Are there really people who think this way?

I read with a sense of deja vu the letter by Tim Worstall (6 November) in which he suggested that charging zero tariffs on imports would make us richer. I’m still confused about how this might be the case.

True, charging zero tariffs on foreign goods should make them cheaper, provided that we ignore the drop in the value of the pound associated with Brexit (which, of course, makes imported goods more expensive), but how do we pay for these goods if other countries insist on tariffs on our products, potentially reducing our exports? Further, as tariffs are a form of tax, how might we compensate for the loss of revenue?

Surely zero import tariffs with existing export tariffs would adversely affect our trade balance, and make the country – or at least those of us who are not rich – poorer. Imports alone do not generate wealth for any but the few rich importers. Or is that the point?

It would seem to be logical that it is not imports that is the problem in post-Brexit British trade, but exports, with the tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.
Karl Jones

Lowering tariffs makes things cheaper. The only people who benefit from this are the importers, not the consumers of the imports?

19 thoughts on “Are there really people who think this way?”

  1. Similarly and oddly, the people who decry import tariffs are the same people who want to raise tax revenues at every turn.

  2. Again I can’t see any comments for you to reply in Tim.

    Have I missed them or are they not there?. And if not why not?

  3. ” Imports alone do not generate wealth for any but the few rich importers. Or is that the point?”

    Then by that logic exports alone do not generate wealth for any but the few rich exporters.

    So what’s you problem, exactly?

  4. Better to keep your gob shut and have people think you’re an idiot, ‘Karl’, than open it and have them know it.

    I’d like to ring fence the socialist paradise of Liverpool and impose 50% tariffs on all goods which cross the city line, from U.K. or overseas. The city council could collect that additional 50% to spend as it sees fit. Meanwhile, Manchester would become a free trade city. We’d have to build a wall between the two – we could call it the Whippet Curtain – to stop people fleeing Manchester for Liverpool, obviously.

    Later, say after a couple of years, we could roll this out to other big left wing cities if they still wanted it.

  5. Noel – slight slip of the eye there: he writes 1/2 dozen but the essential hilarity holds. It’s shameless and wonderfully naive log rolling and to include the Tuber’s dismissive comment about another author is priceless.

  6. ” Imports alone do not generate wealth for any but the few rich importers. Or is that the point?”

    Sent from my iphone

  7. Deja vu?- did Carl fight a rear guard action to keep the corn laws? Carl cheap corn is a good thing… just ask hungry poor people.

  8. Free Trade is the pons asinorum of economics. There are whole nations that don’t understand – France, Germany and the USA, for starters.

    I wonder why Mr and Mrs Jones named their ickle baby Karl.

  9. “Further, as tariffs are a form of tax, how might we compensate for the loss of revenue?”

    But we (the UK) don’t receive that tariff income, the EU treasurery receives. them. So leaving the EU customs union and abolishing EU customs union tariffs would be revenue neutral for the *UK* treasury.

  10. You’d think that holding out the prospect of lower prices (from non EU countries anyway) would be a big vote winner for the government and goodness knows the gov needs some good news. I guess even if they wanted to do it this is (a) a bit too much to publically run in the faces of the EU at this stage in the negotiations and (b) the EU may well insist on us maintaining said tariffs as part of any trade deal with them (and we may be weak enough to go along with this).

  11. “Karl Jones


    Indeed indeed. There are any number of pseudo intellectual commie twats here talking that sort of shit over their cappuccino. Funnily though, when Donald Trump espouses this protectionist bollocks they all go posting “Who pays for Trump’s import tariffs?” articles on Facebook.

  12. The problem with the cheap corn argument is that abolishing the Corn Laws led to cheap bread but, as Karl Marx predicted, British industrialists lowered wages decreasing home demand for Brit goods and services.Demand for the products of the workshop of the world was supposed to come from these countries producing cheap food products to whom we would sell finished manufactured goods but they developed their own industries to reduce manufactured imports.We could not now produce our own food and so were pretty generally fucked especially when imports of food were stopped by submarine warfare The Birmingham based Chamberlains succeeded in setting up a kind of Imperial Common Market at the British Empire Economic Conference in 1932 but Churchill was determined to ruin that in his bid to stop Hitler at all costs one of those being to allow the Americans to ruin the imperial trade arrangements,which they got Churchill to agree to in the Atlantic Charter even before they were forced into the war by the Japs.

  13. @ DBD Reed
    Peel’s primary concern when abolishing the Corn Laws was to alleviate the impactof the Potato Famine in Ireland.
    Your blatant ignorance is betrayed by your assertion that submarine warfare existed before Jules Verne’s novel.
    Also by claiming that “Das Kapital” published in 1867 predicted the impact of the repeal of the cornlawsin 1846.
    Also claiming that “the Chamberlains set up” a conference when Stanley Baldwin was PM and that Churchill was determined to ruin it to stop Hiltler a year before Hitler became a threat to Germany, let aloner Europe.
    It is, I agree, one of the stains on Roosevelt’s CV that his determination to destroy the British Empire included an attack of a mutually beneficial trade ahgreem,ent between coutries that he did not rule. However, that was not something that Peel could reasonable anticipate 90-odd years earlier nor even your favourite, Karl Marx, 20-odd years after Peel repealed the Corn Laws.

  14. @J 77 Karl Marx is no especial favourite of mine: a dimwit smear.
    We do agree however that Roosevelt and the Americans were bent on destroying the Imperial Preferential Trade Area and that Churchill was prepared to let it go if this got the US into the War.He signed away the Imperial Market in the Atlantic Charter without the US agreeing to lick Hitler.
    There is also the delicate matter of Churchill’s sponsorship by Gold Standard “enthusiast “Sir Henry Strakosch (Churchill had lost all his money and Chartwell was on the market) who wanted Churchill to oppose Hitler pre- war not because of the latter’s genocidal ambitions but because his financial guru Hjalmar Schact was issuing money without first borrowing from the banks (and so had put six million unemployed Germans back to work in ways similar to those proposed by Positive Money now and put into practice by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War previously).Following this admittedly sketchy argument , it might appear that the scenario was that Churchill was paid to destroy Hitler because of the German challenge to the Gold Standard; Churchill sacrificed the outcomes of the Imperial Economic Conference in Ottawa 1932 (see Net)to get an alliance with the States who finished off the Imperial Preferential trade arrangements with Lend lease.)It is noticeable in the Wikipedia account of the Imperial Economic Conference that the Empire had determined not to rely on the Gold Standard any more in 1932.
    We are re-fighting all these issues now: preferential trade areas; why does the government have to borrow money at interest off the banks?

  15. @ DBC Reed
    Churchill opposed Hitler for many reasons, one of which was that he had read Mein Kampf, but the Gold Standard can hardly be realistically claimed to be a major one, if at all. Churchill admitted that puttting the UK back on the Gold Standard at the behest of Montague Norman was one of his worst errors and Hitler did not present a threat to the gold standard since it didn’t exist in Germany after 1914 – in fact the hyperinflation caused by the Weimar republic’s printing presses were a significant factor leading to the rise of Hitler.
    History relates that Churchill was thinking of selling Chartwell in 1938 and again in 1946 both of which were long after he started to oppose appeasement.
    The Atlantic Charter declared that the lowering of trade barriers was a joint aim – that is NOT the same as tearing up Imperial Preference. You might remember that we still had preferential trade with Commonwealth countries until the UK joined the EEC in the 1970s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *