by Dr. Eric Schansberg Libertarian Writers' Bureau http://www.writersbureau.org
Last Thursday, I was heartened to read news that my church, Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, had collected $732,000 from its members (beyond its weekly giving) for tsunami relief in Southeast Asia. That partially offset news I had read previous Thursday-- as reported in Wall Street Journal-- that tariffs imposed on Sri Lanka were nearly $250,000,000 in 2003.
Nearly all of that amount was taxes imposed on Sri Lankan textile industry. And amount imposed on that one foreign industry exceeded all of tariffs imposed on all trade with all six Scandinavian countries-- despite fact that those countries export nearly 12 times more to U.S., have about 10 times more GDP than Sri Lanka's, and have people whose per capita incomes are far higher than those in Sri Lanka.
Why does this occur?
The textile industry in this country is one of many special interest groups that benefits from having their competition restricted. They and their politicians find it favorable to impose discriminatory taxes on foreign producers and American consumers.
In contrast to obvious benefits for politicians and protected industry, costs imposed are subtle. How many consumers know that they pay significantly higher prices for clothing because of these laws? How many voters care that foreign workers and investors in poor countries are impeded in their ability to sell product within wealthiest market in world?