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competitive advatage

Economics/Politics

The Magic Box Of Free Trade

With the presidential campaign of Donald Trump comes much discussion about trade with foreign nations. A common theme is the notion that trade needs to be restricted, or at least heavily taxed, in order to protect domestic production. The line of thinking goes that if foreign companies are able to compete on even footing with American companies, their access to cheaper labor and fewer environmental regulations gives them an unfair advantage. This advantage could harm domestic businesses and cost American jobs. This fact is nearly undeniable. Jobs in manufacturing sectors competing with foreign producers will undoubtedly be displaced by these cheaper alternatives. However, the impulse to restrict and tax imports is misguided. The French economist, Frederic Bastiat, demonstrated the absurdity of domestic protectionism in a satirical piece called The Candlemaker’s Petition. In it, the producers of light-emitting goods lobby the government for special laws restricting their unfair competitor, the sun. Another Bastiat work, That Which is Seen and That Which is Not Seen, presents the idea that the direct… Keep Reading

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