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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 98 of the 2015 Fourth Edition of Douglas Irwin’s indispensable volume, Free Trade Under Fire:

When a domestic industry asks the government to impose trade barriers that would raise the domestic price above the world price, the choice means trading off jobs in one sector of the economy for jobs in another sector, not creating or losing jobs overall.

DBx: Many protectionists believe themselves to make a solid argument against free trade by pointing to job losses in the domestic economy that can be traced to trade.  ‘Even if overall domestic wealth declines because of tariffs used to protect these jobs,’ protectionists often assert, ‘that loss must be weighed against the benefit of protecting some workers from the pain and indignity of job loss.’

Much is mistaken with this protectionist assertion, but at its core is protectionists’ failure to recognize that trade barriers that protect Jones from losing his current job cause Smith to lose his – or, at the very least, prevent Smith from getting a better job.  Protectionists applaud themselves for the humanity they show for worker Jones.  But they are blind to the damage their policies inflict on worker Smith (as well as to the damage their policies inflict on consumers Smith, Jones, Williams, Johnson, ….)