Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Death of Reductio, Free Trade Edition

The idea of reductio creep has been pretty well established in libertarian circles. The idea is that a stupid policy will be suggested to demonstrate the absurdity of some seriously advanced plan; everyone will explain to the arguer that there's no way anything that absurd will happen. A few years later, the idea originally presented as a reductio ad absurdum will be honestly suggested as a good idea. It happened with the anti-fat lawsuits and taxes; it happened with smoking bans.

Now consider a common pro-free-trade argument: "If it would be a good idea for Americans to stop importing goods from Mexico, why shouldn't New York stop importing good from New Jersey?" The usual answer is to try to explain why the two suggestions are totally different, or duck the question altogether. But reductio is dead, and while walking through the mall last week I saw this sign outside a video game store:

I want to cry.


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