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Only 99.9919 Percent to Go

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Pres. Obama proposes shaving 0.0081 percent off of the federal budget by merging into one agency the half-dozen agencies now charged with obstructing Americans’ freedom to trade with foreigners (“Obama Proposes Merging Agencies,” Jan. 13).

Why not abolish these agencies altogether?  Taxpayers’ savings will be even larger.  More importantly, the economic benefit of escaping these counterproductive shackles will be significant.  Consumer purchasing power will rise; competition will intensify; corporations will waste fewer resources as their prospects for successfully seeking special privileges dim; and the U.S. government will set a principled example of better practicing what it preaches.

Now some will protest that these agencies are vital to Uncle Sam’s mission of opening markets for American exporters.  Forget the ethical and economic problems with forcing taxpayers to subsidize corporations’ quests for customers.  Focus instead on the administration’s frequent and correct claims that foreign governments are forever scheming to increase their countries’ exports to America, and recognize that the inevitable result of foreigners selling more to Americans is that they will, either now or in the future, buy more from Americans.  (What else can foreigners do with the dollars they earn from selling their exports to us, and with the dollars they earn tomorrow from any dollars they invest in America today?)  We can rest assured, therefore, that with foreign governments artificially promoting American exports for us, we need not be taxed or otherwise harassed to achieve this goal.

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