I’m naturally against tariffs as they impede on free trade, and end up hurting the consumer by inadvertently becoming a tax on imports as well as raising the cost of goods. So I'm trying to challenge my natural assumptions as best I can.
I know the Hayekian school of thought is that the cheaper and more widely available products/materials are the better for the consumer, but I wanted to pose the question that if cheaper doesn't necessarily equal quality why is cheaper always being preferred ? For instance with Steel, I've read numerous publications citing American Steel & Aluminum to be of far greater strength and quality than overseas Steel. Does it all boil down to the freedom to choose as Milton Friedman says ? What is the cost / benefit analysis on something like a Tariff on Steel & Aluminum if its a far better product which might require us to buy less of it over-time ?
I remember growing up my father would say that he didn’t care that he could buy a microwave for 30$, and that he would gladly pay triple or quadruple for a superior product that would last a lifetime. Do we rely too heavily on affordability ?
Sub-Question : I’ve noticed prominent speakers like Victor Davis Hanson say that these Tariffs are so minuscule no one will notice them. Apparently 70% of steel used in the United States is American Steel and China is actually 11th on the list of steel & aluminum providers. Is there too much hyperbole that a steel & aluminum tariff will cause a trade war ?