While our president was finagling his way to support two out of three of the Big Three automakers, folk in Vladivostak were protesting Vladimir Putin’s new high tariffs on foreign-made used automobiles. As many as 6,000 protesters on Russia’s Pacific Coast took to the streets, some even calling for Putin’s ouster.
Used cars are a big deal on the eastern end of the Russian empire. Over 200,000 people in and around Vladivostok work on — or professionally trade — used cars. The used car business heavily undergirds the economy of the area . . . just across the East Sea from Japan. (I add this topographical note in case you forgot your grade school geography lessons.)
Not only did Putin insist on keeping the high tariffs, he sent in extra police to beat heads. The police attacked not only protesters, but journalists, too — without regard for nationality.
On the Sunday before Christmas, smaller protests were held around the vastness of Russia, including Moscow.
Don’t dismiss the tariff as “mere” economic policy — Putin sure doesn’t. One protester went on record, saying, “First, we have been deprived of our right to elect, now they are taking away our right to choose cars.”
An important lesson for America, too. Government policy skews our ability to choose. Favors to local business (whether by subsidy or tariff) decrease our ability to contract to get what we want. Which, often, includes imports.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.