A Protectionist is Someone Who…

by Don Boudreaux on March 9, 2018

in A Protectionist is..., Myths and Fallacies, Trade

… believes that Smith works for Jones not to earn income to spend in ways that improve Smith’s life and those of her family members but, instead, to earn income to spend in ways that improve other people’s lives – specifically, to improve the lives of Jones and of other producers whose passports are issued by the same agency that issues Smith’s passport.  A protectionist is someone who believes that the purpose of Smith’s income-earning efforts is to enable Smith to better buoy the fortunes of existing domestic producers by buying those producers’ outputs.

The protectionist is so convinced that Smith’s has a moral obligation to spend her income to buoy the financial fortunes of domestic producers that if Smith dares to spend her money in ways that she judges to be best for her and her family but that the protectionist judges to be insufficiently supportive of the desires of existing domestic producers, the protectionist feels ethically justified in calling upon the state to extract from Smith – if necessary, at gunpoint – punitive payments for her alleged misdeeds.

The protectionist, in short, believes that Smith earns income, not for herself, but for others.


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