Protectionism

by Don Boudreaux on July 17, 2014

in Crony Capitalism, Myths and Fallacies, Trade

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

You rightly criticize the U.S. government’s imposition of punitive taxes on Americans who buy steel made outside of America (“Protectionists Steel Washington,” July 17).  Economic arguments of the sort that you make against protectionism are powerful and necessary.  I myself make these arguments repeatedly.  I’ll continue to do so and hope that you will too.

Yet occasionally it’s important to step away from these economic arguments in order to expose protectionism’s immorality.

Protectionism is government intimidation unleashed against consumers to oblige them to buy products that they prefer not to buy.  Protectionism is force that enriches the politically powerful at the expense of the politically impotent.  Protectionism is business people capturing rents from receiving special favors from the state rather than earning profits from giving good service to the public.  Protectionism is the myth that money belongs not to consumers who earned it peacefully but to suppliers who steal it coercively.  Protectionism is the corrupting lie that absurdly and insult​ingly insists that mass flourishing results from monopoly and dearth rather than from competition and abundance.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

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