Bonus Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on February 17, 2018

in Trade

… is from page 86 of my great teacher Leland Yeager’s remarkable 1954 monograph, Free Trade: America’s Opportunity (original emphasis):

Free Traders should speak out bluntly.  They should argue not for lower tariffs, not for reciprocal trade agreements, not for freer trade, but for Free Trade — the complete end to government interference with imports and exports.

DBx: Note that Leland’s counsel is not that that free-trade advocates should be unwilling to accept imperfect political compromises – such as those in reciprocal trade agreements – that make trade freer if not as free as it ought ideally be.  Leland’s counsel here is that in making the intellectual and moral case for free trade there is no reason to trim; there is no reason – no economic reason and no ethical reason – to grant any intellectual or ethical ground to protectionists.  The ideal that we should always strive for, without apology, is complete free trade, adopted unilaterally by each country – but if not adopted by all or even by any other country, adopted at least by our country.

There is simply no good reason in economics or in ethics to give intellectual credence to state interference with individuals’ peaceful commerce with others merely because the others are citizens or denizens of a different political jurisdiction.  Indeed, there is every good reason to oppose – vigorously and without apology – the officiousness, pretense, ignorance, and cronyism of those who wish to restrict trade.


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