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'Kicking the Consumer'

April 28, 1985

Your editorial (April 5), "Kicking the Cat," could just as well have been titled, "Kicking the Consumer." Any trade or import restrictions placed on the Japanese will cause import prices to rise and will be paid by the consumer.

It would be truly unfortunate if our Congress, in an attempt to increase tax revenues, blames the Japanese for our own problems. The Japanese did not create the budget deficits that help to keep the dollar strong by attracting foreign capital to invest in our high-paying Treasury securities. But by blaming the Japanese, Congress would accomplish two goals: (1) putting the real blame on someone else and (2) making the public feel good about punishing somebody for our own problems.

There is little doubt that our exports would increase if the Japanese did make their market completely open to our exporters. Since they don't, their citizens are paying higher prices. If the Japanese government punishes its citizens in this manner, should we as consumers be equally punished by our government?

Should a consumer be blamed for selecting the best buy for the dollar? I thought that principle was the foundation of our own free-market economy. Why should we punish ourselves for the actions of the Japanese government, by having to pay our government tariff and import fees collected at the dock? This roundabout way of taxation should be seen for what it is, a hidden consumer tax.

Finally, the argument raised continually about trade deficits, in that we somehow lose when we spend more importing than we sell exporting, is very misleading and economically unsound. As we spend our dollars buying imports, those dollars must again reach our shores to have value. As a surplus of dollars accumulates abroad, it forces foreign products to raise in price, making them more expensive. This is the very principle that has made our own economy work so well, yet is ignored constantly in the press and in our government.

If you want to pay higher prices, support trade restrictions. If you want lower prices, support free trade, even if its only unilateral. Our government has become large enough without interfering in free trade by forcing consumers to pay higher prices, not to mention the related agencies that will have to be supported to monitor the restrictions.


Mission Hills

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