Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on February 11, 2017

in Reality Is Not Optional, Seen and Unseen, Trade, Video

… is from pages 123-124 of the 1992 collection of some of William Graham Sumner’s finest essays, On Liberty, Society, and Politics (Roger C. Bannister, ed.); specifically, this quotation is from Sumner’s January 1881 Princeton Review essay, “The Argument against Protective Taxes”:

Unknown-2If an industry does not pay, it is an industrial abomination.  It is wasting and destroying.  The larger it is the more mischief it does.  The protected manufacturer is forced to allege, when he asks for protection, that his business would not pay without it.  He proposes to waste capital.  If he should waste his own wealth he would not go on long.  He therefore asks the legislature to give him power to lay taxes on his fellow-citizens, to collect from them the capital which he intends to waste, and good wages for himself while he is carrying on that business besides.  This is what is called “developing our industries,” and the operation of the law is such that the waste and destruction can go on indefinitely.  Either an industry can pay under freedom, in which case it does not need protection, or else it would not pay under freedom, in which case it is wasting the wealth of the nation as long as it goes on.

DBx:  Indeed so.  And yet Trump is hailed by his deluded fans as an economic savior – one who, by punitively taxing American consumers, will enrich them; one who, by artificially restricting the flow of goods and services into America, will increase Americans’ access to goods and services; one who, by protecting domestic industries from competition, will make American industries more competitive; one who, by ensuring that we produce at home those goods and services that we could acquire at lower costs abroad, will increase the efficiency of America’s economy; one who, by coddling existing domestic producers with tariffs and subsidies, will make us all great again.

Trump and his trade triumvirate are, of course, complete economic imbeciles.  But so too are the millions of Americans who fall for the centuries-old mercantilist fallacies that Trump and his triumvirate peddle will all the wiles that Mr. Haney uses to peddle his wares.

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