Call for Banana Independence!

Over at the Independence Institute, Robert Higgs writes a great little column on why we do not need to have energy independence. Here is some of it:

“Suppose a serious policy of “energy independence” were actually implemented, rather than being merely spewed out along with the rest of the political hot air. Would we be better off? Absolutely not. We would be vastly poorer because we would have to sacrifice a great deal more of the non-oil products we now produce and consume in order to acquire the petroleum products we demanded.

In a sense, every good or service we wish to consume raises the same question: make or buy? If we choose to make it ourselves, we must forgo the value of the goods we might have produced had we allocated our time, effort, and other resources in alternative ways—in the economist’s lingo, there’s an opportunity cost. If we choose to buy the desired good or service instead of making it ourselves, the value of the goods we could have enjoyed had we spent the money for them, rather than for the good actually purchased, represents the opportunity cost. So, whether we make or buy, there’s always an opportunity cost. Rational people answer the make-or-buy question by choosing the option with the lower opportunity cost.

If we were talking about bananas, everybody would see immediately the foolishness of seeking “banana independence.” Nobody would fall for half-baked arguments about our addiction to foreign bananas or our love affair with banana bread. It’s obviously uneconomic to grow millions of bananas in this country; it could be done, but doing it would entail much greater costs than buying them from producers in places better suited to their production (that is, places where they can be produced at lower opportunity cost).

The argument with regard to oil, or anything else, is identical.”

This is great because it finally takes all of those people who do not think that they are protectionists and show them it is the same line of thinking. I have heard it from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. I could not have put it better.

Here is the rest.


Published in: on August 18, 2008 at 5:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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