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Want More Production? Support Free Trade

Here’s a letter that Phil Gramm and I sent to the New York Times on December 28th; the Gray Lady chose not to run it. We later expanded this idea into this piece in the Wall Street Journal.


Robert Lighthizer thinks he offers a solid defense of Trumpian protectionism by declaring that “there’s a group of people who think that consumption is the end. And my view is production is the end” (“A New Tax on Imports and a Split From China: Trump’s 2025 Trade Agenda,” Dec. 27). In fact, his declaration undercuts his case.

To produce is to increase humanity’s access to useful goods and services, and the greater is this increase, the greater is production. But protectionism reduces a nation’s output of goods and services – and, hence, reduces its citizens’ access to goods and services. If Mr. Lighthizer truly wishes to maximize production, he’d support free trade.


Phil Gramm
Mr. Gramm, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
Helotes, TX

Donald J. Boudreaux
George Mason Univ., Mercatus Center
Fairfax, VA

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