Protecting part of our culture: Shrimp industry needs tariffs

By The Anniston Star Editorial Board The Founding Fathers were committed to establishing domestic industries to compete with foreign interests that might undersell us. They provided the federal government the authority to place tariffs on goods coming into the country. These taxes have always been popular with domestic producers but have been less so with those seeking lower-priced goods. Ask yourself: How many consumers pass over items made in Singapore or Pakistan and pay a little more to “buy American.” In this era of recession, not many. Yet, there are times when protecting a domestic industry is more than a matter of economics. There are times when tariffs protect a culture. That brings us to America’s shrimping industry. In no way can we equate shrimp with necessities like clothes. A consumer can decide to forgo expensive seafood, but he can’t do without shoes. So, one might argue, why doesn’t the government let shrimp imported from India, Thailand, Brazil, Vietnam and China flood the market? Why not, in the name of cheaper shrimp for Americans, let those who fish from American ports go under if they can’t compete? Here is why — and why we support the recent action by the U.S. International Trade Commission to extend the current tariff on foreign shrimp until 2016. The commission found that shrimping countries were dumping cheap shrimp on the market to drive American shrimpers out of business and have U.S. consumers all to themselves. That alone should have been reason enough to extend the tariff and level the playing field. But there is another factor that too often is not considered when deciding whether to protect domestic industries — culture. Shrimping is a way of life for many on the American coast, and especially along the Gulf Coast — and not just the shrimpers. From the “blessing of the fleet” each year to the seafood festivals that celebrate the bounty of our waters, people who never have set foot on a shrimp boat — and never will — take part in that way of life, that culture. We would be a poorer nation if we allowed this to disappear. Too often we have sacrificed culture in the name of commerce. Just look at the shuttered mills and depopulated mill towns around northeast Alabama to see clear examples of how we have lost more than jobs. We have lost ways of life. Extending the tariff on foreign shrimp is about more than the cost of seafood. It is about preserving a part of American culture. That is worth much more than cheap shrimp. Read the original post here