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Open Letter to Michele Bachmann

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

Dear Rep. Bachmann:

Politico reports your support for Uncle Sam taking action against Beijing’s policy of allegedly keeping the value of the Chinese renminbi too low (“Bachmann hits China on ‘lasers’,” Sept. 30).

Now that you’ve aligned yourself with America’s screechy protectionists, who insist that it’s harmful for Americans to have too much access to low-priced imports, I’ve a question for you.  Would you applaud if Beijing erects a partial blockade against America – a blockade in which Chinese naval and air forces forcibly reduce America’s imports to levels that you and, say, Sen. Chuck Schumer determine are ‘appropriate’?

If not, why not?

The result of such action by Beijing would be identical to the result of the action that you insist Beijing take: in both cases Americans’ cost of buying Chinese-made goods would rise and, hence, Americans would import fewer goods from China.  If deploying government force to raise Americans’ cost of importing makes Americans more prosperous, surely you’d as vigorously support Beijing enforcing such a blockade as you now support Uncle Sam enforcing higher tariffs on imports from China.

Same means (government force used to obstruct voluntary purchases); same result (fewer American imports, and – at least in your reckoning – greater American prosperity).

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030