By supporting Trump’s disastrous trade policies, his apologists are fomenting the destabilization of a world order of prosperity and peaceful coexistence created by free trade. These new “conservatives” are not conservatives, but Big Government advocates who seek the reins of power.
Andy Puzder has emerged as the latest apologist for the Trump Administration, unashamedly praising Trump’s disastrous trade wars. Mr. Puzder is the former CEO of CKE Restaurants (Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s). In 2016 he was proposed to be Secretary of Labor in the Trump Administration, but he didn’t make the cut due to false #MeToo allegations.
Mr. Puzder now spends most of his public life writing articles and books that flatter President Trump and criticize the Left for ignoring how wonderful everything is under the Trump Administration. Usually people who do this are aiming at political office or a spot on Fox.
His latest articles praise Trump’s trade war against China. They border on the bizarre for a person claiming to support free markets and free trade, but not surprising for a wannabe media star.
His most recent egregious article came from Fox News where he urged Americans to be patriotic and back President Trump on his latest threat to further ratchet up tariffs on Chinese imports. Mr. Puzder sees the trade war as America’s valiant struggle to reform China’s communist regime. He calls our relationship with China “corrupt” because we have let Americans buy Chinese-made products. He says:
Throughout this 30-year period, China’s government has exploited the situation, using its leverage over American companies to steal their intellectual property. China has also used its leverage over American consumers and our elected representatives to make us look the other way as it puts American businesses out of business with abusive trade practices.
Like a politician, Mr. Puzder twists the facts, purposefully obfuscates the real issues, and appeals to patriotism to justify what is in essence Trump’s war on American consumers and exporters.
This trade war is not about China, nor intellectual property theft, nor Americans getting screwed by China. It’s about politics. Trump is a one-dimensional megalomaniac who believes his anti-free trade and anti-China policies will get him re-elected. Painting China as a menace is just a cheap political shot. He doesn’t care that the fallout harms American consumers, manufacturers, exporters, and farmers, as well as our trading partners, and destabilizes the world, making it a more dangerous place.
Mr. Puzder claims to be a free market guy, but he favors massive government intervention to put “America” ahead of “China” in what he sees as a “national competition.” And he gets everything wrong, proving he is just another right-wing America Firster. His new brand of conservatism is more like pre-Enlightenment conservativism which favored a central government with absolute powers. Our Founders thoroughly rejected this concept.
First of all, there is no “national competition” with China. “America” doesn’t do business with “China”—individual American companies do business with individual Chinese companies. That’s why it’s called free trade. It doesn’t matter that “China” doesn’t “play fair” by subsidizing businesses which export to the US. Who benefits from this “unfairness”? It is us, American consumers who have access to cheaper products which makes all of us more prosperous. Who is harmed? Chinese citizens who see their government use their hard-earned taxes to subsidize inefficient companies.
To punish these Commies Mr. Puzder approves punishing Americans by raising tariffs on Chinese imports. These tariffs are a tax on us: we pay more for these products and are poorer as a result. This is stuff Adam Smith figured out in 1776. I guess Mr. Puzder never heard of comparative advantage and how free trade makes everyone better off. He ought to read Wealth of Nations before he opines beyond his expertise.
Mr. Puzder then labels China as a currency manipulator as justification for raising tariffs. That is a joke since the U. S. is one of the world’s biggest currency manipulators. We keep devaluing the dollar, and, since the dollar is the world’s reserve currency, China needs to maintain its parity with the dollar so they can function in international trade. The chaos caused by Trump is hitting all currencies hard; China is just marking to the market.
He claims that China is destroying American jobs. If so, why is U. S. employment at an all-time high? If China has destroyed US manufacturing, why has manufacturing in real dollars been about the same 12%-13% of GDP since 1947? Puzder is resorting to false narratives to get the attention of the Trump media claque.
Yes, the Peoples Republic of China is a repressive, corrupt totalitarian state. But it’s not America’s job to break the regime. History has proven that those kinds of policies haven’t worked well in the past.
If you really want to take the regime down, trade with China would help. Free trade and economic liberalization have made life much better for the average Chinese citizen. That is good for the world—countries are less likely to declare war on trading partners, partners whose citizens are benefited by the relationship. What we should be doing is promoting economic welfare with China, not economic warfare. Trump’s trade policies are destabilizing the world and a less stable world is a more dangerous world.
China isn’t the enemy here, it’s Trump and America Firsters like Mr. Puzder. His brand of Hobbesian conservatism wants to hold the reins (and whip) of power. George Will in a recent column put it nicely:
America’s current administration has “national conservatives.” They advocate unprecedented expansion of government in order to purge America of excessive respect for market forces, and to affirm robust confidence in government as a social engineer allocating wealth and opportunity. They call themselves conservatives, perhaps because they loathe progressives, although they seem not to remember why.
* I have written often about free trade. For those wishing to better understand how trade works, here are some articles that will help:
The Thirty Dollar T-Shirt
US Declares War on China
Trump’s War on Us
U.S. Trade Deficit Pushes Unemployment to New Lows