Monday, September 14, 2009

You lie?

There have been lots of nice words from the Obama administration about free trade but when it came down to a decision between a small, well-organized group and both consumers as a whole and America's foreign relations interests, they caved on tire tariffs.

The AP story never mentions the effect of the tariffs on workers other than than the relative handful who produce tires in the US. That effect, of course, is higher prices for tires. It is always hard to tell whether omissions like this represent bias or just incompetence. My personal rule (a variant on Occam's razor) is to assume incompetence in preference to more malevolent explanations when it suffices to explain the phenomenon at hand.

Note too that free trade is an area where economists pretty much all agree on the right thing to do, so the administration is bucking the science here as well.