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Quotation of the Day…

… is from Tim Harford’s excellent February 2017 essay “Remind me what’s so great about trade“:

The first and most fundamental insight is that all human civilisation is built on some sort of trade. I’m not much of a farmer but, fortunately, I am able to trade the books I write for food and for the electricity that lets me cook. Even my books rely on others to make the paper, design the word-processing software, bind the pages, design the covers, handle the logistics . . . Some of this I could do myself, albeit slowly and incompetently. Other things I couldn’t begin to attempt.

DBx: This insight truly is foundational. It is the insight with which Adam Smith began his 1776 masterpiece, An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. And as Smith went on to explain – and as thousands of economists have explained ever since – political borders do not alter the reality or importance of this insight.

Protectionists would have you think otherwise. Protectionists would have you mistakenly believe that patterns of trade, competition, and cooperation – patterns that freely arise from the choices of the individuals involved and that are otherwise beneficial when confined to within the boundaries of a single country – are always suspect and often impoverishing when these patterns of trade, competition, and cooperation span political boundaries.


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