…is Frederic Bastiat’s 1850 magnum opus Economic Harmonies found on page 493 of the Mises Institute’s The Bastiat Collection:
Upon the subject of human wants, I have to make an important observation – and one that, in Political Economy, may be regarded as fundamental – it is, that wants are not a fixed immutable quantity. They are not in their nature stationary, but progressive.
Scarcely has a man found shelter than he desires to be lodged, scarcely is he clothed than he wishes to be decorated, scarcely is he satisfied in his bodily cravings than study, science, art, open to his desires an unlimited field.
JMM: Exactly. Man is always striving to improve his condition. There is always something new to want, to satisfy some new need that was pushed aside when other things were more pressing. As one want gets satisfied, two more take its place.
As such, international trade can never fully result in one nation becoming beholden to another. Those who worry about China destroying US production, who think China can simply dominate us all and subsequently run a monopoly on us, forget this key point. If China satisfies the need for toys, then the need for computers and airplanes can replace it. And so on and so on. As needs/wants get satisfied, more arise, which allows for more specialization and trade.