Forty-six years ago, Drew and I had our first date. He was graduating law school and had decided to buy himself a present – a motorcycle. He asked me to join him in the selection. Honestly, who could say no to that kind of first date invitation?
We were young. We were hopeful, venturing upon a path that would lead us through these almost 44 years of marriage.
We still have that beautiful blue bike. It has moved with us every time we relocated. And while we have not sat on its seat for decades, it still shines in our garage, representing the freedom we felt to dream lo those many years ago.
President Donald Trump has launch the first salvo in his trade wars resulting in retaliatory actions taken by our trading partners of the past.
The first collateral damage victim is the motorcycle manufacturer, Harley Davidson. It was announced this week that they will move production of their motorcycles, those sold to European Union customers, from the U.S. to Europe.
Moving the production operation to Europe will cost hundreds of jobs here in the U.S., but without the move, the new European taxes on imported motorcycles would have a “significant impact” on Harley’s business. Estimates indicate that new tariffs would increase the cost of motorcycles shipped to the continent by $2,200 on average.
While our “bike” is not a Harley; I do have sympathy for the company caught in the middle of this political combat. That increase in price alone is way more than the total of what was paid for “Drew’s baby” in our garage!
The trade wars that President Trump has initiated aren’t just impacting our manufacturing or our trading relationship with Europe. China is retaliating as well. According to the Washington Post: “The latest tariffs announced by China on June 15 would tax goods that accounted for about $45 billion in U.S. exports last year. It’s a tiny speck of the nation’s thriving overall economy. But those tariffs are no broadside threat. They’re targeted with laser-like precision at farmers, ranchers and certain manufacturing workers, as well as at the local economies of rural and small-town America.”
I don’t know if our president’s “hit them in the face first … then start negotiating” style will prove effective in the long run, but I fear many farmers, manufacturers and, of course, we consumers will end up with the proverbial bloodied noses testing it out.
This is my 500th column appearing in Northwest Indiana newspapers. Looking back on that young woman going to help select a motorcycle with her future husband; I still remember the dreams I had back then. But, never could I have imagined that hundreds of people would allow me to take a few moments of their time every week to share ideas, observations or opinions on important topics of the day.
I want to thank you all for that privilege.