executives, the board, and share holders of the company stock, Those people are callous to your needs as a worker, not Canada (or trade agreements WE agreed to).

    THAT is where your angst should reside, in your fellow American that would shit can you in order to get a raise, or keep your wages stagnant because, fuck it, why not?

    Your zeal at the president’s petulant behavior is noted. It is also noted that you deem Russia an ally we should reward with commerce and legitimization for shitting all over our democracy and trying to undermine our national security. How magnanimous of you. Russia is a punk ass regime and if Canada or Mexico annexed parts of Texas or Washington and the British decided “well, fuck it. We wouldn’t fight a war to defend an ally so might as well just give Canada a preferential trade deal because Trudeau is ballsy you’d flip your fucking shit over it.

    The fact that you find absolutely nothing wrong with trump using the g7 summit to stump for a nation that has done NOTHING except provoke aggression around the world is fucking astounding. Well, not really you’ve been a Pom Pom waving cheerleader through the most despicable behavior of this administration so why wouldn’t you take the next step cheerleading a president that shit on our allies (or at least people who have been more polite to us than Russia) and use the meeting as a pulpit to stump for a dictatorial thug whose idea of democracy, free speech and commerce is as alien to him as it is to kim Jong un.

  2. I recall from my first year macro economics course that free trade was a good thing. I did a quick search on Wikipedia about the FTA between the US and Canada signed back in the late 80s. I found out that it was backed by one of the professors at my school, and I recall using his text book, so that may have been a bias opinion.

    I do recall the scare mongering of those against the Canada/US free trade agreement, which was basically that we would lose our sovereignty. It’s clear that it didn’t affect our sovereignty. According to Wikipedia, it’s less clear on the economic impact, and suggests that exchange rates have a larger impact on trade than tariffs.

    From a logical standpoint, I would imagine less barriers to trade are better as theoretically this should lead to cheaper goods That’s my non-nuanced opinion.

  3. certainly not to the point that American workers are losing their jobs on account of trade deficits with those allies

    Except that’s not happening. You’re proceeding from a false assumption; that these trade deals are bad. But as noted above, we generally run about even with Canada in trade. With Europe, same deal. And if you’re worried about the few tariffs that remain, you can mostly thank Trump for that as TPP would have removed a LOT of them. All the Japanese tariffs on American agriculture, for example, would have gone to zero. He’s a big deal about Canadian tariffs on dairy, but these are a tiny part of trade and match American tariffs on Canadian dairy.

    Even a trade deficit is not necessarily a bad thing; it is balanced by services and investment. You’ll notice when the trade deficit is smallest: when we’re in recession.

    The problem here is twofold:

    1) Trump has no relationship with the truth. He just says whatever he thinks and doesn’t bother to check if it’s true or not. Occasionally, it’s true by accident. Most of the the time it’s false.

    2) Trump has no idea how international deals work. His idea of a “deal” is one where he screws over everyone else. For example, his casinos where he managed to leach millions into his own pockets while the casino went bankrupt, then stiffed the contractors. Or his steaks, where he made millions from endorsement and the company when bankrupt. In fact, in his book, he specifically rejects the idea that deals should be mutually beneficial. So he sees deals — like Iran, like TPP, like NAFTA — where the other side is not getting screwed and decides they must be bad and he can get a better one.

    It’s, at its heart, a quasi-Marxist way of viewing the world: zero sum. He really thinks other countries prosperity makes us poor. We’ll be lucky if our economy survives this. And it’s going to decades to undo the damage he’s doing.

  4. Canada is one of our best customers of military technology. We share not only technology but military tactics, understanding and Canadian men have bled right next to our soldiers in many theaters of war.

    The puddly fucking excuse that Canadian steel, steel we purchase and use in our military technology we then sell to our Canadian allies is FUCKING PREPOSTEROUS to say that purchase is a national security issue. It’s an insult to anyone’s intelligence, particularly our most polite and stalwart ally. An ally that is very honorable, and doesn’t even create an issue of illegal immigrants with us.

