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My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy is flabbergasted by the rank hypocrisy of Marco Rubio accusing the private sector of being insufficiently attentive to the long-run [2]. A slice:

The senator writes that “any prudent policymaker should recognize that both efficiency and resiliency are values we should prioritize and seek to balance.” I assume the “we” is other politicians like him. However, no entity has so surely proven itself to be less interested in the long run than has the U.S. government. Despite having a decade-long economic expansion where the government should have paid off some of its debt and reformed entitlement spending, Rubio and his colleagues, both in the House and the Senate, added trillions more to the national debt.

By habitually financing current programs and handouts with debt to be repaid by future generations, Congress and the President — Democrats and Republicans alike — offer solid proof that they are irresponsibly attentive only to the short-term (and quite the opposite of prudent policymakers).

Vero here again takes sharp aim at the fiscal incontinence of U.S. government officials [3].

In my latest column for AIER I tell again a story of stories [4]. A slice:

Simple-minded stories will also be told of how trade with foreigners makes us more vulnerable to pandemics and less able to protect ourselves. These stories, too, must be countered with fuller and more-compelling stories. Such better stories, based in fact, will tell of how free trade, by diversifying our sources of goods ranging from foods through chemicals to medical products, ensures the robustness of our access to such goods. These better stories will also reveal the heightened hazards to our health and safety that we would suffer directly from protectionism: to the extent that they are shielded from foreign competition, domestic producers have weaker incentives to improve, and even to maintain, the quality of their outputs, including that of their medical supplies.

Richard McKenzie explains the wide breadth of Adam Smith’s support for free trade [5]. A slice:

Economists have long discussed Smith’s understanding that production costs could be reduced, with a concomitant expansion of trade, by nations specializing their production in goods in which they had “absolute [not comparative] cost advantages,” attributable to, say, relatively greater soil fertility, an advantageous climate, and worker skills. Smith wrote [6]:

Whether the advantages which one country has over another be natural or acquired is in this respect of no consequence. As long as the one country has those advantages, and the other wants them, it will always be more advantageous for the latter rather to buy of the former than to make. It is an acquired advantage only, which one artificer has over his neighbour, who exercises another trade; and yet they both find it more advantageous to buy of one another than to make what does not belong to their particular trades.

I just learned of the reply, from 2011, by Ed Tower and Wazi Ligomeka to one of Ian Fletcher’s and Jeff Ferry’s pleas for protectionism. Tower’s and Ligomeka’s reply can be found here [7] by scrolling down. Here’s a slice from their reply:

Finally, “protectionism” is a loaded term. Every time one sector is protected with a tariff some other sector is persecuted as resources are drawn away from it. One sector’s protection is another’s persecution. Moreover, by tilting the playing field between different domestic activities the national interest is persecuted as well.

Speaking of trade, here’s a new podcast on this topic with Dartmouth College’s eminent trade economist Douglas Irwin [8].

Finally, on this Earth Day, here’s the great Bruce Yandle [9]. A slice:

Earth Day 50 years ago inspired forces that forever changed the world’s treatment of environmental assets. Across the half-century since then, significant regulatory changes have occurred, but with few noteworthy exceptions, the command-and-control templet still dominates America’s regulatory approach. Yet while environmental quality has been enhanced markedly, the presence of command-and-control has made the environmental journey slower and more costly than it might have been otherwise.

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