The other night I went into Georgetown to see a show a friend from childhood was performing (shameless plug: check out Grace Morrison). It occurred to me, as it sometimes does, how wealthy trade has made us all. Here I was, in a bar, having a drink, watching a friend sing. How was any of this possible? Because of trade:
Someone else was growing my food
Someone else was writing my books
Someone else was brewing my beer
Someone else was making my clothes
Someone else was driving my train
Someone else was lighting the room
These countless “someone elses” had freed up time for me to have that greatest luxury of all: leisure time with friends. And, subsequently, they freed up time for Grace and her band to write songs, travel hundreds of miles, and perform for us. And all these “someone elses” asked for in return from me was a few economic ramblings and writings. All they asked for in return from Grace was a few songs.
Trade allows us to free up time, time which can be used for innovation, or study, or leisure. Despite what the protectionists (whom I shall now refer to as scarcitists, since they peddle scarcity. That name may need work) argue, this increase in time is a good thing. It’s how humanity advances and why we can afford diversions. We can study things like medicine, music, art, and philosophy because someone else is growing the food, making the clothes, etc.