The following letters are in response to an opinion column about the recent 35% U.S. import tariff on Chinese tires.

Buy American

As a manufacturing company owner and engineer for over 30 years, I feel we should impose tariffs — especially on products that used to be made in the U.S. Chinese-made products generate no tax revenue (besides sales tax) and are the ruin of our economy. We should tariff these products to regain those taxes and discourage American companies from bailing ship.

News reports continue to emphasize that lack of consumer spending is holding back the economic recovery. This is not true. Almost every dollar spent goes to some other country's workers and economy. If saving America means buying American products, then that is what we should do.
Brian Lundy
Murray, Utah

Follow the money

It hurts American jobs to impose tariffs. It also hurts American jobs if you don't impose tariffs for the simple reason that free trade does not mean fair trade. Until all countries play by the same rules — or at least similar rules — in terms of wages and environmental standards, there is no decision that can save American jobs. All you need to do is follow the money trail on Wall Street: Big business has no incentive to keep jobs here, but $billions$ of reasons to move jobs offshore. It's only a matter of time before the American way of life is lost forever, except for those who are able to successfully trade (gamble) on the stock market. Is that really the American way? It is now.
Dale Trester
Milwaukee, Wis.

Standard of living in jeopardy

I, for one, don't support protectionism. However, the American middle class has seen many jobs disappear because of low-cost labor and tax breaks in underdeveloped countries. The theory is that America should have a highly skilled labor force and marketplace to sustain the middle class. However, jobs requiring a skilled labor force are being outsourced as well. Will American workers be required to reduce their standard of living to that of developing and Third World countries to be competitive?
Ronnie Ellis
Atlanta, Ga.

Katy, bar the door

Many believe that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 and other government actions (such as increased income taxes by the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations) directly caused, and extended the duration of, the Great Depression. In my opinion, the key contributor to the Depression was the U.S. Government, and not the free market. Well, history is repeating itself. This time, however, the minions in our government, and their fellow travelers across the world, seem to desire the destruction of the U.S. economy. This time the “free market,” which has been on the decline since the Wilson Administration, is now almost entirely gone. Free trade in a free market can work to the benefit of workers. We have neither. All is political. “Katy, bar the door!”
Jack Smith
Forest City, Iowa

Survival of the fittest

Protectionism should be employed only to guarantee that work is not lost as a result of unfair trade practices — but only to the extent that unfair practices actually benefit competitors. If the competition is making inroads because of advantages in labor cost, material cost, or lower costs of transportation and distribution inherent in their culture or geographic location, no intervention should take place (think capitalism, and survival of the fittest).

If, on the other hand, the advantage is the result of grants, tax subsidies, or other outside help, it is appropriate to level the playing field. In other words, if the competitive advantage is of a lasting kind, protective measures are not appropriate. If the advantage comes in the form of temporary assistance from an outside influence, action should be taken to offset that advantage.
Mike Nelson
Rochester, N.H.

The following letter is in response to an article celebrating the winners of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Scientists are true celebrities

Excellent article about the CCDs. It just goes to show that the press is too ignorant to appreciate any technology. They swoon over Barack Obama and his undeserved peace prize because he is a celebrity to them.

This is a major reason that students stay away from engineering in this country. You don't get any recognition or financial rewards unless you are an investment banker or a celebrity.
Tom, via email