Should We Be Taxing Ironing Boards?

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The iron-board tax: who knew it was even up for discussion? Matt Yglesias, for one. The Washington Post ran a piece Tuesday on the last American factory making ironing boards, and how it survives only due to a heavy tax on Chinese imported boards. The liberal blogger points out that, despite the benefits of the tax, it's still, ultimately, a tax, and "it results in more expensive ironing boards."

More specifically, he thinks, as do many opposed to such taxes, that protecting "the $15/hour jobs of 200 factory workers along with the profits of Chicago-based Home Products International ... is a bad reason to impose extra costs on those of us who iron things from time to time." If you ditch the tax, you wind up creating those jobs elsewhere, as consumers "spend less money on ironing boards and will either spend more money on other things."

So why does the tax persist? With such high unemployment, he explains, "it's really hard for anyone to say with a straight face that if the factory closes down the employees will be able to find new jobs." As a result, " the longer elevated unemployment persists, the more random trade barriers we're going to see."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.