Me: Hi, Eddy. Been a while. What’s going on?
Uncle Eddy: What’s going on, Charlie, is that the country is about to get screwed over by that damned steel tariff that the prez come up with. What in the hell is he thinking of?
Me: Can’t answer that, Uncle Ed. I figured he owed some steel folks a favor for all that campaign money. Or future campaign money.
Uncle Eddy: I’ll tell you what he’s trying to do, kid. He’s thinking ahead to 2020 to make sure them mill workin’ guys votes for him. He figures it sounds good to workin’ stiffs – more American jobs and all that bullcrap – along with his whoring around with the NRA. Promise ‘em jobs, promise ‘em guns – never mind he ain’t done any frappin’ thing right this term.
Me: I’ll go along with you on that. I think a 25% tariff on steel is way too much. My opinion is that it will cause prices to go up, since we use steel in everything.
Uncle Eddy: We agree on that, kid. But I’m figuring he ain’t figured that one out. It makes him sound like a big damned hero with unemployed guys. But I spent my whole life in them Mahoning Valley Mills until they closed and I can tell you it’s all bullcrap. Just cause I ain’t got no fancy degrees or nothin’, I ain’t stupid.
Me: So tell me how an old steel guy sees it.
Uncle Eddy: Well, them mills closed cause we couldn’t compete. We brung some of that down on our own selfs by getting greedy with wages, same as those auto guys did. It was nice making 25 bucks an hour, but nobody figured out we was bankruptin’ the company. So them China guys and them Japan guys they got their mills all full of robots and stuff, plus them people worked for a buck an hour, and they could sell steel one hell of a lot cheaper.
Me: They still do Ed.
Uncle Eddy: Yeh. I ain’t saying it wasn’t worth 25 bucks an hour – it was damned hard work. I’m sayin’ that with all this automated crap them China guys got they don’t need so many people. And them as they got still work way cheaper than 25 bucks for sure.
Me: Don’t you think an out-of-work guy will know that.
Uncle Eddy: I ain’t sure, Charlie. Guys get hungry, they sometimes have to believe it will get better. Ain’t nothing happened good for them guys since the prez took office, but they’re still hope it will. Look here, kid. We buys more steel from them other countries than we make. They got all the mills. And it ain’t gonna encourage anybody to build new steel mills —– you figure out what the hell a mill would cost? So the guys who buy the steel and make stuff will just crank up their prices to cover it and everybody loses. Cars gonna cost more, washers gonna cost more, every blooming thing with steel in it gonna cost more. And now them poor workin’ stiffs is not only lookin’ for work but they’ll be paying more for everything. Am I right?
Me: Once again, Uncle Eddy – you’re right.
Uncle Eddy: Damn straight. But how come an old mill hand like me, who used to clean out the coking ovens, can figure this out? And all them damned advisors and experts and crap can’t see the handwriting. It ain’t right, Charlie. Ain’t right.