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Tag Archives: war

Peace Through Commerce

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal: Editor: Andy Kessler notes that the Trump administration, by cutting off China’s Huawei from buying advanced microchips made by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., increased Beijing’s likelihood of launching a military offensive against Taiwan (“China Is Losing Its Bet on Chips,” Nov. 16). If Chinese manufacturers can’t acquire high-quality chips through commerce, their government might attempt to acquire the chips for them through...

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Subsidies, Like Tariffs, Impoverish

This letter addresses one of the countless zombie myths about trade: Mr. Crosby: You ask: “How do free trade principles deal with a powerful foreign country like China unfairly subsidizing its exports to us and using the profits to build its military up?” The assumption that sparks your question is widespread but mistaken. Sales made only because of subsidies bring in revenues less than the full costs of producing the goods that are sold. To subsidize such export sales, Beijing acquires...

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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 196 of Matt Ridley’s excellent new (2020) book, How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom: The development of the computer is always supposed to have been accelerated by wartime funding, but the counterfactual of what would have happened if war had not broken out (in 1939 for Britain and Germany, in 1941 for America), is hard to discern. By 1945, without war, there would undoubtedly have been devices that were electronic, digital, programmable and general...

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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 162 of Steven Pinker’s important 2018 book, Enlightenment Now (footnote deleted): [M]any Enlightenment thinkers advanced the theory of gentle commerce, according to which international trade should make war less appealing. Sure enough, trade as a proportion of GDP shot up in the postwar era, and quantitative analyses have confirmed that trading countries are less likely to go to war, holding all else constant. DBx: Whatever the merits of, and success at, restricting trade...

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Be Careful With this Exception

Here’s a letter to frequent and valued Café Hayek commenter Richard Fulmer: Mr. Fulmer: Your comments at Café Hayek are always valued. Thank you for them. In your comment on this post you understandably point to the national-defense exception to the case for free trade. This exception is real, yet one must take care to avoid embracing it too quickly. Politicians and pundits who call for restricting trade in the name of national defense often forget trade’s mutuality. It’s true that the...

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If ‘If’ Were a Skiff…

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal: Editor: At least two crucial gaps mar Adam Scher’s and Peter Levin’s “Imported Chips Make America’s Security Vulnerable” (May 26). First, no evidence is offered that the importation of component parts has inflicted on America’s telecommunications and transportation systems any actual harm. The authors serve up only scary hypotheticals. Second, the authors overlook the most likely reason why they have no examples of actual harm – namely, private...

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Rumors of War

Will future historians recount how World War III was started by an unknown and rather eccentric American economist obsessed with China and by a president desperate to stay in power by stirring nationalism after a disastrous and unpopular first term? Let’s hope not but consider some troubling trends. In response to a tweet of mine pointing out that President Trump is (characteristically) “both for and against lockdowns,” a Twitter follower suggested that the...

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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 214 of Deirdre McCloskey’s excellent 2019 book, Why Liberalism Works: How True Liberal Values Produce a Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World for All: An important evil of nationalism – aside even from its intrinsic collective coercion, in line only with an “ancient” liberty, and its tendency to define minorities such as Jews and Muslims and Mexicans as “not us” – is that it inspires war. DBx: Society larger than the family or tribe – society as we moderns understand it –...

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We Should Applaud and Not Oppose Foreign Investment in Our Country

Here’s a follow-up note to Mr. B. Johnson: Mr. Johnson: Thanks for your follow-up e-mail in response to this note in which I summarize my reasons for not sharing your worry about purchases by foreigners of businesses in the United States. You write “Ownership changes but you [Boudreaux] miss the point on the control which moves to hands not necessarily possessing the same interests, motivations and sympathies as a domestic owner might possess. Control is attached to the ownership.” With...

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