Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Mary Wolbach Lopert

Editorial: Tariffs and unintended consequences


…In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Benjamin Franklin – 1789

There is one thing I’ve learned in life – everything has a consequence. But it’s the unintended consequences that often catch us by surprise.

Tariffs have been in the news lately. Simply put, (thank you Google) a tariff is “a tax or duty to be paid on a particular class of imports or exports.”

Tariffs are said to protect jobs and goods. If a tariff is placed on materials coming into the country, those materials, either finished or unfinished, will be more expensive. Tariffs are said to “level the playing field” against cheap imported goods and unfair trade practices. American jobs are saved from competition such as cheap TVs, dishwashers, refrigerators, steel and newsprint. 

It’s here that the unintended consequence kicks in. In August 2017 Norpac, a newsprint mill in the Pacific Northwest, asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to place a tariff on imported newsprint from Canada. After some investigation, Commerce found sufficient evidence to impose a temporary tariff on newsprint from Canada, which is still in effect.

According to various news sources, while the tariffs have been a boon to Norpac, which has re-hired 50 employees who previously were laid off, those same tariffs have hurt most newspapers in the U.S. In an April 21 CNN interview, Tampa Bay Times publisher Paul Tash said that the cost per ton for newsprint had increased from $600 to $800 as a direct result of the tariff. This increase translates to an additional $3 million cost for his newspaper. The unintended consequence of that increase is the paper had to lay off 50 employees.

The financial issues facing the Tampa Bay Times are being played out all over the country. The Courier is facing the same situation.

Chris Klein of Prairie Mountain Media, which prints the Courier, said since they use Canadian paper, as their costs go up, the company will have to pass those additional costs on. The Courier will have to do the same in the form of increased advertising rates, which are the sole financial support of the paper.

The Courier is looking at ways to further cut costs. At the moment, the only way we can continue to print is to raise ad rates. No one wants to do this, but it’s the unintended consequence of national and international issues over which we have no control. 

There is no way to cover our costs without an increase. We believe that the Courier provides a valuable community service. We work hard to highlight people, schools, events and businesses that Gunbarrel, Niwot and Longmont have to offer.

We hope that our advertisers and the community will continue to support us in our effort to keep readers informed about the value of our community. We are dealing with those unintended consequences as best we can.

Mary Wolbach Lopert

Senior Editor/Partner


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