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If ‘If’ Were a Skiff…

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:


At least two crucial gaps mar Adam Scher’s and Peter Levin’s “Imported Chips Make America’s Security Vulnerable” (May 26).

First, no evidence is offered that the importation of component parts has inflicted on America’s telecommunications and transportation systems any actual harm. The authors serve up only scary hypotheticals.

Second, the authors overlook the most likely reason why they have no examples of actual harm – namely, private firms are driven by strong incentives to avoid importing component parts that will jeopardize their customers’ telecommunications and transportation systems. These incentives don’t guarantee protection against harm, of course, but they do justify counseling against rushing to give government more power to obstruct trade.

Never forget: to grant such power is not necessarily to grant either the knowledge required for it to be used productively or the incentives for it to be used in the public interest.

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