Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Smoot-Hawley redux

In 1930, with the United States in the midst of a king-hell economic downturn, a couple of typical genius politicians convinced their fellow congresscritters to raise tariffs on the import of more than 20,000 goods. Against the advice of more than 1,000 prominent economists, President Herbert Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act into law.

The effect?

U.S. imports decreased 66% from US$4.4 billion (1929) to US$1.5 billion (1933), and exports decreased 61% from US$5.4 billion to US$2.1 billion, both decreases much more than the 50% decrease of the GDP. ... Unemployment was at 7.8% in 1930 when the Smoot-Hawley tariff was passed, but it jumped to 16.3% in 1931, 24.9% in 1932, and 25.1% in 1933.

Glad the politicians have learned that lesson. Oh, wait. Looks like they haven't. Not content to just impose "cap and trade" on American industry, Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) want to slap tariffs on goods from countries whose own idiot pols don't adopt similar schemes.

Me, I'm fine with a tariff ... on bullshit. Let me know how much it comes to for two overstuffed sacks, and I'll try to scrape up enough money to export Waxman and Markey to some locale more suitable to their dispositions. Pyongyang, perhaps.

Friday Update: The Calvinist Right's answer to Perez Hilton, Robert Stacy McCain, covers Waxman-Markey as legislative bacchanal over at The American Spectator.

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