Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

When businesses become the weapons politicians use for their own ends, it's hard for those businesses to stay quiet.

This has especially been the case over the last couple of years.

Why, when the government shutdown occurred, pilots at Delta and United wrote a harsh letter to President Trump asking him to consider the safety implications of his actions.

Now it's the turn of Nike, Adidas, and 171 other footwear companies.

They believe they've been unfairly included in the president's latest round of tariff hikes proposed as part of an escalating trade conflict with China.

The footwear manufacturers posted their letter publicly, so that the whole world can see how angry they are.

It asks for the industry to be excluded from any more hikes.

It describes the potential effect on the industry as "catastrophic" and addresses the president's intention to increase the tariff on shoes by another 25 percent in this way: 

There should be no misunderstanding that U.S. consumers pay for tariffs on products that are imported. As an industry that faces a $3 billion duty bill every year, we can assure you that any increase in the cost of importing shoes has a direct impact on the American footwear consumer.

Some suspect the president believes it's China that pays the tariffs.

Yet it's actually the customers of Nike, Adidas, Puma, Dirty Laundry, and the rest of these signees. The companies don't absorb the cost. They pass it on.

The footwear companies believe the additional 25 percent will add $7 billion a year to consumers' costs.

They calculate the effect would be to raise the duty on shoes to almost 100 percent, a prospect the letter describes as "unfathomable."

In the midst of all these numbers, the footwear folk attempt to tug at the president's heartstrings: 

High footwear tariff rates fall disproportionately on working class individuals and families.

This may or may not be true. It's clear that footwear does already bear a considerable tariff burden.

I feel sure, though, that those of drier countenance might mutter that the likes of Nike and Adidas target those very working-class families with $150 sneakers kids crave.

This leaves working-class families already wondering how they'll pay for them.

Of course, not all these companies manufacture the majority of their shoes in China.

For example, Skechers has a 65 percent exposure in China. For Nike, it's a mere 26 percent.

Businesses, you see, have to anticipate political--and economic--winds and react accordingly. 

It's hard, though, when the winds seem to change direction quickly and sometimes randomly.

Will a strongly-worded letter make any difference? 

Or will the mere prospect of more tariffs encourage shoe manufacturers to increasingly withdraw from China altogether and find a country with which there is no trade war?

No trade war yet, that is.

Indeed, even though these footwear companies ask to be excluded from the tariff hike, their true feelings are exposed in the very last line:

It's time to bring this trade war to an end.

Published on: May 21, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.