October 27, 2023 Reading Time: 2 minutes

In this episode of Liberty Curious, we go deep into the historical roots of ‘Making America Great Again’. Kate Wand sat down with Phillip W. Magness, Senior Research Faculty and F.A. Hayek Chair in Economics and Economic History at AIER, to discuss the true implications of tariffs and protectionism and how they have shaped America’s economic landscape.

From the earliest years of the American founding, promises of putting America first echoed through political chambers. These calls, though wrapped in patriotism, often harbored hidden implications of cronyism, favoritism, and a veiled tax that burdened everyday consumers. Despite the appealing rhetoric, tariffs and protectionist measures stand as barriers to economic freedom, prosperity, and genuine international cooperation.

As history warns, “When goods cease to cross borders, armies soon follow.” By tracing the history of tariffs, we see a repeating pattern: opportunistic rent-seeking, strained international relations, and a government that often interferes with natural economic exchanges. This meddling not only fosters less peace but also empowers the federal government at the expense of states and the very people it promises to protect.

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Phillip W. Magness at AIER.org
Phil Magness on X

Use these time stamps to navigate the content of the interview:

0:00 – Intro
1:03 – MAGA & Tariffs
3:46 – I, IPhone
6:00 – American Founding debates
8:09 – Trade Liberalization
10:20 – James Madison
14:14 – Special Interests
16:15 – Early Cronyism
19:00 – Alexander Hamilton
22:25 – Infant Industry
26:16 – Less choices, higher prices
29:13 – The eve of the Civil War
34:15 – Rent-seeking
38:07 – Tariff renaissance
40:05 – American System
50:13 – Income Tax
54:50 – The Rise of Government Expansion
58:02 – The Ring of Power

Phillip W. Magness

Phil Magness

Phillip W. Magness works at the Independent Institute. He was formerly the Senior Research Faculty and F.A. Hayek Chair in Economics and Economic History at the American Institute for Economic Research. He holds a PhD and MPP from George Mason University’s School of Public Policy, and a BA from the University of St. Thomas (Houston). Prior to joining AIER, Dr. Magness spent over a decade teaching public policy, economics, and international trade at institutions including American University, George Mason University, and Berry College. Magness’s work encompasses the economic history of the United States and Atlantic world, with specializations in the economic dimensions of slavery and racial discrimination, the history of taxation, and measurements of economic inequality over time. He also maintains an active research interest in higher education policy and the history of economic thought. His work has appeared in scholarly outlets including the Journal of Political Economy, the Economic Journal, Economic Inquiry, and the Journal of Business Ethics. In addition to his scholarship, Magness’s popular writings have appeared in numerous venues including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Newsweek, Politico, Reason, National Review, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Kate Wand

Kate Wand is a content creator. Her focus is social commentary and filmmaking. She is the host of AIER’s Liberty Curious podcast.

You can follow her on Twitter @katewand.

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