Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on July 28, 2013

in Balance of Payments, Trade

… is from page 123 of the 1991 Robert Schalkenbach Foundation edition of Henry George‘s 1886 volume, Protection or Free Trade:

There is no one who in exchanging his own productions for the productions of another would think that the more he gave and the less he got the better off he would be.  Yet to many men nothing seems clearer than that the more of its own productions a nation sends away, and the less of the productions of other nations it receives in return, the more profitable its trade.  So wide-spread is this belief that to-day nearly all civilized nations endeavor to discourage the bringing in of the productions of other nations while regarding with satisfaction the sending away of their own.

No economic doctrine is more absurd than mercantilism.  Mercantilism was absurd when Adam Smith exposed its illogic and cronyism in 1776; it was absurd when Henry George criticized it in 1886; it is absurd today.  But, alas, mercantilism is today no less than in the past believed by the economically ignorant and loudly trumpeted by those (i.e., politicians) who make a living by preying upon such ignorance.

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