Trump and Navarro want to make the U.S. more like China… Why do we want to be poorer?

“More manufacturing.” “Without manufacturing we cannot be a great nation.”  So think about it.  The more like China the United States becomes, the more our average per capita income will drop to $5,000 per person (China’s), instead of $45,000 (ours now).  Which would you prefer?  A country of mostly well-paid knowledge workers, or a country of mostly low-paid factory workers?  Would you rather spend your day at Pixar, or at Whirlpool?

Think about the following (purely rhetorical) question to ask of President Trump:

Which country of the world is your model for the U.S.?  Which country should we aspire to be?  Which country has a “better economy” than the U.S.?  Germany?  Britain?  China?  Singapore? Norway? Vietnam?

Once the question is answered, we can really start talking about whether his proposed economic policies are coherent.  Until then, his policies are basically just about redistributing to his base.  He will be playing a zero-sum game that results in inefficiency, exactly what basic international trade theory tells us.  Sure we can protect banana growers in Montana from those low-wage Central American growers.   Is that going to make us “great”?  At the root of much of his incoherent policy, is a failure to distinguish between how “first” doesn’t necessarily make you “great.”

By the way, if President Trump cannot answer the rhetorical question, of which country he thinks we should emulate (which one is “greater” than the U.S.), then doesn’t that mean we (the U.S.) are still and already great?  So what is the big fuss about?

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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1 Response to Trump and Navarro want to make the U.S. more like China… Why do we want to be poorer?

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