Here’s a letter to my increasingly angry correspondent Nolan McKinney:
You’re correct that many Americans share what you describe as “deep admiration, respect and pride in President Trump’s tough stance on negotiating trade with China.” Yet these fine feelings about Mr. Trump’s “tough stance” spring from a profound misunderstanding.
What’s so admirable and respectable about one man – Trump – officiously overriding many of the trading decisions that you, me, and each of our fellow Americans individually choose to make with Chinese suppliers? I neither admire nor respect anyone who presumes, as Pres. Trump routinely does, to obstruct trade between two consenting adults. And rather than swell with pride when someone impedes my ability to trade, I burn with anger.
Trump’s ‘toughness’ is exercised most directly against his fellow Americans who are guilty of nothing more sinister than choosing to spend their incomes in ways that they judge to best improve their standards of living. And his ‘toughness’ confers on a handful of American producers special privileges that are sought only by cowards who possess not a jot of the true grit and toughness necessary to succeed honorably in the competitive market.
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