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Protectionist Lies

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Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Editor:

United States Steel Corp. CEO David Burritt pleads for government to protect his industry by punitively taxing American buyers of foreign-made steel (Letters [2], March 26). But he overplays his hand by writing that “For decades, foreign countries and their steel companies have been flooding steel imports into the U.S. at the expense of … our national economic security.”

Surely if low-priced foreign steel endangers America’s “economic security,” evidence of our economic decline would now be overwhelming given that this perilous product has allegedly been “flooding” onto our shores for decades. Yet where is such evidence?

Unemployment in the past half century seldom has been as low as it is today [3]. U.S. industrial production hit an all-time high in November [4]. American exports reached an all-time high last year before Pres. Trump’s trade war took its predictable toll on them [5]. U.S. industrial capacity is now at an all-time high, [6] as is real GDP per capita [7]. Ditto for household net worth [8], which in inflation-adjusted dollars is today 70 percent higher than it was in 2001, the year when China joined the WTO, and 300 percent higher than in 1975, the last year when America ran an annual trade surplus [9].

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
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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