Economists, politicians, and others had predicted that trade liberalization, in the nineties and aughts, would help American workers whose wares would theoretically be exported to China’s growing consumer class. Like most Americans, the people of Bassett might never fully understand the intricacies of why things didn’t work out that way. There was China’s movement to artificially lower its currency to give its exports an advantage over competitors, the underpriced “dumping” of Chinese goods, and Chinese government subsidies—all of which allowed Asian-owned companies to sell products at a lower price than their American rivals and expanded the U.S. trade deficit with China.
Those damn Chinese, selling us furniture for too cheap! There are some interesting cases where protectionism might make sense. This isn’t one of them."