Wacky Notions

by Don Boudreaux on December 29, 2016

in Balance of Payments, Immigration, Myths and Fallacies, Social Security, Standard of Living, Trade, Work

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

Catherine Rampell argues that (as the title of her essay explains) “Americans – especially but not exclusively Trump voters – believe crazy, wrong things” (Dec. 29).  Indeed we Americans do believe many crazy, wrong things.  But non-Trump voters are just as likely as are Trump voters to believe such things.

Here are some fantastical delusions suffered by voters from all across the political spectrum:

– When Uncle Sam restricts foreign producers’ abilities to compete to serve ordinary American consumers he makes ordinary Americans richer rather than poorer;

– Americans are enriched the greater are the numbers of the fruits of our sweat, toil, and resources that we export to foreigners, and the fewer are the numbers of goods and services that we receive from foreigners in exchange;

– A growing U.S. trade deficit (which represents increasing foreign investment in America) not only is evidence of U.S. economic decline, but also hastens this decline;

– Immigrants who come to America to work – and, hence, who by working increase the total output of the American economy – weaken the American economy;

– When government imposes mandates such as minimum wages and paid family leave that artificially raise firms’ costs of employing workers, firms never attempt to reduce these costs by employing fewer workers who are covered by these mandates;

– We Americans are too irresponsible to save for our own retirements (that is, too many of us, being undisciplined, spend excessively now and, hence, save too little for the future) and, therefore, we must have sizeable chunks of our incomes taxed from us and transferred to the responsible and prudent stewardship of the U.S. Congress, which would never dream of spending these funds now.

– Ordinary Americans’ material standard of living is no higher today than it was 35 or 40 years ago.

Wacky notions all.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
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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