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Brace yourself, a trade war is coming

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Oh the irony.

As I look down the list of the biggest categories that will be impacted by the new trade war the United States initiated for some reason, it is heavily populated by rural and blue collar industries.

The exact same demographics that voted for this administration in the first place.

From my vantage point, at the root of said trade war is the perception that things are not fair for America. We do more than our part and that it’s time for everyone else to step up and do theirs.

I understand that one could actually argue that point and can make a compelling argument. The United States has carried the water in international politics for a long time. But in the end, the world is not designed to be fair.

So as we gear up to take on a country that has more than four times the population of the US, maybe it would be wise to think about that for a moment. There are almost 1.4 billion people in China. Many of them have spent generations in rural areas living a brutal life of subsistence farming. So moving to the city to become a low-paid factory worker is actually a step up in some ways.

Let’s look no further than recycling to consider how this trade war could go.

Americans don’t want to sift through all the garbage we produce. Sure, we’ll toss stuff into the blue bin instead of the green bin. But we’re not willing to dive into a mountain of garbage and work 50 hours a week in there.

That’s why we have been shipping our recyclables to China. I know most of us have not spent much time thinking about the actual people involved in recycling that plastic bottle, but they are poor Chinese workers. Fire up your Google machine and do an image search for “China plastic sorting.” Much of it is done by hand. A Chinese person will wade into a mountain of plastic bottles day after day and remove the cap off a bottle and sort it by color. Why? Because that’s a better life than they had before.

Then the day came when China decided it didn’t want to take materials from the USA any more. America has been completely caught flat footed by this. There seems to be no backup plan whatsoever. We have done nothing in response except put many thousands and thousands of metric tons of recyclables into landfills. China was able to crush that industry that is very important to Americans with the stroke of a pen. They literally just turned it off and we have done nothing in response.

The list of industries that we are dependent on China for is long. Brace yourself, a trade war is coming, and we are vastly outnumbered.

Sometimes it’s better to just look the other way when you think things aren’t fair.

Now is one of those times.

You can hear “What are we talking about here?” everyday at 4:45 p.m. on 97.3 FM.

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