The Logic of Protectionist Nationalists
By Pierre Lemieux
It seems that economics and logic were not the strong fields of protectionist nationalists in college—or at least this is the case with the three lieutenant governors who published an op-ed in The Hill at the beginning of the Summer. In the just-published Fall issue of Regulation (the electrons are still hot and the paper version has not yet hit the newsstands), I write:
The USMCA, the authors glowingly wrote, will “increase U.S. annual agricultural exports by $2.2 billion.” This crowing claim comes just a few lines after the statement that “agriculture is what puts food on the table, literally and metaphorically.” They better take their “metaphorically” very literally because exported agricultural products actually take food away from American tables in order to feed foreigners.
No wonder that with this sort of coherence, protectionists think they can prove anything, including that the only benefit of free trade lies in exports.
For a view of the free-market view of trade, have a look at my article. One question it answers is, Why do American exporters work for foreigners? I also review recent data on the impact of the 2018 tariff on the domestic price of washing machines.