Costs Are Not Comforts, and Burdens Are Not Benefits

by Don Boudreaux on March 28, 2017

in Myths and Fallacies, Seen and Unseen, Trade

Here’s another letter to the indefatigable Mr. Nolan McKinney:

Mr. McKinney:

Scolding me for criticizing Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s “Buy American” bill, you praise the senator for what you call her “realism in that low priced imports destroy American jobs and prosperity.”

With respect, if you and Sen. Baldwin really believe that Americans’ greater access to lower-cost supplies of goods and services destroys American jobs and prosperity, then you should think much, much bigger than merely saddling infrastructure projects with “Buy American” provisions.  You should instead oppose all infrastructure improvements.

Improved infrastructure allows businesses to produce and get goods to market at lower costs.  That is, improved infrastructure allows businesses to produce and to get to market any given amount of goods and services with fewer workers and other inputs.  If, as you say, American firms’ access to lower-cost methods of production destroys American jobs and prosperity, then you and Sen. Baldwin should press to have American infrastructure not rebuilt but, rather, wrecked.

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


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