A Protectionist is Someone Who…

by Don Boudreaux on February 24, 2018

in A Protectionist is..., Trade

… loves pirates and opposes efforts to fight piracy.  Protectionists correctly recognize that pirates reduce the flow of goods traded internationally.  The artificial scarcity of goods created by pirates furthers the protectionist’s goal of artificially pushing up the prices of goods in the domestic market, and, hence, pushes up the wages of workers who produce goods in the domestic economy that would have competed with the goods that are bound for the protectionist’s home country but are instead stolen by pirates.

It’s true that in the protectionist’s ideal world pirates would steal only goods bound for the protectionist’s own country and would allow free passage to all ports of ships loaded with exports from the protectionist’s own country.  But the protectionist, in this case, is a realist: because it’s impossible in practice to persuade pirates to seize only those goods on ships bound for the protectionist’s home country – the country that the protectionist claims to wish to see flourish – the protectionist nevertheless appreciates pirates’ socially constructive achievement of reducing the overall flow of goods traded internationally.


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