What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry employed in a way in which we have some advantage.
Larry Kudlow very effectively and very appropriately strikes this same theme in this op-ed appearing in today’s Washington Times. Kudlow is angry (as he should be) that politicos in D.C. — either out of ignorance or, more likely, because they themselves freely trade favors with K Street lobbyists — are working now to prevent Americans and Chinese from trading freely with each other.
Kudlow opens his op-ed with an appropriate question: "If a store is selling quality products at low prices, why would anyone want to shut it down?"
I invite Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Lindsey Graham, or any other protectionist to offer a compelling justification for protectionism — a justification that’s consistent with what almost every economist this side of the AFL-CIO has long known — one that deals with centuries of hard evidence showing that trade promotes prosperity and protectionism promotes poverty — one that goes beyond scaring people with ominous-sounding but virtually meaningless terms such as "bilateral trade deficit" — one that recognizes that the ultimate purpose and challenge of economic activity is not to ‘create jobs’ but to raise individuals’ standards of living — one that recognizes that trade is a positive-sum activity — and one that honestly admits a ready willingness, if not an eagerness, to inflict violence on consumers who insist on spending their money as they see fit.