… is from pages 65-66 of David Friedman’s superb 1996 book, Hidden Order:
Most public discussions of trade issues are based on a system of ideas that disappeared from economics about a hundred years after the Copernican revolution eliminated Ptolemy’s system from astronomy. It is rather as if the New York Times had carried editorials worrying about how the Apollo expedition was going to avoid crashing into the first of the crystalline spheres – the one at the orbit of the moon.
DBx: Yes. And so matters remain nearly a quarter century after Friedman wrote these words. As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, prominent discussions of trade policy continue to be grounded in medieval ignorance.
Donald Trump, Peter Navarro, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Oren Cass – the list is long of people who continue proudly to peddle the economic equivalent of Ptolemy’s “theory” of celestial spheres. These people should, of course, be deeply embarrassed by their comically ridiculous pronouncements on trade. But their knowledge of economics is more than sufficiently abysmal to protect them from such chagrin.