Today we’re going to talk about tariffs and the need for a swift U.S. invasion of Canada.
I’ll get to that second part in a moment.
As you’ve likely heard, the United States has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from a number of countries around the world, including Canada, Mexico and all members of the European Union.
Before we get to the “Why are we doing this?” question, let’s answer this: What is a tariff?
A tariff is one of those things you have a vague understanding of but can’t fully explain. Every time you hear the word, you nod as if it makes sense and then, in the back of your mind, swear you’re going to Google it next chance you get, but then you get distracted by things more interesting than tariffs, which, if we’re being honest, is a staggeringly large universe of things.
The good news is, for the purposes of this column as well as for life in general, you don’t need a deep understanding of tariffs. Just know this: When our government imposes a tariff on imports from other countries, it costs you more money to buy whatever is being imported, or whatever is made from the stuff being imported.
So while a tariff on steel or aluminum imported from other countries might help domestic makers of steel or aluminum sell more of their products, it will increase what domestic manufacturers that use steel or aluminum pay for materials, and that cost will be passed along to you, the person who doesn’t really want to be burdened with fully understanding the nuances of tariffs.
The return of tariffs, which haven’t been popular since the 1930s, is part of the Trump administration’s “America First!” bumper sticker and hat marketing material, a glossed-up version of protectionism that, if you care to listen to economists or historians or people who understand tariffs, falls somewhere between “incredibly stupid” and “absolutely bound to fail.”
The administration invoked national security as the reason for imposing tariffs on some of our closest allies, which is odd and suggests a new and more threatening definition of the term “allies.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to the tariffs with a statement that, by Canadian standards, is absolutely vicious: “Let me be clear: These tariffs are totally unacceptable. … That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable. … Beyond that, these tariffs are an affront to the long-standing security partnership between Canada and the United States, and in particular, to the thousands of Canadians who have fought and died alongside American comrades-in-arms.”
Lawrence Herman, a former Canadian diplomat, wrote in The Globe and Mail newspaper: “The Trump administration’s announcement of punitive tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum means we’re into a full-blown economic and political war with the Americans.”
Now listen, I may not know much about tariffs or trade or steel or aluminum or economics or really anything outside of how to hum every Led Zeppelin guitar solo, but I do know this: I’ve had it with Canada.
First off, they’re criticizing our president for doing something reckless and dumb, and that’s my job, so back off, you Canadian usurpers.
Second, for far too long, Canada has been allowed to hog maple syrup and universal health care, leaving us with medical bankruptcies and subpar syrup, our only comfort coming from our vast surplus of guns.
Third, Canada is a lovely country and I want it.
So if those hockey-loving monsters are giving us a “full-blown economic and political war” just because our government officials, like most reasonable Americans, don’t understand tariffs, then we should give Canada one of our finest exports: An actual war war. The bang-bang kind.
The advantages for us, aside from all that sweet syrup and sensible health coverage, are many:
We won’t need to impose tariffs on their steel and aluminum because we will just take it all for free. That will make us look more reasonable on the world stage.
It should only take five rifles, three fighter jets and some moose repellent to conquer them. So the cost is minimal.
Their leaders will be deposed and no longer able to say mean things about our extremely nonsmart president, protecting the jobs of important American media figures like myself.
So forget tariffs. They’re old-school and counterproductive and confusing.
If we’re going to inexplicably go after our allies, let’s really go after them.
Today, Canada. Tomorrow, the world!
Rex Huppke is a Chicago Tribune columnist. Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.