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The Best Trade Deals are the Millions of Such that Occur When Trade is Free

Here’s a letter to one of two recent correspondents who accuse me of not trusting Trump. (The accusation is accurate, for I trust no politician.)

Mr. Ted O’Brien

Mr. O’Brien:

Thanks for your e-mail in which you upbraid me for, as you put it, “not trusting our President to work out better trade deals for us.”

You’re correct that I don’t trust Trump to work out better trade deals for us. You are incorrect to upbraid me for this distrust.

The fact is, I trust no one to “work out” better trade deals for us. Each and every trade to which an American voluntarily agrees is a trade – a “deal” – that that American believes makes him or her better off. Therefore, because each and every trade restraint blocks some of these trades, each and every trade restraint makes some Americans worse off.

Put differently, I trust each and every American to work out for himself and herself the trades that are best for him and her. And I trust only each and every American with this authority, and only over himself and herself. The very fact that Trump must use threats of force to obstruct countless voluntary trades – countless voluntary deals – that would otherwise occur is virtual proof that his trade obstructions harm Americans.

Far from ‘working out’ for each of us trade deals that are better, tariffs – regardless of who negotiates them – work out for us trade deals that are worse.

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