Economic Advisor to Donald Trump
Reading your recent column, I was relieved to learn that you still believe that trade is “unambiguously good for the country” (“Welcome to the Party of Trump ,” Nov. 30). But my relief turned to confusion when I read that you condition your support for freer trade on it not being “shoved down our throats by the elites.”
What do you mean? By its very nature free trade is the absence of any shoving. Free trade is what occurs naturally and spontaneously without state interference. Free trade is simply a condition under which each individual is free to spend his or her money as he or she deems best. Free trade is the guarantee to everyone that his or her voluntary, commercial choices will be obstructed by no official or by no group, be they blue-blooded elites or slack-jawed brutes.
The shoving about which you complain occurs only under protectionism. Indeed, protectionism’s essence is shoving: government agents officiously shoving fellow citizens away from those with whom these citizens wish to peacefully trade; politicians arrogantly shoving their diktats into the faces of ordinary men and women whose only offense is that they seek to stretch their incomes by purchasing goods assembled abroad; and politically organized producer groups greedily shoving their narrow material interests ahead of the interests of those countless consumers, firms, and workers who necessarily, if invisibly, have the bill for protectionism (to adapt your wording) shoved down their throats.
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