Eric Boehm: How Protectionist Trade Policies Screw Us All

The host of Why We Can't Have Nice Things explains how indefensible tariffs cause baby formula shortages, screw Hawaii residents, and increase traffic in the Northeast.


My guest today is Eric Boehm, a reporter at Reason who specializes in economic and trade policy. He's also the host of a fantastic, new six-part podcast series, Why We Can't Have Nice Things. Each episode looks at different ways that import and export laws and other sorts of mostly hidden regulations radically alter what we can buy, how much things cost, and how many options we have.

In one episode, Eric explains how the great baby-formula shortage of 2022 was vastly exacerbated by insanely stupid trade laws. Another episode explores why imported women's underwear is taxed at higher rates than men's underwear—and then there's one that shows how frozen chicken is being held hostage to decades-old trade wars. (All the episodes will be released over the coming weeks.)

It's an incredible podcast series that you should subscribe to here, or wherever you get your podcasts. I also talk with Eric about how growing up in eastern Pennsylvania and being raised Catholic shapes and informs his worldview, his politics, and his reporting, long after he has left behind both the Keystone State and weekly attendance at Mass. We also talk about the 2024 election season and what, if anything, he's looking forward to.

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  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things. A six-part Reason magazine podcast series about the frustrating and foolish aspects of American trade policy that make everyday items more expensive. From last year's sudden shortages of baby formula to the Jones Act and President Lyndon Johnson's infamous "chicken war," host Eric Boehm sits down with industry experts and libertarian policy wonks to explore how these counterproductive rules got made—and explains why they can be so difficult to undo.