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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

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… is from pages 1-2 of my late, great teacher Leland Yeager’s remarkable 1954 monograph, Free Trade: America’s Opportunity [2]:

Economics can appraise policies as means toward particular ends, but economics alone cannot lay down the ends that policy “ought” to aim at. For this reason, a supporter of any economic policy must rest his case not only on economic analysis but also on his idea of what is “desirable” – on his conception of the “good society” – on his so-called “value judgments.” Fortunately, intelligent discussion will often reveal a broadly-based agreement on fundamental values. The following value judgments underlie the case for Free Trade argued here: (1) That the well-being of individual human beings, as they themselves see it, is supremely desirable. (2) That high and rising standards of living in terms of useful goods and services are an important element in human well-being (though not necessarily of overriding importance). (3) That people should have as much freedom to run their own lives and businesses as is compatible with the freedom and well-being of others. (4) That no group of people has a right, merely because of the occupation or industry in which its members work, to special favor from the government at the expense of the general public.

DBx: Rejection of this fourth and final proposition supplies the foundation on which protectionists – almost always implicitly and often deviously – rest the core of their case for protective tariffs and other trade restrictions. Protectionists believe – sometimes sincerely, sometimes cynically, but always mistakenly – that a subset of existing domestic producers deserves to be able to rob and steal from everyone else because such theft increases the profits, wages, and chances of survival in their current lines of work of this subset of producers.

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