President Donald Trump hosted members of “Bikers for Trump” the past week, and then later took to Twitter to claim that there are a lot of customers planning on boycotting Harley-Davidson if their plans to move production overseas materialize.
Despite saying this piece of news was “great,” the reality is that the calls for boycott come after the president forced the company’s hand.
After the president imposed hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada, and Mexico, the EU retaliated, imposing tariffs on €2.8 billion ($3.2 billion) products. Harley motorcycles included.
The American company claims that in the United States, they have seen the demand for their bikes wane over time, but in Europe, the interest grew.
According to the manufacturer, they could lose up to $100 million a year if they remained in the United States, so moving the production abroad could help them save money, and what’s better, not transfer the added cost of doing business on consumers.
Despite Harley-Davidson’s troubles, Trump accused the company of using his tariffs as an “excuse,” saying the company had already planned on moving some operations to Thailand prior to his tariff announcement. Harley hit back, saying that some production was meant to move abroad, but that a major move was the “only sustainable option.” To the classic motorcycle company, survival means moving away, and not because they want to, but because the president intervened in the economy.
Tariffs Are Taxes On The Poor
Consumers suffer the impact of tariffs, whether the president claims the policy will help the American economy or not.
As Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises once explained, tariffs aid certain citizens at the expense of others, as the added cost is paid by the consumer. Therefore, using the nationalist claims Trump uses to sell his tariffs are ludicrous, as it doesn’t benefit all Americans as a whole, quite the contrary.
When he imposed tariffs on products from China, for instance, Trump immediately exposed the poor and middle-class Americans who may have voted for him to higher prices on consumer goods.
China produces cheap products, but the tariffs will change that picture. And consumers who can’t afford the price increase will no longer consume.
While the president can cheer the calls for a boycott against Harley-Davidson as much as he wants, there’s no greater boycotter of the American consumer than the government that imposes tariffs. And unfortunately, the United States government has a long history of hurting its consumers with these pesky taxes, long before Trump. He’s just more of the same.