American Politics is so polarized along the left-right divide that moderate journalist Tim Pool says we're approaching an event horizon: if we go far enough, nobody will be able to have a civilized discussion about politics again. In other words, if we don't learn to talk to each other instead of screaming at each other, it's all Charlottesville from here. It is to be hoped that Pool is incorrect — even Pool hopes Pool is incorrect. In the interest of keeping his glum prediction from coming true, here is something that nearly everyone in America except President Trump agrees is stupid: President Trump's impending trade war with everyone from Europe to Canada. Come on, dude.

What is a trade war?

A trade war begins when one country places tariffs on goods coming in from another country in a particular industry. This is usually done to protect that industry at home by making it harder for outsiders to compete. The "war" part happens when the country they have targeted decides that two can play at this little game, and taxes the first country's products in return. For example, Trump is angry because China is making it more difficult for US companies to sell metals like steel and aluminum to Chinese factories, so he has decided to use an arcane trade law to penalize non-US steel and aluminum. Unfortunately, this also includes steel and aluminium from our allies, like the EU and Canada.

What's wrong with this trade war?

I hate to make an appeal to authority, but if you're going to consider everyone alive an authority, this is universally perceived to be an incredibly stupid move, with everyone from Goldman Sachs to conservative pundit Ben Shapiro to the New York Times looking on in slack-jawed disbelief at the way the president is goofing around with the levers of power, to paraphrase Shapiro. (OK, Paul Ryan is with Trump, at least when it comes to tariffs on China, but Ryan has been digging himself a pretty deep hole lately, too—and he still counsels the president to focus on China and not harm our allies.)

When you begin a trade war, you wind up hurting both countries' consumers in an attempt to protect a single industry.

This tariff might save a few jobs in metals industries, but it is also going to raise the prices for every other industry that depends on that industry. For example, some fear that increasing the price of aluminum through an ongoing trade war is going to hurt breweries that use aluminum cans and even—heaven help us—increase the price of beer.

(Here's Tim Pool on the singularity:)

Further, the EU and Canada are already angry at us about this. They're both raring to impose tariffs of their own in retaliation, making it harder for their own consumers to buy essential goods such as Levis, booze, and Harleys from us—a terrible tragedy for the people of Europe.

In other words, a rather silly and self-destructive policy on the part of China's crypto-Communist government—one we should have just ignored—is about to turn into a global free-for-all of self-destructive tantrums, and who knows where it might end?

Silver lining

On the other hand, maybe Trump's hijinks can bring everyone together. If the far left sees people like Ben Shapiro agreeing with them, maybe we can start to see each other as humans rather than alien beings who believe in things only a monster could think.

And then maybe we can stop setting college campuses on fire and having brawls every time the left meets the right. Trump wanted to unite America; his stupidest moves might, ironically, be his best chance to succeed at that.

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