A Simple Question

by Don Boudreaux on January 6, 2007

in Trade

Here’s a question for everyone — Lou Dobbs, Paul Craig Roberts, Pat Buchanan, Sen. Sherrod Brown, etc. — who believes that government should use force to reduce the amount of money domestic consumers voluntarily spend on goods and services offered for sale by foreign producers:

Do you believe that a consumer who has long patronized a corner bakery is morally obliged to continue patronizing that bakery?  Do you believe that government would be acting justly if it told that consumer "You must not take your patronage from this bakery.  We do not care if you no longer care for baked goods or if a new bakery across town offers you a better deal.  Because the owners and employees of this bakery have depended upon you for some time now to help keep their business and incomes afloat, you would harm them if you stop buying from them, or even if the amount you buy from them is substantially reduced"?

If you don’t believe that any such consumer is morally obliged to continue patronizing the corner bakery, on what ethical foundation do you rest your case for "protectionism"?


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