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Quotation of the Day…

… is from Pres. Ronald Reagan’s January 25, 1988, State of the Union address:

Where others fear trade and economic growth, we see opportunities for creating new wealth and undreamed-of opportunities for millions in our own land and beyond. Where others seek to throw up barriers, we seek to bring them down. Where others take counsel of their fears, we follow our hopes.

DBx: Although even back then at least as aspirational as descriptive – and although Reagan’s actual trade policies often fell far short of his rhetoric (as Doug Irwin documents in Clashing Over Commerce) – Reagan’s words were, and remain today, worthy of applause. In contrast, Trumpians on the right and Sandersnistas on the left explicitly fear free trade, snarling at it, hissing at it, and in their stupidity denouncing it as a source of impoverishment, exploitation, and decline.

Because I believe that words matter greatly, I’m torn between wishing to praise Reagan for his soaring and excellent rhetoric in support of free trade and being tempted to criticize Reagan for his hypocrisy on this front – for, again, Reagan’s actions very often failed to follow his words. So I do both: Reagan deserves praise for his presidential administration being the first ever in American history to endorse free trade explicitly (see Irwin, page 573), and he deserves criticism for being more protectionist in practice than he was in his public pronouncements.

But of course whatever your opinion of Reagan’s words on trade and his policies on trade, he was on both fronts vastly superior to the current occupant of the White House – a man who embodies and embraces all the massive ignorance, arrogance, and cronyism that is protectionism.