Still a Relevant Point

by Don Boudreaux on September 26, 2017

in Crony Capitalism, Subsidies, Trade

Nearly 13 years ago the Washington Post published this short and, unfortunately, still-relevant letter of mine:

Robert J. Samuelson argued that the federal government should protect Boeing against a government-subsidized Airbus, even though he conceded that Boeing “has been grossly mismanaged” [op-ed, Dec. 8].

Protecting a “grossly mismanaged” firm from competition is an odd way to boost its competitive energies. Protection is more likely to drain than enhance these energies. More ominously, protection makes firms more dependent on government favors rather than consumer demand.

As William Bourke Cockran, the New York congressman who was a political mentor to Winston Churchill, remarked, “The necessary effect of free trade is, therefore, to encourage efficiency in production, while the necessary effect of protection is to encourage skill in corruption.”


(I cannot find a link to the Samuelson op-ed.  Nor can I now find the physical document that I recall having and from which I took this splendid quotation.)  UPDATE: Thanks to Mark Cancellieri for finding a link to Samuelson’s column, and to Stephen Wilkes for reminding me that the Cockran quotation is from page 193 of a 1925 collection of essays and speeches by Cochran titled In the Name of Liberty.


Add a Comment    Share Share    Print    Email

Previous post:

Next post: