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More Questions for Protectionists

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This post isn’t the first in which I’ve posed questions to protectionists.  (See here for links [2] to earlier questions.)  I’ve yet to receive an answer to even one of these questions that is remotely persuasive.  Most answers are rooted firmly in an ignorance of basic economics or of facts of reality (including facts of history) – and, often, rooted in both.

Anyway, immediately below are some additional questions for protectionists.

– Does your neighbor have the right to take up vegetable farming in his backyard without being fined by the government for doing so?

– Does your neighbor have the right to repair his ten-year-old car in order to keep it running for a few more years?

– Does your neighbor have the right to change the oil, with his own hands, in his own car?

– Does your neighbor have the right to buy a used car?

– Does your neighbor have the right to sell his car, to move closer to work, and to walk or bicycle daily to work rather than drive to work?

– Does your neighbor have the right to change her diet?

– Does your neighbor have the right to sew and mend her own dresses and blouses?

– Does your neighbor have the right to polish his own shoes?

– Does your neighbor have the right to clean his own chimney with his own hands?

– Does your neighbor have the right to do more cooking at home?

– Does your neighbor have the right to get sick of traveling and, therefore, to travel from home much less than she did in the past?

– Does your neighbor have the right to mow his own lawn?

– Does your neighbor have the right to manicure and polish her own fingernails?

– Does your neighbor have the right to improve her physical fitness?

– Does your neighbor have the right to cut her own children’s hair?

– Does your neighbor have the right to give up smoking tobacco products?

– Does your neighbor have the right to give up drinking alcoholic beverages?

– Does your neighbor have the right to save a larger portion of her income?

I suspect, Mr. & Ms. Protectionist, that your answer to each and every one of these questions is “Yes, of course.”

If my suspicion is correct, then in your economics you are hopelessly inconsistent.  You see, if your neighbor exercises any of the above rights, your neighbor reduces the demand for the output of some domestic firms.  And if lots of your neighbors exercise these same rights, the resulting reduction in the demand for the outputs of domestic firms will destroy some particular domestic jobs and cause some particular domestic firms to go bankrupt.  If you and your neighbors are Americans, then your neighbors’ exercise of these rights will destroy some jobs for certain American workers – for example, for certain barbers, for certain physicians, for certain bartenders and supermarket clerks, for certain motel clerks and motel maids, for certain restaurant cooks and restaurant waiters, for certain auto workers, for certain workers in U.S. tire factories.

So here’s a further question: if you grant your neighbors the right to reduce their demands for domestic outputs in the ways implied in the list of above questions, why do you insist on having the government punitively tax your neighbors whenever they reduce their demands for domestic outputs by purchasing more goods and services from foreigners?  If the destruction of domestic jobs by buying imports is such an economic calamity and moral offense that the government is justified to intervene to prevent fellow citizens from acting in ways that lead to those job losses, why not have the government intervene to prevent your neighbors from doing the likes of keeping their cars in such good repair that their demands for new cars falls?

Why do you think economic catastrophe will befall the domestic economy and domestic workers if consumer demands for particular outputs fall because fellow citizens buy more imports, but worry not if consumer demands for particular outputs fall because fellow citizens change their diets or become more handy around the house?  If your neighbors’ purchase of foreign-made tires or of foreign-grown tomatoes is so ethically offensive and economically calamitous as to warrant government obstruction of your neighbors’ freedom to act in this particular economic manner, why are you so blasé about your neighbors’ driving less or growing their own tomatoes?

I eagerly await your answers.  I am truly curious how you distinguish your neighbors’ actions as identified in the list of questions above from your neighbors buying more imports.

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