… is from pages 97-98 of the 2015 Matthew Dale translation of Weiying Zhang’s superb 2010 book, The Logic of the Market:
Bad policies that arise from vested interests – or policies set for one’s own interests – are also ubiquitous. Trade protectionist policies are a classic example. Because some enterprises and workers are threatened by competition, they use various means to persuade the government to limit trade freedom to protect their own interests. Of course, pursuing one’s own interests is not a problem as long as personal happiness is attained by first creating value for others according to market rules. The bad policies that arise from the vested interests to which I refer are the policies whose results do not lead to attaining profit by creating value for others; instead, they sacrifice other people’s interests in order to attain income. Therefore, they are bad policies. Trade protectionism makes the majority of consumers subsidize a small number of producers (and the workers who are employed by those enterprises).
DBx: Rapists, thugs, and thieves improve their lives by using coercion or threats of coercion to reduce the range of options available to others. Civilized, peaceful, and productive people improve their lives by using commerce to expand the range of options available to others. Neither the raw facts of the matter nor the ethics of these alternative courses of action are altered one bit if the rapists, thugs, and thieves hire well-dressed agents to carry out their schemes and rename these plunderous schemes “trade policy.”