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A Brute in a Suit

Here’s a letter to USA Today:

You report that Pres. Trump not only is unhappy with General Motors’s decision to close some of its factories in the United States, but that he told G.M. executives that they “better get back to Ohio and soon” (“Trump blasts GM plan to cut plants, says he was ‘tough’ on CEO Mary Barra,” Nov. 27). Mr. Trump’s reaction is ironic, disturbing, and revealing.

It’s ironic because Pres. Trump himself is responsible for reducing the profitability of automakers’ U.S. operations by imposing tariffs that artificially hike the prices that these manufacturers pay for a major input: metals.

It’s disturbing because such attempted bullying by a government official of a private company smacks of authoritarianism.

It’s revealing because Pres. Trump, who is often lauded as a savvy businessman, here exposes his failure to understand what is obvious to even the most mediocre of business people – namely, success requires constant effort to keep costs as low as possible.

That Pres. Trump criticizes G.M. for doing what every successful business must do to remain competitive should give pause to voters who support Mr. Trump on the grounds that he allegedly will ‘run’ America like a business.

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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