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Open Letter to Sen. Josh Hawley (who might soon be looking for his very own Smoot)

Tweet [1]

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)
Washington, DC

Sen. Hawley:

In response to a Dan Drezner column [2] sharply criticizing your embrace of protectionism, you tweet [3] the following:

Is this a parody? “While globalization has undeniably created costs for some Americans, those costs are dwarfed by the aggregate benefits.” Right! So Americans should be HAPPY to lose their jobs to China. Thank you, professor! We had no idea! 🤣 🤣

Are you, sir, a parody? Seems so.

Suppose that Mr. Drezner had written instead “While technological advances have undeniably created costs for some Americans, those costs are dwarfed by the aggregate benefits.” Would you have bounced on to Twitter to ask snarkily if “this is a parody”? and then – elevating your snark – tweeted “Right! So Americans should be HAPPY to lose their jobs to Cyrus McCormick, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs.”

Your knee will jerkily deny the equivalence between losing jobs “to China” and losing jobs to innovation. But when you calm your knee, I challenge you to use your brain to explain why jobs lost as a result of Americans choosing to save labor by using technological innovations are different than are jobs lost as a result of Americans choosing to save labor by trading with non-Americans.

If you can offer a compelling explanation of such a difference, I and all of my fellow economists would love to hear it – and I’m confident that the Washington Post would be happy to publish your revelation. But until then, you embarrass yourself by displaying such appalling ignorance.

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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