Sunday, June 25, 2006

Senators Don't Read, Exhibit A

A simple way to test the worth of a political or economic idea is to run it by politicians. And, carefully, watch it run by them. Over and over, for a century or two. If the editors of the Onion were political theory students, they'd be hard pressed to do better than the recent embarassing posture of Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has just aligned herself with those at the receiving end of Frederic Bastiat's satiric reductio ad absurdum of trade protectionism, The Candlemakers' Petition. David Boaz drops the Acme anvil on the unfortunate presidential hopeful here.

Key sentence from Clinton's statement on the tariff:

"Our manufacturers deserve a level playing field and we owe it to them to make sure that others do not unfairly circumvent our fair trade practices."

To be fair, how shameful that those foreigners, many of whom probably don't even speak American, should dare hatch plans to sell lengths of wax at a lower cost to the American people than Americans are willing to sell them. The American people deserve the pride of place that comes with being told by the federal government whom they sure as hell had better buy candlesticks from. For it is this deep-seated principle that yields "our fair trade practices." Meaning, those trade practices politicians lapse into defending when circumstances turn them unwilling to speak honestly about their motives. It isn't much more complex than "if you trade deficit us, we're gonna trade deficit you right back!"

But remember, we are talking about foreigners. Rotten, stinkin' foreigners. So the trade debate rages on.


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