When the USA was first formed, income from trade tariffs provided 95% of the funds needed to run government. By the 1915, only 30% of the Federal budget was provided through trade tariffs, and currently only about 1% of the Federal budget is provided by tariffs.
Advocates of trade tariffs say they tend to encourage domestic production of goods and keep wealth circulating domestically. It is the circulation of wealth that produces more wealth in terms of more products and improvements. Tariff advocates claim that free trade causes the U.S. to lose wealth and manufacturing jobs; they say free trade discourages industry, makes the U.S. too reliant on other countries for basic needs, and encourages people to over-consume cheap and unreliable imported goods, which, in turn, contributes to waste. Advocates of trade tariffs also want to reduce pollution by discouraging the inefficient practice of shipping raw materials overseas and shipping finished products back.
Anti-tariff groups argue that free trade allows corporations to manufacture goods cheaply in other countries where wages are low and regulations are less strict. Free trade tends to result in greater profits for U.S. stock holders. Anti-tariff groups claim consumers have the right to cheap goods, whose prices are set by the free global market, and they claim that consumerism is necessary to improve the economy. They note that while trade tariffs can benefit areas in the U.S. where industry is located, tariffs can harm areas in the U.S. that rely almost exclusively on agriculture and need to sell corn, soybeans, cotton and other crops overseas. Therefore, they claim that trade tariffs are unfair and, as such, unconstitutional.
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