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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 300 of Vol. 19 (Ideas, Persons, and Events [2001]) of The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan; specifically, it’s from Jim’s 1996 essay “Adam Smith as Inspiration”:

To appreciate the continuing strength of the mercantilist fallacies, we need only read our newspapers in 1996 to observe that our politicians act as if they are more interested in the well-being of members of other nations than of our own.  More concretely, trade policy seems driven by an almost exclusive concern with our specialized roles as employees-producers rather than our generalized roles as consumers.  Why else should we be so single-minded in demanding that Japan, in particular, open its market?

Were Jim still alive and to write this essay in 2016 (rather than in 1996), the only changes to the above passage would be “1996” changed to “2016” and “Japan” changed to “China.”  Sadly, it’s likely that were this passage to be written in 2036, similar nominal changes would be all that are necessary to make it germane.  (China by then will likely be surpassed by a sub-Saharan African country as the country that American mercantilists charge is filled with long-suffering but now-starting-to-prosper peasants who are “unfairly” competing against us poor, helpless Americans – we who are besieged by crafty foreign devils bent on impoverishing America by sending us boatloads of goods for which they charge us too little.)


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