There is No Overstating the Stupidity of Protectionism

by Don Boudreaux on March 7, 2018

in Myths and Fallacies, Trade, War

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

In support of Pres. Trump’s punitive taxes on Americans who buy steel and aluminum, Curt Smith writes “Trade war?  We’ve been at war for decades, but only now are sending troops into battle” (Letters, March 8).

How stupid.  In a real war, foreigners literally kill us by shooting bullets and bombs our way; in a so-called “trade war,” foreigners literally enrich us by shipping goods and services our way – on terms that are especially attractive to us, and which each of us remains free to accept or to reject.

Another difference: in a real war, our government dispatches armed troops abroad to use violence to subdue and subjugate citizens of other nations – to subdue and subjugate ‘them.’  In a “trade war” our government dispatches armed customs agents domestically to use violence to subdue and subjugate citizens of our own nation – to subdue and subjugate us.

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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