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Another Open Letter to Peter Thiel

Mr. Peter Thiel

Mr. Thiel:

While defending protectionism à la Donald Trump you commit several factual errors.  The most comical such error is your charge that free trade is elitist.

Is it elitist to let individuals spend their money as they choose?  Is it elitist to oppose punitive taxation of ordinary people who stretch their budgets by buying lower-priced imports?  Is it elitist to stand against corporations seeking special privileges?  Is it elitist to object to shielding domestic producers from the competition that obliges them to serve consumers as well as possible and as consumers demand?  Is it elitist to resist the creation of legions of government officials wielding the power to supervise and to override the voluntary, peaceful economic decisions of private citizens?  Is it elitist to support a policy – free trade – that, were it followed consistently, would rid Washington of hordes of lobbyists and other rent-seekers by making their ‘services’ futile?  And was it elitist of the framers of the U.S. Constitution to strip each state government of the power to deny its citizens the freedom to trade with citizens of other states?

In short, is it elitist to condemn government policies that artificially swell the profits and wages of politically powerful domestic producers – policies that, by the way, also artificially shrink the earnings of politically weak domestic producers – by obstructing the peaceful commerce of the people?

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030