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In the Spirit of Bastiat

My brilliant young colleague Bryan Caplan, in this post over at EconLog, offers intuitively compelling alternatives for several economic arguments that are too often presented counterintuitively — and in doing so, Bryan very nicely summarizes the point I sought to make in this post.

Here’s Bryan:

Counterintuitive claim: Free trade makes countries richer, even if the other countries have big advantages like cheaper labor or more advanced technology.

Intuitive version:  We’d be better off if other countries gave us stuff for free.  Isn’t “really cheap” the next-best thing?