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Here’s a letter to National Review:

Editor:

Kevin Williamson, with his usual eloquence, exposes the pretensions and fallacies that infest Elizabeth Warren’s scheme of “economic patriotism” (“Colbert Reports [2],” June 9). And Mr. Williamson is exactly correct to note that this policy – far from being cool, cutting-edge, and ‘progressive’ – was perfected by French Minister of Finance Jean-Baptiste Colbert in the 17thcentury. These policies, as Mr. Williamson wryly notes, “did not do much for France.”

With equal understatement, Adam Smith – in his 1776 An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations [3] [p. 467] – passed an identical judgment on M. Colbert’s economic patriotism:

“The French have been particularly forward to favour their own manufactures by restraining the importation of such foreign goods as could come into competition with them. In this consisted a great part of the policy of Mr. Colbert, who, notwithstanding his great abilities, seems in this case to have been imposed upon by the sophistry of merchants and manufacturers, who are always demanding a monopoly against their countrymen. It is at present the opinion of the most intelligent men in France that his operations of this kind have not been beneficial to his country.”

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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