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Protectionist Inconsistency

Here’s another letter appearing in today’s Washington Post; it’s by William Hawkins (on whose protectionist misuderstandings I’ve commented earlier — see here, here, and here).

I sent the following letter just now to the Post:

William Hawkins is confused.  Today he argues that NAFTA is a failure because Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. still import a great deal from outside of North America (Letters, August 16).  To combat this alleged scourge, he says that “NAFTA reform needs to pull the three countries together against outside rivals.”

But Mr. Hawkins also objects to construction of a “NAFTA highway dedicated to moving shipments from Mexico to the interior of the United States and Canada.”  He worries that such a highway would be “a threat to our national security, and it would accelerate the give-away of American jobs and erosion of U.S. sovereignty.”

It’s difficult to imagine what sort of “pulling together” of Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. Mr. Hawkins has in mind if he opposes infrastructure projects that reduce transportation costs within North America and, hence, promote the creation of a larger, more integrated, and more prosperous North American economy.

Donald J. Boudreaux

All protectionists stand on flimsy intellectual grounds.  But some of them, such Hawkins, seem especially adept at finding only the flimsiest of grounds upon which to stand as they screech madly against commerce (which they do not understand) and freedom (which they fear).