Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on October 31, 2016

in Myths and Fallacies, Politics, Trade

… is from page 55 of the 2012 revised and updated edition of Steven Landsburg’s classic 1995 book, The Armchair Economist (original emphasis):

51zlgtmfj8l-_sx324_bo1204203200_ [T]rade is beneficial not because you get to export but because you get to import.  The export business is the downside of international trade.  You don’t enjoy doing the other class’s laundry but you do enjoy eating their brownies.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle have a tendency to miss this point.  When the Bush administration relaxed import restrictions on Japanese pickup trucks, former president Bill Clinton griped that the United States had gotten absolutely nothing in return.  President Bush responded that his action had helped open Japanese markets to American goods.  Apparently both failed to notice that what Americans gain when they buy Japanese pickup trucks is: Japanese pickup trucks.  Selling is a painful necessity; buying is what makes it all worthwhile.

So much for the Clintons’ alleged economic smarts and groundedness in reality (Hillary spews similar nonsense), and for even non-Trumpian Republicans’ alleged understanding of markets.  (“Oh,” you protest knowingly.  “Clinton and other politicians actually do correctly understand the economics of the matter.  They just say things such as the above because doing so is necessary for them to get and to keep political office.”  To which I reply: “Maybe; maybe not.  But if it’s true that the Clintons and other politicians really do know better than what their ignorant words convey, then this fact is sufficient proof that such people are untrustworthy, deceptive, duplicitous, soulless liars.  Either way, they are not to be trusted with power over other people.”)

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