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A Parasite Is Not Productive

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Here’s another letter to the New York Times.

Editor:

Oren Cass’s profound ignorance of economics leads him into a forest of fallacies (“The Communal Power of a Real Job [2],” August 4).

Consider, for example, his leaping from the correct recognition that “[g]enuine prosperity depends upon people working as productive contributors to their society” to his support for trade restrictions and other policies that guarantee the opposite result.

I could point out here each of the many specific fallacies that infect Mr. Cass’s argument, such as his support for legislation that would reduce the U.S. trade deficit by having the Federal Reserve tax purchases by foreigners of American assets – a policy that, if ‘successful,’ would not only depress the value of assets held by Americans, but by shrinking America’s capital stock would over time reduce American workers’ productivity and, in turn, their wages.

Instead, though, I make this general point: people who work at particular jobs that exist only because government violates fellow-citizens’ freedom to spend and to invest are not “people working as productive contributors to their society.” With their gains forcibly extracted from their fellow citizens, such people are parasites on their society. Mr. Cass’s blindness to this reality should disqualify him from his self-appointed role as spokesman for American workers.

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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