Prof. Wittgenstein, Please Call Your Office

Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan

President-elect Trump complains that trade with China is “one-sided.” Does he speak English or what? One-sided trade is like one-sided triangle: you can say it, but you can’t mean (think) it.

Chinese folks deliver goods to Americans (through Walmart, etc.), and we willingly buy them. The Chinese then invest some of their proceeds in the United States. Well, I guess that is one-sided — but wait! They later reap rewards from their successful investments.

It’s two-sided after all, isn’t it?

Perhaps Trump means that the United States has fewer barriers to Chinese goods than China has to American goods, i.e., American consumers’ freedom to buy is better respected than Chinese consumers’ freedom to buy. Since Trump favors tariffs (which would raise prices to Americans and push Chinese goods out of our market), I guess he thinks respect for our freedom is bad and the denial of their freedom is good.

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Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan
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Sheldon Richman is the executive editor of The Libertarian Institute, senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at He is the former senior editor at the Cato Institute and Institute for Humane Studies, former editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education, and former vice president at the Future of Freedom Foundation. His latest book is America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited.