Saturday, October 23, 2004
On this day:

Protecting the Goods: Bush Restricts Trade in Underwear

Sock manufacturers in Fort Payne (the "Sock Capital of the World") are happy with a Bush administration decision to impose quotas on imports of socks from China. The sock quotas come on the heels of restrictions on Chinese nightgowns and brassieres put in place earlier this year. If U.S. manufacturers have their way, the import restrictions will soon cover a full package of clothing, including cotton and synthetic trousers, wool trousers, cotton and synthetic knit shirts and underwear. (In related news, Hooters will open its first restaurant in China next week.)

If all of these trade barriers are enacted, the result will inevitably be an increase in clothing prices, giving new meaning to the phrase "a rise in your Levi's." Restrictions on imports of consumer goods may sound like a good idea, but they place burdens on economic growth and invite retaliation from the nations they target. They increase prices for consumers in a futile attempt to protect uncompetitive businesses and industries. The administration has adopted them for what seem to be purely political reasons, at the expense of consumers who will foot the bill.