Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"invertebrate as he is whenever labor barks" 

This is George Will on Obama's imposition of tarriffs.

In 2000, as a price of China's admission to the World Trade Organization, Congress enacted a provision for "relief from market disruption" to American industries from surges of Chinese imports. Actually, American consumers cause "disruption" in American markets when their preferences change in response to progress -- better products and bargains. Never mind. Congress said disruption exists whenever imports of a product "like or directly competitive with" a U.S. product increase "rapidly" and threaten "significant" injury to a U.S. industry. Examples of disruption include the volume of imports of a particular product, the effect of imports on the prices of competing U.S. goods and the effect on the U.S. industry.

Notice that China need not be guilty of wrongdoing: It can be punished even if it is not "dumping" -- not selling goods below the cost of manufacturing and distributing them. (That we consider it wrongdoing for a nation to sell us things we want at very low prices is a superstition to be marveled at another day.) And China need not be punished: Presidential action is entirely discretionary. So Barack Obama was using the sort of slippery language that increasingly defines his loquacity when he said he was simply "enforcing" a trade agreement.

Will notes that the effect of higher tire prices will be for more lower-income Americans to drive on bald tires, increasing accidents and maybe even traffic deaths.  This is evidence of the Obama Administration still engages in first degree thinking (as Thomas Sowell might argue.)  

Also to note from China:  I had on Bloomberg, which is my wont when in a foreign hotel; it's the only channel I watch both home and away.  When they switch to their Asian desk they often have this smug little man named Bernie Lo hosting a show.  (I note he has now changed his name to Bernard.  That should help.)  The show took about four minutes to stab at Sarah Palin's speech in Hong Kong yesterday.  I'll grant you that 80 minutes is too long a speech for anyone to give, but the snideness of Lo's asides were appalling for a major journalist.  Would it do for someone to remind him that his target and the owner of his network might be considered competitors for a presidential nomination?  

I'll avoid him future mornings.