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There Is Nothing Unique About Competition from Across a Political Border

Here’s a letter to someone who wrote to tell me that his brother lost a job a few years ago in a tire-manufacturing plant in Oklahoma:

Mr. Tom Kessinger

Mr. Kessinger:

I’m truly sorry that your brother lost his job at Goodyear’s Oklahoma tire plant.  But I disagree with your assertion that “foreigners are to blame.”  Your brother would not have lost his job had not his fellow Americans stretched their budgets by choosing to buy lower-priced foreign-made tires.

Do you and your brother blame American consumers for seeking out the best deals for their dollars?  Surely not.  So if it’s acceptable for American consumers to seek out and to seize the best available deals, how can it possibly be blameworthy for sellers to compete to offer such deals?  And if it is acceptable for sellers to compete to offer better deals to consumers, what is it about being foreign that renders sellers who compete in this way blameworthy rather than commendable?

In short, why do you and your brother demonize foreign sellers rather than your fellow American consumers?  After all, it’s your fellow American consumers – spending (like you, I’m sure) their money as they deem best – who ultimately are to “blame” for the “destruction” of your brother’s job in the tire plant.

In fact, no one here deserves to be demonized, for what is at work is economic competition – without which your brother would never in the first place have gotten the job that he now is distressed to have lost.

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