The trouble with people is not that they don't know but that they know so much that ain't so.
-- Josh Billings/1874

The two hour stream of consciousness diarrhea dump by The Manchurian President at CPAC was all the rage for the MSNBC pundits last night. I didn't watch any of the dump, of course, and each pundit took bit of it to task. Lawrence O'Donnell picked The Manchurian President's assertion that the US, stupidly, ended tariffs in 1913. O'Donnell went on to say that tariffs continued.

They're both half right, alas. It is true that prior to the sixteenth amendment, various attempts to have an income tax were struck down by the courts, so the amendment was necessary to have the tax. It is true that prior to the income tax, most of Federal revenue was from tariffs. It is true that the reason for the tax was to provide a more predictable revenue. It is true that substantially lowering tariffs was seen as a way to improve life for the 99% (not a concept then, of course). It is true that the income tax was imposed on the 1% (ditto).

But tariffs weren't totally eliminated in 1913. Just gutted in favor of the income tax. And tariffs returned with a vengeance during the Great Depression.

So, they're both half right.

Views: 54

Comment by Ron Powell on March 5, 2019 at 9:15am


Comment by Robert Young on March 5, 2019 at 9:24am

well, The Manchurian President is full fledged ass.  fur shur.

Comment by Ron Powell on March 5, 2019 at 9:26am

"During the late nineteenth century, various groups, including the Populist Party, favored the establishment of a progressive income tax at the federal level. These groups believed that tariffs unfairly taxed the poor, and they favored using the income tax to shift the tax burden onto wealthier individuals."

Comment by Robert Young on March 5, 2019 at 9:39am

we read from the same economists.

Comment by Ron Powell on March 5, 2019 at 10:07am

"...And tariffs returned with a vengeance during the Great Depression..."

"...tariffs unfairly taxed the poor..."

If tariffs unfairly taxed the poor and the Great Depression resulted in widespread poverty, why did tariffs return "with a vengeance", at a time when the development of programs to help the poor was at a historical high?

It would seem that tariffs during the Depression would have been counterproductive, as well as couterintuitive..

Comment by Robert Young on March 5, 2019 at 10:22am

stupidity.  it was believed that closing the economy would raise wages.  wrong then.  wrong now.  the wiki article:

Comment by Robert B. James on March 5, 2019 at 1:31pm

Robert: the closing of the economy is the death of the empire, as mandated. The Bible banging JDR team had their  run, and went loopy. Trumpism is exactly what it is, and why it is. Wilson and Eisenhower were duped, the Bushes and Clintons were duped...and this dupe is not even smart enough to get the joke. 

We are just one arm of the Octopus that will grow back, the head was never here, except for a visit now and then. God save the Queen, because I won’t, but next to Trumpism the Monarchy looks  brilliant and benevolent, unless you know history. But that was the old British Empire, before rebranding. The new one looks forward to a new new world order, with China and India to more than make up for any loss of revenue that the failing America’s now fail to provide. How convenient. 

Comment by koshersalaami on March 5, 2019 at 3:55pm

I’m not 100% sure wrong now. Depends if the US starts producing more of what we normally import. If we go protectionist, it’s not something we’re starting. We’ve seen artificial limits on imports to major trading partners, particularly China and Japan, that weren’t called tariffs. Frankly, I think we’d have been better off if Carter and Reagan had considered tariffs on Japanese goods. 

Comment by Robert Young on March 5, 2019 at 4:49pm

tariffs are just taxes paid by Americans.  it's just a simple fact that capital seeks cheap hands, no matter where or who gets hurt.  the problem now facing capital is that labor continues to shrink as a part of the cost of production in manufacturing.  China gets around that by using 19th century production methods.  American capital uses robots.  either way, American labor is screwed.  and, either way, American business needs more money in the hands of consumers, but they've killed the golden goose.

to the extent that China steals intellectual property and such, rather than just making widgets, tariffs don't work.  and they haven't.


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