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Trade Wars Are Easy to Win

Trump has gotten lots of push-back for his recent boast that trade wars are easy to win.  Yet by protectionists’ own criterion, Trump is – I choke to say it – correct.  Protectionists believe, above all, that among the greatest scourges that can be visited upon the people of their nation is increasing abundance of goods and services available to those people.  (Such increasing abundance, after all, destroys many existing firms and many existing jobs.)  Well, trade wars, when vigorously and stubbornly fought, decrease material abundance for the peoples of all nations who prosecute such wars.  Therefore, trade wars are indeed easy to win because the criterion for victory is greater scarcity at home – and the greater the scarcity, the greater and sweeter the ‘victory’!


On his Facebook page Steve Horwitz posts this cartoon.

It’s a clever visual, one that conveys much important truth.  Yet on one front it is misleading – namely, in real trade wars, each of the belligerents points his gun at himself (or, a bit more accurately, at the citizens that that belligerent ostensibly represents) rather than at other governments or at the people’s of other nations.