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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 183 of the 2015 Fourth Edition of Douglas Irwin’s brilliant volume, Free Trade Under Fire; Doug here summarizes the conclusion he reached after carefully surveying the procedures that define, and the results of, Uncle Sam’s scheme to shield U.S-based producers from the competition posed by what U.S. bureaucrats determine are imports offered to American consumers at prices that are too low:

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the antidumping laws are simply a popular means by which domestic firms can stifle foreign competition under the pretense of “fair trade.”

DBx: Here again is evidence of the importance of language.  If a nice name comes to be attached to a nefarious policy, even those people who are harmed by that policy can be misled into mistaking that policy as being one that works in their favor – or as being at least a policy that is admirably motivated or that achieves commendable outcomes for the public at large.  Who, after all, dares oppose trade that’s “fair”?  Who can object to “level” playing fields?  Who would not want the government to prevent its citizens from being “dumped” on by foreigners?  Who would applaud prices that are “too” low?  These labels sneak in the false conclusion both that what is so labeled really exists as such, and that the accompanying policies actually achieve the results implied by their labels.

Oh, but don’t forget (we are reminded), that there are formal procedures in the United States through which Uncle Sam’s officials consider complaints by American producers that American consumers have access to foreign goods sold at prices that are “too” low.  But here again is Doug Irwin (pages 178-179):

AD [antidumping] rules are intentionally stacked in favor of the domestic petitioner, both in reaching a conclusion that dumping has occurred and in the size of the dumping margin.  Even the Congressional Budget Office notes that the Commerce Department “effectively serves as investigator, prosecutor, judge, and jury in dumping and subsidy determinations.”  And although it should be neutral in these roles, Commerce is “actually an advocate of one of the parties to the case.”

You can call a grown wolf a “puppy,” but this change of names will not make the beast a trustworthy companion.


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