… is from pages 164-165 of my Mercatus Center colleague Dan Griswold’s excellent 2009 volume, Mad About Trade:
America’s antidumping law is considered holy writ by members of Congress. They express horror at the thought that American companies would be left to the mercy of global competition without being able to use the antidumping law to defend themselves against “unfair” trade. But the antidumping law itself is unfair and has no connection to fairness or sound economics….
By design, the antidumping law is stacked against foreign producers and their American customers.
DBx: Read again the important last four words of this quotation: “and their American customers.” Protectionists always speak of tariffs and other import restrictions as impositions the burdens of which fall exclusively on foreign producers (usually, as in the case of antidumping cases, on foreign producers who have the audacity to sell their wares to us at prices that are especially low). And while domestic protectionist measures do indeed harm foreign producers, every protectionist measure is also – indeed, chiefly – a restriction on the freedom of domestic consumers to spend their money as they choose. Tariffs, antidumping duties, and all protectionist impositions make domestic citizens less free (by closing off areas of voluntary exchange that they would otherwise choose to engage in) and less prosperous (by diminishing the volume of goods and services available in the domestic market for people to consume).
Protectionism is rank economic idiocy and an unquestionable assault on liberty. And it becomes no smarter or prettier just because it is costumed in moralistic language (such as “fair trade” or “leveling the playing field”) or is pushed by your preferred political party rather than by some other political party.