Richard Epstein plumbs the depths of Barack Obama’s economic ignorance, and man, there’s some plumbing to do:
The president’s speech was equally lacking when it came to the topics of free enterprise and international trade. At the grand level, the president is always effusive in his praise for free markets—“the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world has ever known.”
But then the other shoe drops when he addresses particular problems. He wants a world in which “we export more products and outsource fewer jobs.” But he never acknowledges that the only way in which we can export more is by allowing other nations to export their products to the United States, so that trade could work for the mutual advantage of both sides. His jingoistic attitude about outsourcing jobs leads him to overlook how low-cost imports can strengthen U.S. firms in the export market. He should have stressed reduced barriers and open trade, yet his one-sided mercantilist message was that free trade is good, but protectionism is even better.
It is not possible to have such a thin and immature understanding of how an economic system is put together by accident. That can only arise from the failure to adopt the right premises in the first place.
In the future, historians will debate whether Obama’s failures were due to ignorance or stubborn adherence to dogma. And a lot of them will be debating it, because the “Obama Failure Studies” departments of future universities will be huge.