Obama to add tariffs to some Chinese tire imports -- Umm, has everyone in the United States forgotten their history?

car tires.jpgCNN is reporting that  "the president decided to remedy the clear disruption to the U.S. tire industry based on the facts and the law in this case.  The tariffs will start at 35 percent in the first year, then would decline to 30 percent in the second year and 25 percent in the third."

And of course, the Chinese have already started to retaliate.  China's commerce ministry said on Sunday it had launched an anti-dumping investigation into imports of U.S. chicken products and vehicles.

The last time somebody tried something like this, we ended up adding a word to our collective vobabulary to represent the fall out from that kind of short sighted thinking -- "Hooverville."

Now, I like the great outdoors too.  But the US already seems to have a problem with tent cities springing up and we don't need to do anything that would make it harder for those folks to get back on their feet.

So, it might be prudent for everybody involved to take a few deep breaths, back up and take another stab at trying to solve this problem.  For, if handled improperly, this exposes us all to a risk of unwinding the shreds of international cooperation that still exist.  And it has to be recognized that we live in an inter-dependent world, whether any of us out there like it that way or not.  It is what it is.

Back in 1930 when Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act into law, personally he was a vocal opponet just as Obama may be today, and Hoover called it "vicious, extortionate, and obnoxious" -- because he felt it would undermine the commitment he had pledged to international cooperation.  But he signed it anyway.  Let's hope that Obama wises up a bit and changes his tune on this.  Why?

Well, the world community has come to rely on something that we helped prod into existence in a little town in New Hampsire called Bretton Woods.  That set of discussions spawned what came to be known as the Bretton Woods Agreement which laid the foundation for the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.

The rest of the world has charted a course and is heading in a certain direction, trying to follow the principles of international cooperation woven through all those agreements -- yes sometimes kicking and screaming -- but still moving forward anyway all in more or less the same direction.  They still need us, but less and less each year as large parts of the world move away from being the 'developing world.'  

Hey, they are our rules. We made them up.  Not following them now makes us look rather capricious and makes it a hell of a lot harder for anyone out there to take us seriously when we advise them that they should follow our lead.  Often, we do not deserve to be followed -- for we can do a lot better than we have been doing. 

At least I hope so.