Thanks largely to the foresight of Cordell Hull, former President Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of State, trade policy has been a vital component of broader American foreign ‘paw’licy since World War II. The operating assumption has been that commercial diplomacy can connect countries economically and thereby help facilitate harmonious relations — a classic tool for “soft power.”

Today, however, the United States is challenging that assumption as the Trump administration has spent 2018 levying dubious “national security” tariffs on steel and aluminum products from our closest allies like Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. But what if we told readers that not only are the tariffs fostering distrust among our allies, but they’re also making the world less safe for us mutts?

While we know that virtually all tariffs are bad (there’s even a popular t-shirt succinctly explaining it), tariffs on intermediate inputs or products imported into the United States that are used to make other products are the worst of the worst. This is because these kinds of tariffs raise costs for domestic manufacturers, who, in turn, pass them off onto consumers. This makes our manufacturers less competitive in a highly competitive 21st century global marketplace.

In fact, according to U.S. Census Bureau data cited in a 2018 paper from one of our owners, Clark Packard, about 140,000 Americans were employed in steel mills in 2015. By contrast, nearly 6.5 million Americans were employed in industries that use steel as an input. In other words, today’s tariffs jeopardize far more jobs than they could possibly save.

Aside from that bleak reality, tariffs just trigger retaliation against American exports by our trading partners, ensnaring unrelated industries in a tit-for-tat. Wisconsin, in particular, understands this.

After we slapped tariffs on European steel and aluminum, the European Union responded by increasing tariffs on American motorcycles — raising them from 6 percent to 31 percent. Harley-Davidson, a classic Wisconsin-based company employing many owners of good doggos like us, estimated that this will increase the cost of a standard hog by about $2,200. As a result, Harley has announced that it will shift production overseas to avoid the tariffs. This predictably drew the enmity of President Trump, notably the first president since former President William McKinley not to have a dog at the White House. That’s approximately 117 years (or 819 dog years).

Given that former first dog Bo Obama leveraged his position into a lucrative lobbying job on K Street, Trump’s anti-dog policy is harming the broader D.C. canine economy.

But worse, the effects of these tariffs are being felt even by your average pup. According to Amanda Quintana, a dog mom and reporter with WISCTV in Madison, Wis., the Clerk of Dane County has said the steel and aluminum tariffs are causing the price of dog tags to increase. As a result, the cost of registering dogs in the county will increase. Higher costs mean that fewer dogs will be registered, and this means that when one of us happens to wander off after chasing a squirrel, friendly humans who find us may have trouble reuniting us with our owners.

We doubt Dane County is unique. Other counties or municipalities likely also face higher costs for dog registration. This makes pooches all around the country less safe.

Not only is the president threatening our ability to earn a living and our safety, he’s jeopardizing one of our favorite pastimes, too—fetching newspapers for our masters. You see, earlier this year, the administration levied anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Canadian wood that’s used to print newspapers. While it’s true that newsprint has been declining as more and more news is delivered on the Internet, the administration’s decision will only make the problem worse for those of us who use fetching the paper as their primary form of exercise.

For all these reasons, the canine community is understandably upset and vows to mobilize in opposition to the tariffs. But, as man’s best friend, we’re reasonable and forgiving. If Trump wants to earn our trust, all he has to do is drop the tariffs that disproportionately harm canines and work toward restoring the bipartisan trade consensus.

Otherwise, it looks like times may get a whole lot ‘ruff’er for us all.

 

Image credit: Tom Harper Photography