Don’t let history repeat itself…again


Rochita Ghosh

Tariffs, historically, have been instrumental in crippling the U.S. economy, which makes President Donald Trump’s March 10 executive order, which implemented a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent one on aluminum, troubling.
Throughout U.S. history, tariffs have typically resulted in distancing allies and lowering global trade. The latter results in less trade domestically, and less buying means a weak economy — and, in an extreme but plausible example, could lead to something similar to the Great Depression.
Worst of all, Congress used tariffs at the beginning of the depression in an effort to bring the United States out of it. In 1930, they passed the Smoot-Hawley tariff, raising the average import tax to 20 percent. In response, many countries instituted their own taxes specifically aimed at the United States.
This idea of using tariffs to promote American goods, while noble in thought, may backfire. Like the multiple countries that reacted to the Smoot-Hawley tariff by making their own, China reacted by condemning the action and filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization. There is little evidence that this could even go well; when former president George W. Bush instituted steel tariffs in 2002, the United States lost about 200,000 jobs, and that tariff is considered a part of what led to the recession in 2008.
The point isn’t that the tariffs will fail and hurt this country, although there’s a high probability that they will. The point is that despite the overwhelming evidence that tariffs will damage the United States, there are people that think this is a good move for the country. The point is that people didn’t pay attention in history long enough to realize that tariffs have almost never worked in the United States’ favor.
This newfound way of acting without thinking is hazardous to America’s future. People go through the pain of break-ups to learn how to have better relationships. A famous phrase from writer and philosopher George Santayana is that those who don’t learn from their past are doomed to repeat it, and if true, a second Great Depression may possibly be in the works.
Citizens must pay attention to the past to not make the same mistakes in the future, lest they suffer again for no real reason.