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Free Trade, Unilaterally

Robert Samuelson’s column in today’s edition of the Washington Post features several classic, unalloyed mercantilist errors.  Try to spot them all.

I point to one error in this letter that I sent in response:

Robert Samuelson suggests
that free trade benefits Americans only when foreign governments
practice free trade ("China’s Trade Time Bomb," May 9).  Not so.  The
case for free trade rests on the recognition that prosperity is
enhanced by permitting consumers to spend their money as they choose.
When foreign firms are subsidized, those subsidies (while they hurt
foreign taxpayers and foreign economies) benefit American consumers and
the American economy just as surely as when the attractive prices and
qualities of foreign products result from foreign-producers’
comparative advantage.

Donald J. Boudreaux