Governor’s New Trade Policy Will Lead to Subsidization of Foreign Consumption
[Note: This blog entry was written on Friday. The governor’s trip to Taiwan has since been canceled.]
Gov. Jay Nixon is travelling to Taiwan later this month, and a gaggle of subsidized special interests is tagging along. From a news release from the governor’s office:
Joining Gov. Nixon on the trade mission will be First Lady Georganne Nixon; David Kerr, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development; Jon Hagler, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture; and senior leaders from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Missouri Soybean Association; Missouri Corn Growers Association; Missouri Rice Council; Missouri Energy Development Association; Missouri Biotechnology Association; Boeing Corporation; Pfizer; Advantage Capital Partners; and other major industry associations and businesses.
All else being equal, increasing the exportation of subsidized Missouri goods will have the negative effect of forcing Missouri taxpayers to subsidize the consumption of their trading partners.
How does this work? Let’s say that the price of a particular good on a store shelf is $5. Let’s also say that that the production of that good received $2 in government subsidy. (The production of agricultural and technological products is subsidized at the federal, state, and local levels.) That means that the total price of the product to the domestic consumer is $7. When the foreign consumer purchases this same good, he pays the $5, but because he does not contribute tax monies to subsidize the production of the good, domestic taxpayers still pay the $2 in subsidy.
Missourians would be able to achieve higher overall levels of productivity and consumption if they focused on profitable non-subsidized economic activity and then engaged in voluntary trade with others. Eliminating agricultural subsidies would have positive consequences because taxpayers would be able to keep more of their earnings. This is because they would not be forced to continue to prop up agricultural industries so that they produce at a level that’s higher than optimal, nor would they be forced to subsidize the consumption of foreign consumers.
If public officials are serious about promoting economic growth in Missouri, they should avoid public policies that remove wealth from the regional economy.