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Once-frequent Cafe Hayek commenter C__ W__ complained several months ago to me about my using his name in Cafe Hayek posts when I responded to him. Note that when C__ W__ commented publicly here at Cafe Hayek, he himself used his full name! He nevertheless threatened to sue me for libel because, in my responses to him, I identified him by his full name. Although he hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of winning such a lawsuit – after all, I say again, he himself publicly posted in the comments section here under his own full name! – I wished to be civilized and so, upon hearing his complaint, I removed his name from all posts.

Earlier today C__ W__ e-mailed me accusing me of lying about having removed his name. Turns out, he saw something that I didn’t even think of: Although I removed his name (and kept it removed) from all posts, in one post his name appears in that post’s URL. The post is from February 2018. The text of this post appears below, but I have just now deleted the original of this post from Cafe Hayek – despite the fact that I was under neither legal nor ethical obligation to do so. [UPDATE: Turns out that his name appeared in two urls, not just one url, here at Cafe Hayek. Both posts have now been deleted.]

I leave it to Cafe Hayek patrons to pass their own judgments on this matter.

Another Open Letter to C____ W_____
by Don Boudreaux on February 16, 2018
in Crony Capitalism, Myths and Fallacies

Mr. W_____:

I don’t understand why you think my example of an inexpensive cancer-curing pill to be inapposite.  That example, while hypothetical, probes the essence of an argument that American protectionists frequently use in their attempts to explain why foreign-governments’ abuse of their citizens justifies Uncle Sam’s abuse of American citizens.

To coherently make their case, protectionists must clear an ethical hurdle that is too seldom put before them – namely, they must justify their implicit assumption that domestic producers have a right to – a property in – the patronage of domestic consumers.  Yet this assumption is nearly impossible to justify when stated explicitly and squarely.  Does, say, Apple Inc. have a right to my patronage?  Am I morally obliged to buy some minimum number of smartphones from Apple every few years?  Does the lost revenue that my decision to stop using smartphones causes Apple to experience justify action by Uncle Sam to punish me?  Is it ethically appropriate for Uncle Sam to punitively tariff my decision to stop using smartphones?

If you answer ‘no’ to these questions, you thereby admit that Apple has no right to my patronage.  How, then, is it wrong for me to deny my patronage to Apple by purchasing a competing product that happens to be sold by a foreign firm?  Apple has thereby lost nothing to which it had any ethical or economic right or claim.  And this fact remains true even if the production of the imported smartphone that I choose to buy is subsidized by a foreign government.

Again, the foreign-government subsidy might well be said to inflict an injustice, but that injustice cannot possibly be against Apple given that that subsidy denies to Apple nothing to which Apple has any right or claim.  The injustice done by the foreign government is exclusively inflicted on, and exclusively borne by, those people who are forced to pay the price of this subsidy – namely, the taxpayers and consumers of that foreign country.

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