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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 41 of Milton & Rose Friedman’s great 1980 book, Free To Choose:

Another fallacy seldom contradicted is that exports are good, imports bad. The truth is very different. We cannot eat, wear, or enjoy the goods we send abroad. We eat bananas from Central America, wear Italian shoes, drive German automobiles, and enjoy programs on our Japanese TV sets. Our gain from foreign trade is what we import. Exports are the price we pay to get imports. As Adam Smith saw so clearly, the citizens of a nation benefit from getting as large a volume of imports as possible in return for its exports, or equivalently, from exporting as little as possible to pay for its imports.

DBx: Indeed so.

Today it is fashionable on the political left and right to discount, or even to altogether dismiss, Milton Friedman’s policy advice by slapping on it, and on him, an opaque label, such as “neoliberal” or “market fundamentalist.” People who slap such labels play cheap games; they do not engage in serious thinking and argument.

Milton and Rose Friedman would have been the last people to claim immunity from error and criticism. But any such criticism, to be worthy, must be substantive. So if you wish to dismiss the Friedmans’ policy analyses and advice, engage their claims and ideas. For instance, explain what you believe to be mistaken in the above quotation. Unless you can offer such an explanation, you should keep your mouth shut on this matter.