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What’s Your Best Guess?

Here’s another letter to “proud Trump man” Nolan McKinney:

Mr. McKinney:

You call me “cowardly” for not naming, in this post, those individuals who I accuse of being motivated by political opportunism into abandoning their support for free trade.

Wrong. My motivation in this matter isn’t cowardice; it’s civility.

You proceed to “wonder why” I “deny the likeliness that these defenders of our President’s tariffs sincerely changed their minds, being convinced by President Trump’s arguments that unfairly cheap imports and massive trade deficits weaken our economy.”


I concede that it’s not strictly impossible that all of these individuals, each of whom is now in some political orbit around Trump, have sincerely changed their minds. And of course changing one’s mind is proper when one’s understanding of the world changes. But in this case I’m not buying it.

The combination of two facts – one: history presents an unending parade of people selling their souls for power and positions near the prince; and two: Trump’s case for protectionism is both comically cartoonish and grounded in blatant myths about the American economy (myths that some of these Trump apologists themselves pointed out before Trump’s political ascendance) – gives me no reason to credit any of these people with motives higher than raw and ugly opportunism.

If I misjudge some or all of these individuals, I apologize for being guilty of what I think to be forgivable error. But if my judgment of these individuals is correct, they are guilty of behavior that’s deplorable, economically destructive, and also – take special note – cowardly.

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


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