    I can understand separating the wheat from the chaff in a NAFTA agreement that includes a partner that has been less well behaved than Canada, but trump’s outburst is not only beyond the pale, it’s ridiculous on its face.

  5. match American tariffs on Canadian dairy

    From everything I’m reading, this is incorrect. Canadian dairy is more expensive in general because the US subsidizes the US Dairy farmers to the tune of billions a year, whereas Canada doesn’t dump nearly that much into it – they control output, creating an artificially stable price/market. That keeps US Milk relatively low cost compared to Canada. Thus Canada protects its own dairy farmers (as they have every right to do) by imposing huge tariffs on US Dairy. There is no equivalent tariff on dairy from Canada to the US because it’s more expensive there anyway.

    Regardless, I like Shapiro’s take on Tariffs, but I also think it’s within our right to impose tariffs in kind, regardless of how stupid tariffs are in general.

  6. I guess we’ll find out if our dairy prices go up. Of course, fewer people seem to be drinking milk, which is already hurting the dairy industry on both sides of the border. IMO any other democratically elected leader would probably do what Trump has done if they felt threatened by foreign trade, which indeed our allies have done in the past. They didn’t seem to mind as long as he was talking about China and not them.

    Also what is the deal with Trudeau’s eyebrows?

  7. Judge Dredd, Pro Se says:
    JUNE 11, 2018 AT 10:45 PM

    I’ll give credit where it’s due. You managed to somewhat stay on topic for about 1/5th of that screed before letting your contempt for Trump supporters send it off into the wild blue yonder. I’m going to save myself some time and ignore you for the remainder of this thread.

  8. According to Wikipedia, it’s less clear on the economic impact, and suggests that exchange rates have a larger impact on trade than tariffs.

    Yes, this is likely true.

    From a logical standpoint, I would imagine less barriers to trade are better as theoretically this should lead to cheaper goods That’s my non-nuanced opinion.

    It’s good for the consumer, at least in the short-term. For the producer? It can be problematic and provide unfair competitive disadvantages. Did you have a chance to review the link on Canadian dairy tariffs? I’d like your opinion of it.

  9. I think the story is in line with tariffs being bad for the consumer. The high tariffs keep out the competition, and the oligopolistic milk producers get to charge high prices for their products. I pay just under $5 CAD for 4L (just over a gallon) of 1% milk (which incidentally comes in bags https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJC7ilyFsWY). That’s is 3.85 USD at today’s exchange rate. Whole milk (or as we call it here, homo milk, no one is triggered by that) is over $5 and some organic shit will run you close to $10. Is that bad compared to what you pay in the US?

    It would seem to me that tariffs favour producers and not consumers. I guess the next question is, how does that affect the job market? Milk is a staple, and I don’t think soy/almond/rice milk are real alternatives, so I imagine there is minimal effect on consumer demand. However, in relation to steel tariffs they are quoting potential devastating numbers for job losses, to the tune of 400,000, but who knows how believable that is (http://tradepartnership.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/232RetaliationPolicyBriefJune5.pdf)

  10. You’re proceeding from a false assumption; that these trade deals are bad.

    I didn’t say that. I said it’s hard to determine if they are or not, that nobody in the media is really discussing this aspect, and that I’d like to discuss it so I can make up my own mind. That’s one part.

    The other part is that if you can make the argument that the trade deals are unfavorable to the US, are we justified in putting the squeeze on our allies to improve them or are they just something we’re supposed to accept until the end of time?

    On the question of whether the trade deals are bad, I’m unsure. As to whether we’re justified in tweaking the G6’s nipples to get what we want if those deals are unfair, I’m not.

    But as noted above, we generally run about even with Canada in trade.

    When you factor in tourism, health care, and other services, yes, this is true. We even have a trade surplus most of the time, I believe. In terms of manufactured goods, no. There is a deficit and that’s where Trump is focusing his attention.

    And if you’re worried about the few tariffs that remain, you can mostly thank Trump for that as TPP would have removed a LOT of them

    And it would have done absolutely nothing for the currency manipulation that Santino mentioned above, which is indeed a greater problem than tariffs.

