Brad DeLong on the tire tariff:
Let’s see… 250 million cars in America… need 4 tires per car… need new tires every 2.5 years. 400 million tires a year… $1.4 billion dollars a year… 10,000 worker jobs saved… $140,000 dollars per worker-job per year.
Looks like we could (a) let the Chinese sell us tires, (b) tax each tire by $2.50, (c) pay each tire worker who loses his or her job $100K a year, and we come out ahead: American households have more money to spend on other things, China has more jobs to help what is still a very poor country grow, and tire workers have higher incomes and more leisure as well.
But, you say, it would be stupid to impose a $2 a tire tax and use the money to pay each laid-off tire worker $100K a year.
That’s the point: when the policy you are adopting is worse for everybody than a policy you agree is stupid, the policy you are adopting is best characterized as really stupid.
Read the whole thing. It is excellent.