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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 86-87 of the 1992 Liberty Fund edition of John Taylor‘s remarkable 1822 tract, Tyranny Unmasked; much of this powerful and insightful work is devoted to challenging the arguments of a January 1821 report of the Congressional Committee of Manufactures calling for tariffs to help expand industry:

john_taylor_of_carolineThe system of economy advocated by the Committee enables the capitalists to value their own goods, and compels the purchasers by prohibitions and restrictions, just as they were compelled by war, to purchase them at the valuation of the sellers, although except for this compulsion, they might have been gotten cheaper….  All that the capitalist gets by his own valuation, beyond the price at which the purchaser could have gotten the commodity, except for the compulsion bearing upon him, is a total loss to the purchaser, and an entire acquisition to the capitalist of so much of the purchaser’s property.  Such a system of political economy must obviously be more ruinous to all interests except the capitalists….

DBx: Protectionism is theft, on two fronts.  First, it robs consumers of freedom.  Second, it robs consumers of some of their wealth – their property – by compelling them to pay higher prices for protected goods and services.  Paying unnecessarily higher prices for protected goods and services causes a reduction in the amounts of other goods and services, current or future, that consumers are able to acquire.

The final outcome for consumers is no different than if the special-interest groups who successfully lobbied for the protectionist measures had simply donned black outfits and ski masks to burgle consumers’ homes.  (Actually, there is some small differences: unlike protectionists, black-draped burglars at least do not attempt to justify their thievery by assuring their victims that their burgling is for the victims’ benefit.  Nor do black-draped burglars have legions of pundits and professors busily engaged in crafting illogical, fanciful accounts of how being victimized by burglars increases the amounts of household goods that victims get to enjoy as their own.)