However, other industries were not about to let agriculture benefit alone. Scores of industry representatives testified in Congressional hearings that they too needed protection from foreign competition. When these hearings finally ended, there were 20,000 pages of testimony. Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley tariff on June 17, 1930, raising the price of imports by an average of 59% for over 25,000 different goods. Predictably, other governments enacted their own trade barriers in retaliation. As the world retreated into protectionism and isolation, wealth rotted. Next to the bank runs, the Smoot-Hawley tariff was the largest factor leading to the Great Depression and all the misery it caused.
Today we have our own financial problems. How are we responding? The Wall Street Journal recently reports, "The U.S. steel industry has now joined autos and ethanol in the conga line to Capitol Hill. Sort of. Steelmakers aren't seeking government bailout money -- a la Detroit and Wall Street -- but they are pressuring President-elect Obama and the new Congress to stack any stimulus proposal in favor of domestic producers, even though that would inevitably come at the expense of the nation's overall economic health."
Friends: this is why we teach economics; this is why our job is important!