Here’s another letter to Ricky Miller:
Unlike you, I fervently hope that Pres. Trump proves to be, by his own standards, a complete flop at negotiating trade deals. The reason is that what Pres. Trump regards as American costs are, in fact, American benefits – and what he regards as American benefits are, in fact, American costs.
Negotiating for us to increase our exports as much as possible, and to increase ‘in exchange’ our imports as little as possible, the Trump trade team is unwittingly negotiating to enrich foreigners at our expense. ‘We insist on producing a lot more stuff for your enjoyment, and we demand that you produce as little as possible stuff for our enjoyment!’ is Trump’s message to foreigners.
Fortunately for us, foreign-government leaders are just as economically ignorant as is the Trump team. These foreigners are negotiating to enrich us with as many as possible of their citizens’ exports, and to receive from us as few as possible of our exports.
If a Martian eavesdropped on trade negotiations between Trump’s team and Chinese Pres. Xi’s team, that space traveler would initially conclude that Pres. Trump is a Chinese secret agent working to impoverish Americans and to enrich the Chinese, and that Pres. Xi is an American secret agent working to impoverish the Chinese and to enrich Americans.
And upon learning the truth of the matter, the Martian would quickly return to Mars and report that earth has no intelligent life.
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