    Even a trade deficit is not necessarily a bad thing; it is balanced by services and investment. You’ll notice when the trade deficit is smallest: when we’re in recession.

    Which is fine…if that balance actually exists and isn’t one-sided. You can certainly convince me that we have a balance with Canada and I said so in the post, but what about the rest of the G7?

    1) Trump has no relationship with the truth. He just says whatever he thinks and doesn’t bother to check if it’s true or not. Occasionally, it’s true by accident. Most of the the time it’s false.

    And see, this is where we differ in our views on Trump. I think the competing viewpoints can be summarized as The Cartoon Villain versus The Master Persuader.

    In the Cartoon Villain view of Trump, he’s effectively a blustering lunatic who just randomly blurts things out like the whales in the South Park spoof of Family Guy. There’s no logical reason for anything he ever does or a strategy and yet he managed to become president like so many monkeys on typewriters can write Shakespeare.

    The Master Persuader view says that Trump uses the rhetorical bluster to frame arguments and start getting the public to view things on HIS terms. He does this all the time and it usually works for him whether we’re talking “Obama wiretapped me!” or “My button is bigger than yours!”

    He doesn’t have to get into a detailed and wonky discussion about tariffs and how they translate into job losses nor does he want to because the public won’t understand it anyway. All he has to do is start the debate about whether or not our allies are taking advantage of us and it’s fairly easy to demonstrate areas where they are.

    Once he does that, it puts the onus on his opposition to explain why letting other countries take advantage of the US at its own economic expense is actually a good thing. It’s a hard argument to win and I don’t know how you win it with him.

    He does this sort of thing all the time and I’m more than a little bemused how so many people still think he just randomly does things and is somehow still successful more often than not.

    Trump has no idea how international deals work. His idea of a “deal” is one where he screws over everyone else.

    But as the US president, shouldn’t we expect that he would want to represent our best interests above anyone else’s? Trump has been very explicit when he says he doesn’t want to be president of the world like Bill Clinton and he has even said he doesn’t blame the foreign leaders who have made favorable deals at our expense.

    Why shouldn’t he seek the most favorable deals imaginable for the US at every turn?

    He really thinks other countries prosperity makes us poor.

    I don’t see that at all. Instead, I think that he recognizes the reality that other nations are only able to thrive because of the economic and security guarantees that the US provides, but that other countries now benefit from the arrangement more than we do. If we’re not invested in the old system and stand to gain by eliminating it, why prop it up?

  11. Is that bad compared to what you pay in the US?

    It’s worse, but people could disagree over whether or not it’s tolerable.

    I have organic milk delivered from a local farm each week. For a gallon of 1% milk, I pay $7.99 USD but I get back $2.00 if I return the glass bottles (and I always do). So I pay $5.99 USD per gallon for top-notch organic 1% milk.

    If I decided to go to the local grocery store and bought a gallon of their brand’s 1% milk, I could get it from there as low as $3.95 USD/gallon in a plastic jug.

    I guess the next question is, how does that affect the job market?

    That indeed is the big question. As the author in the link I shared pointed out, Trudeau has basically staked his political career on the wellbeing of Quebecois dairy farmers to find out.

  12. That’s is 3.85 USD at today’s exchange rate. Whole milk (or as we call it here, homo milk, no one is triggered by that) is over $5 and some organic shit will run you close to $10. Is that bad compared to what you pay in the US?

    I pay about $2 a gallon for whole milk at Costco. That can fluctuate depending on what brand you buy, and what store, it can get up to $4 a gallon if you need to buy from a corner gas/convenience store for some reason. We also have the organic shit, and it can jump to upwards of $10. We also have a movement to allow “raw milk” meaning not pasteurized for certain people in the country. They sell it at a couple of stores near me, and it’s generally more than organic stuff.

  13. Yeah, Trump spoke about that in the post-Summit press conference. Images have a way of taking on their own narrative.

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