On Boycotting Chinese Goods
by C.J. Maloney
by CJ Maloney
by CJ Maloney: With
Kabul Bank, At Last Afghanistan Embraces American Values
pleasures are enjoyed by the few, while the pain is shared among
the many. It is hard to think of a less desirable outcome.
had decided that day to teach my six-year-old son to play checkers
and so picked up a set at Wal-Mart for a mere $4.99. Life seemed
good, we happily set up the game, and all was going well until he
declared his red pieces able to "throw bombs" at my black.
A rout ensued. It was only afterward, while cleaning up the widespread
carnage, that I noticed the "Made In China" emblazoned
on the box. It was then I had my epiphany.
I finally realized, has officially replaced Japan as the "economic
threat" to America’s well being. Japan, come to think of it,
is so Duran Duran at this point. Their heyday was years ago,
their best economic export since 1990 has been Ichiro, and his baseball
career is nearing its end. The Red Dragon of China has taken center
stage in America’s Pantheon of Bogeymen. Congress appears suitably
frightened. Should I be?
the face of it yes, I should. According to the Census
Bureau, the US trade deficit with China has exceeded $200 billion
every year since 2005, hitting $252 billion in 2010. US manufacturers
claim millions of American jobs have been lost to the explosive
growth in China’s exporting industries. Yet, while China appears
to be an exporting powerhouse, like all politically subsidized
entities her manufacturing/exporting sector is punching above her
true strength. How far above, I am sad to report, is impossible
to measure, but that its strength is, in part, a pure fiction is
impossible to deny.
last. We are importing from China far more than we are exporting
to her, a clearly unsustainable trend, as if we don’t export to
her how can we pay for what we have imported? Avid mercantilists
never seem to wonder – if you only export and discourage imports,
how will you get paid for all the goods you are shipping to foreign
climes? The Chinese, I suggest, should take a moment and think about
what they are doing.
US Congress is certainly thinking about it, in that muddleheaded,
over-emotional manner that defines their every action. My local
senator Chuck Schumer has started up his own little PR machine with
constant brays of protest towards China’s "undervalued"
currency. These signal Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to pop
up like a groundhog from a hole and declare six more weeks of observed
Chinese currency manipulation, which strikes me as ironic since
the Chinese monetary authorities, sitting on a mountain of US dollar
denominated debt, are at the same moment deeply worried about America’s
versus pretty much everyone’s currency the Chinese yuan most
assuredly is, and that nation’s pile of $2.75 trillion (or thereabouts)
worth of foreign currency reserves proves the point. The best minds
of China’s political elite believe that engaging in currency manipulation
will increase their exports; and they are correct. But if they believe
that such a policy has no long-term cost they are fooling themselves.
cost to America’s manufacturers is obvious, and a recent
Bloomberg piece tells us "The Obama administration and
U.S. lawmakers say China’s currency policy gives the nation’s exporters
an unfair competitive advantage." An advantage, yes, but "unfair"
to whom, exactly? Who does this Chinese policy of export subsidies
benefit? The Chinese export sector and the American consumer. Who
does it hurt? The Chinese workers forced to pay for these export
subsides and US domestic manufacturers, as this flood of cheap Chinese
imports has decimated their customer base.
for the American domestic producers who are now busy lobbying Congress
for Chinese imports to be slapped with higher tariffs – a move which
would doubtless benefit their bottom lines – I am reminded
of Adam Smith’s take on such creatures in The
Wealth of Nations "They are silent with regard
to the pernicious effects on their own gains. They complain only
of those of other people." (Smith, I, 9, 24) I can’t help but
ask – where do you feel you have a right to the American
consumer? Who said we belong to you?
for "retaliation" against "China" are unjust
and irrational. To be forced to pay a higher price for something
that you could buy cheaper elsewhere is no way to run a railroad,
no country ever got wealthy by paying more where less would
have done just as nicely. Where the Chinese political elite is lambasting
the Chinese worker to benefit their exporters, the response of the
US Congress is to lambaste the American consumer to benefit
their domestic industries.
why should I, an American consumer, look a gift horse (dragon?)
in the mouth? A mercantilist policy is, at its terminus, a subsidy
for the consumers of a foreign country. It’s the political grandees
of Country A forcing their workers to give away sales rebates
to the consumers of Country B in order to benefit the exporters
of Country A. Does China believe it can get rich doing this?
has been proved beyond dispute by economic science that trade, in
and of itself, is beneficial to both parties. Unfortunately like
so much in life, something as innocent and necessary as trade is
turned into a battlefield as soon as the factor of power is thrust
into it. Trade between US and Chinese businessmen would present
absolutely no problem – and be of great benefit to both our nations’
peace and prosperity – if the big, college-educated brains, uber-patriots,
and arrogant central planners in both Beijing and D.C had minded
their own business, left their mitts off the currencies, and instituted
a simple, flat tariff on all imports for revenue purposes.
all I have said that may seem to welcome this subsidy of my consumerism
by Beijing, I am declaring a boycott. This decision is not taken
due to any sense of misguided patriotism or xenophobia, but purely
to stay true to the sadly unheeded clarion call of the great Karl
Marx, "Workers of the World, Unite!" All these Chinese
imports are "cheap" partly due to the political exploitation
of the Chinese working masses, all this to benefit a few Chinese
exporters. It’s unseemly, and I’ll have nothing to do with it. So
on my honor, I will forevermore buy only American made checker games.
of course, we still manufacture any.
[send him mail] lives and
works in New York City. He blogs
for Liberty & Power on the History News Network website and
His first book Back
to the Land (Arthurdale, FDR’s New Deal, and the Costs of Economic
Planning) is to be released by John Wiley and Sons in
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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