Breaking News: Tariffs Make Things More Expensive

Dave Killion — February 10, 2013

The Canadian Senate spent over a year hearing from 53 ‘experts’ (special interests?) before producing a report on price differences between the U.S. and Canada. The results fail to impress

“Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers Association of Canada, roasted the report.

“Consumers are generally disappointed with the report,” said Cran, who’s based in B.C. “There’s no real remedies and there’s no new knowledge there.”

Hey Senators! Here’s a remedy for you: except for enforcing prohibitions against the use of force and fraud, the government should remove itself from every aspect of trade.

As to the report containing no new knowledge, I defer to Mr. Cran’s superior awareness. However, I have to confess that there was an item of which I have been unaware. You see, I have always thought tariffs were in place to protect domestic producers. But in some instances, that is no longer the case

“The senators noted hockey equipment as one area where it doesn’t make sense to have tariffs, including an 18 per cent mark-up on hockey pants imported from China. Americans face only a tariff of 2.9 per cent”….”Maybe we were trying to protect a Canadian manufacturer years ago, but they’re all coming from outside now” ….”The senators said they don’t believe any Canadian company still makes hockey pants.”

Well, isn’t that interesting. All this time, one of my arguments against tariffs has been that they may protect domestic industries, but they do so at the expense of domestic consumers. But now we have evidence that, at least in some cases, they do not even protect domestic industries. Which means they are simply another means of fleecing consumers. I guess I’ll have to add that little tidbit  to the intellectual pantry.

The good news is that a tariff review is under way, and it may turn out that consumers will be permitted to retain a little more of their hides. Won’t that be nice.

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