GMU Econ doctoral candidate Jon Murphy expands nicely upon one of my criticisms of Ian Fletcher’s stated reasons for denying the reality that trade deficits can be – and typically are – good for Americans .
To grow up is to cultivate methods of separating the wheat from the chaff in what we see and hear. Early on we learn to discount—if not disbelieve—the claims we hear in television commercials because we understand the role interest plays in describing goods and services. We also learn (one hopes) to treat the claims of politicians, the traditional targets of American ridicule, the same way.
There is no substitute for this sort of skepticism; it’s is a sign of maturity. A government effort to protect us from misinformation in the name of preserving “our democratic institutions” would be a contradiction, not to mention a “cure” far worse than the alleged disease. The best protection against one-sided, erroneous, even dishonest assertions is competition, the universal solvent.
Occupational licensing is ostensibly intended to protect the public from unsafe and low-quality service, but there is little evidence this intention is realized. Rather, there is a growing consensus among economists that these rules serve to protect incumbent providers from competition by creating barriers for new entrants that lead to higher prices for consumers.
Many Americans insist on “reciprocity” — that U.S. tariffs and other import restrictions and export subsidies should be removed only if other governments remove theirs. Why stop at trade? The same logic can be extended indefinitely. For example, U.S. cops should not stop murdering residents of the USA until cops in other countries stop murdering people there.