Protectionists do not seem to be embarrassed to use any argument, no matter how specious. A powerful proponent of protectionism warns that American workers are becoming “hewers of wood and drawers of water.” Drawers of water? Well, there is some truth in that. We have seen numerous American workers in Washington, D.C., carrying water for industries seeking government protection from competition.
DBx: Note that the article from which the above quotation is taken was written 30 years ago. Nothing about protectionists’ arguments and tactics have changed over the past three decades. (Heck, nothing about protectionists’ arguments and tactics has changed over the past three centuries.) There have been superficial changes, of course. For example, in 1987 the protectionists’ warned that Americans were being impoverished by the Japanese; today the warning is that we’re being impoverished by the Chinese and the Mexicans. But, as always, protectionists darkly predict that mass unemployment and poverty wages are just over the horizon unless the state acts now to stop domestic consumers from buying so many inexpensive imports.
Well, since 1987 trade has become more free for Americans (although, of course, it isn’t as free as it should be). And despite claims to the contrary, the typical American today is vastly more prosperous than was the typical American of 30 years ago.
All of the many protectionists’ predictions that run counter to the predictions made by good economists consistently are proven false. Yet lots of people continue to fall for these predictions.