The Double ‘Thank-You’ Moment

John Stossel is one of my heroes and, especially considering his role as a commentator/reporter within the mainstream media, his strong grasp of economic and political issues from a pro-liberty perspective is astonishing. One of his most recent columns is all about that moment when you are speaking to a store clerk and both of you say “thank you.” This, Stossel points out is the essence of free market capitalism and is the greatest single difference between voluntary exchange and government force.
The essence of the “thank you” is that you are getting something you want, say a cup of coffee, and the company/employee is getting something they want, namely money. Both parties consider themselves to be “winners” in the transaction.
This is rather different from government interactions. How often do you enclose a “thank you” note with your income tax return? Not often I’d imagine. Ultimately, international trade is no different from the interaction between a Starbucks employee and a customer. Rather than getting in the way, the US government should abandon tariffs and subsidies, especially on agricultural products, and allow Americans to trade freely with citizens of other nations…even Cubans.

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