Making American Menial

by Don Boudreaux on May 11, 2018

in Trade

Here’s a letter to Donald Trump:

Earlier today you said “We’re importing a lot of cars. We want a lot of those cars to be built in the U.S. Build them here, and also ship them overseas. Doing a reverse act.”

Soooo….. You want to arrange for us to spend more of our own time, labor, and resources producing valuable outputs to be shipped overseas, and for us to receive fewer valuable outputs in return. I’m stumped. Can you spell out just how this arrangement will “make America great again”?

Are we made “great” when our government simultaneously obliges us to produce more goods and services for foreigners, and for those same foreigners to send to us in exchange fewer goods and services? In what way, Mr. President, do we Americans “win” at trade – in what manner are we Americans “put first” – when you force us to work harder than we otherwise would to produce goods and services for foreigners’ consumption, and for foreigners to work less hard than they otherwise would to produce goods and services for our consumption?

Given, sir, your topsy-turvy understanding of trade, I’d much prefer that you pursue trade policies at which we ‘lose’ – policies that ‘put America last’ and that ‘make America menial.’

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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