Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A feeble grasp on reality

One of the key themes of this political season has been Donald Trump's repeated assertions that he's going to make America great again, he's going to bring back the manufacturing jobs that vanished overseas, he's going to make it harder for countries like China to export cheap consumer goods to the United States. Polls of his supporters show that something liek 65% of them agree that protective tariffs are a good idea -- we do indeed need to stop the flow of cheap consumer goods ASAP.

Leaving aside some of the other questions most sane people have about Trump's campaign, I've got just one query this morning: just where do all those America First people plan to shop once the shelves in Walmart go bare? The last time I saw a statistic, something like 98% of the merchandise in Walmart came from another country. Ditto Family Dollar, Dollar General, and all the other cheap places to shop.

Actually, I have a second query. Just how loud are these same America First people going to howl when U.S. labor costs are factored into what are now incredibly cheap goods? One reason many businesses moved manufacturing overseas was to keep costs low. What happens when the price of their widgets climbs? Will people still buy them? Will they be self-reflexive enough to realize that they shouldn't be complaining because they got exactly what they asked for?

I doubt it.

I cheerfully predict that if and when Walmart ever ceases to be perceived as bargain central, consumers will howl like wounded banshees and be unbelievably angry that they're now stuck paying for the policies they pushed for. After all, if they truly believed that it's wrong to buy stuff made in China they wouldn't be shopping at Walmart now.


My space, my rules: play nice and keep it on topic.