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“We” Should Leave Us Alone

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:


Nothing is easier than doodling down fine words. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) displays his facility for such in an April 9th op-ed, “Americans are ready for a comeback. Congress must help unleash it.” Much more challenging is the task of grasping the operational meaning of those words and tracing out the full consequences of putting them into effect. On this front, the senator’s silence reveals his intellectual laziness and ignorance.

Consider, for example, this aspiration: “We must also move decisively to secure our critical supply chains and bring production back to this country.” Who’s “we”? Is it “us” as represented by politicians on the Potomac? If so, why doesn’t Sen. Hawley expressly criticize the Trump administration for imposing tariffs on medical supplies from China rather than support additional such impositions? These tariffs disrupt American health-care providers’ immediate access to medical supplies. But they also, as explained by Chad Bown, encourage Chinese suppliers to divert export sales to countries other than the U.S., thereby reducing the abundance of such supplies to which we’ll have access in the future.

Some few of us in Washington, with no knowledge of the complex real-world details of actual supply chains, have moved to make insecure critical supply chains that many others of us, on the ground and with detailed knowledge of different supply opportunities, had on our own secured and would today be using to good effect but which instead are now disrupted – disrupted by the ignorant and arrogant few of “us” in Washington.

It’s downright Orwellian that Sen. Hawley and other apologists for a policy that disrupts existing supply chains call for further such disruptions in the name of better securing supply chains.

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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