Now, it’s tariffs
Usually, a pink “tax” refers to higher prices for products that target women. Now though, we are really talking taxes.
In her Opinion column, financial journalist Catherine Rampbell tells of the import taxes that disadvantage women. First focusing on underwear, she compared gender by fabric. For silk underwear, the men “pay” .9 percent and the women, 2.1 percent. Meanwhile, with cotton, the taxes ascend to 7.4 percent for the men and 7.6 percen, the women, And then, finally, with polyester underwear, we have 14.9 percent and 16 percent:
Furthermore, the higher rates for polyester and cotton point also to prejudice against the poor. Called regressive, they are taxes that receive more from those with less. For example, sales taxes are regressive because everyone pays the same amount. When the tax is $10, it’s a 10 percent slice from someone that earns $100 but just 5 percent for individuals with an income of $200.
I’ve copied some of the examples that Rampbell shared in her column:
In a recent paper, two economists suggest that these kimds of regressive tariffs have been around since 1930s and 1940s trade agreements. They cite the difference between a reptile leather $400 handbag that is taxed at a 5.3 percent tariff rate and the $8 plastic-sided handbags taxed at a whopping 16 percent rate. Asking why, one reason seems to be inertia. No one bothered to change them.
Our Bottom Line: Redistribution
During the 19th century, economic thinker John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) shared his utilitarian thinking. The utilitarians were concerned with policies that created the most well-being for the most people. One vehicle for sharing well-being is taxes. Also called redistribution, taxes hit the distribution side of our economy. We could say as did Mill that production can remain subject to the market. However, for distribution, through taxation, a society has more of an opportunity to implement its values.
John Stuart Mill:
At this point, we can ask how underwear tariffs might become more utilitarian..
My sources and more: My inspiration today came from an Axios newsletter that alerted me to pink tariffs. From there, Catherine Rampbell had more of the details in The Washington Post. Then, finally, I wound up at this academic paper,