Size Matters

A Google-brand internet search (don’t dilute your trademark, kids) for the phrase US Superpower brings up about three and a half million hits. Many of these results, including three of the top ten, question the legitimacy of the ‘Superpower’ label.

As the chart below implies, this is pretty silly. Our economy is almost equal to all of the EU, equal to the EU minus Britain or Italy, and five times the size of China or Japan.

Objectively, we are an economic superpower. The only question that makes any sense is the moral one; should we throw our weight around? Libertarians have a hard time voicing a consistent, principled foreign policy. Unfortunately, so does the State Department.

I’m fine with things like exports, imports, international trade, low/nonexistent tariffs, open borders. These institutions and processes conserve and create value, efficiency, freedom, and diversity. I object when protectionists swing our weight for some “moral” cause, because something is “unfair”; that is usually shorthand for “a result I don’t like”. I would weigh the “unfairness”, some people feel against the manifest benefits that both consumers and producers in free societies and markets produce. In short, buy something because it’s quality, efficient, useful, or cost-effective, not because it was made here.

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1 Response to Size Matters

  1. The reason libertarians — large-L mostly, but a few small-l specimens as well — can’t deal with foreign policy rationally is that it falls outside the zone of applicability of the principle of individual rights.

    Every principle has a delimited domain of applicability. It’s the hallmark of the ideological zealot to insist that his favored principle answers all questions and resolves all tensions, here and everywhere, now and forever — and it’s the chiefest of all reasons why libertarianism has made so little headway among Americans, who ought to be strongly disposed toward it ab initio.

    We have to learn some humility, guys.

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