The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Thursday, December 04, 2003

In 2000 America elected a "conservative pro-market" Republican to replace the incumbent president, a "liberal socialist" Democrat. In March 2002 this president decided to prove his fidelity to small government by imposing steel tariffs, as a means of pandering to states inhabited by steel corporations. As anyone could have predicted, this outraged other nations and threatened to spark a trade war, so the "pro-market" president had to back off and eliminate the tariffs.

This will presumably infuriate the steel-producing states -- and with such perfect timing, just eleven months before the 2004 presidential election! If Bush had refused to implement the tariffs in the first place in 2002, then the whole flap would have blown over by now. Better to refuse to do someone a favor than to give them a boon and then take it away.

I am not usually in favor of European attempts to hamstring the Bush administration, but in this case Dubya got exactly what he deserved:

The EU carefully chose its target list to cover a range of products from oranges to pajamas that would inflict maximum political pain in key swing states that Bush is hoping to win in next year's presidential race.

(Interesting random side note: The graph associated with the article lists the top steel-producing states or regions, for some reason grouping clusters of states together. What do you think is the top steel-producing state? It turns out to be not Ohio, West Virginia, or Pennsylvania, but Indiana. The graph's emphasis on regions makes a second and third place listing impossible. Here is an Ohio steel industry blurb from 1999 ("On the Steel Front") that lists states by value of steel sold. At that point Ohio was just ahead of Indiana; third and fourth were Pennsylvania and Illinois. Interestingly, Washington was seventh, just behind Alabama. West Virginia was nowhere to be seen, but it's possible that West Virginians commute to Ohio and Pennsyvania to work in steel mills, or that all of these statistics are somewhat meaningless because they focus on the location of corporate headquarters rather than the location of the mills themselves.)



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