The (Il)logic of Government Trade Policies

​From Cafe Hayek

by Don Boudreaux on January 27, 2017

in Not from the OnionTrade
More than six years ago I wrote a short post entitled “If Real Wars Were Like Trade Wars…”  I’d forgotten about it until David Neilson posted it today on his Facebook page.  Vain creature that I am, I believe that this old post deserves to be replayed now.  Here it is:
    In response to this report at Reuters on the looming trade war between Uncle Sam and Beijing, [HT Andy Roth] I sent in this comment (which, as of 1:03pm EDT today, has yet to appear on the Reuters’ site):
    If governments fought real wars like they fight trade wars, here’s how the transcript of the communiqués between the leaders of two warring nations would read:
    Leader of Absurditopia (A): I say, leader of Stupidia – we demand that you stop occupying that contested strip of land.  If you refuse, we’ll have no choice but to shoot our own citizens.
    Leader of Stupidia (S): You don’t scare us!  That land is ours.  And if you do kill some of your own people, make no mistake that we will immediately – and just as cruelly – commence to killing our own people.  Courage is our national motto!
    (A): Ha!  You’re bluffing.  But I’m not.  I’ve just courageously ordered my troops to mow down in cold blood ten percent of my fellow countrymen.  Take that!
    (S): How dare you attack you like that!  You leave us no choice but to attack us.  I am ordering the Stupidian army to slaughter 15 percent of innocent Stupidians here in Stupidia.  How do you like them apples?!
    (A): You are cruel and inhuman to damage us by killing your people.  I hereby instruct all of my fellow Absurditopians to commit suicide!  Only then will you nasty Stupidians get your proper comeuppance and we Absurditopians the justice that we are due!
    (S): You can’t beat us, you Absurditopian you!  Listen up.  I’m ordering all of my fellow citizens – Stupidians all! – to commit suicide.  We’ll see who emerges victorious!


Then a long, long silence.


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