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Production Is a Means; Consumption Is the End

Summary:
Here’s a letter that I sent a few days ago to the New York Times: Your report “Trump’s Stalled Trade Agenda Leaves Industries in a Lurch” (August 7) is a microcosm of today’s larger trade debate.  In your report, as in that debate, we hear much about “industries,” “businesses,” “steelworkers,” “steel producers,” and other producer groups.  Yet save for one passing mention in your report of American home-buyers suffering from rising lumber prices caused by a looming trade war with Canada, we hear nothing about the one and only group to which all Americans belong and whose interests count far above all when assessing trade policy: consumers. By ignoring consumers’ interests in having access to a vast global supply of goods and services – and by instead catering to domestic producers who

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Here’s a letter that I sent a few days ago to the New York Times:

Your report “Trump’s Stalled Trade Agenda Leaves Industries in a Lurch” (August 7) is a microcosm of today’s larger trade debate.  In your report, as in that debate, we hear much about “industries,” “businesses,” “steelworkers,” “steel producers,” and other producer groups.  Yet save for one passing mention in your report of American home-buyers suffering from rising lumber prices caused by a looming trade war with Canada, we hear nothing about the one and only group to which all Americans belong and whose interests count far above all when assessing trade policy: consumers.

By ignoring consumers’ interests in having access to a vast global supply of goods and services – and by instead catering to domestic producers who profit artificially when government impedes that access – politicians and trade officials are destined to craft trade policies that enrich a handful of Americans at the larger expense of the rest of us.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

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Don Boudreaux

He is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Previously, he was president of the Foundation for Economic Education.

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