Double Standard

by Don Boudreaux on July 3, 2014

in Crony Capitalism, Other People's Money, Politics, Seen and Unseen, Subsidies

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

Robert Samuelson generally opposes the Export-Import Bank.  But he refuses to join the ranks of today’s Ex-Im opponents, in part because he believes that these opponents engage in “political theater” by “exaggerating Ex-Im’s importance” (“The misleading debate on the Export-Import Bank,” July 1).

Please.

Does Mr. Samuelson think that Ex-Im’s proponents are not political thespians?  Nearly every serious economist knows that subsidizing exports (that is, paying foreigners to consume our products) makes us poorer.  Yet the fictional and fanciful depiction – on Pennsylvania Avenue’s gaudiest stages – of government-engineered increases in exports as fonts of prosperity has drawn the adoring applause of generations of gullible audiences.

And does Mr. Samuelson suppose that Ex-Im’s proponents never exaggerate Ex-Im’s importance?  In fact, Boeing and other beneficiaries of Ex-Im largess lobby incessantly in support of Ex-Im with grandiose warnings that shuttering Ex-Im would significantly damage America’s economy.

If Mr. Samuelson truly is put off by outlandish political theater and ridiculous exaggeration, he ought to be absolutely disgusted, not by Ex-Im’s opponents, but instead by the never-ending absurd theatrics of Ex-Im’s proponents.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

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