Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on March 29, 2018

in Immigration, Trade

… is from page 328 of the 1991 Robert Schalkenbach Foundation edition of Henry George‘s 1886 volume, Protection or Free Trade:

A wealthy citizen whom I once supported, and called on others to support, for the Presidential chair, under the impression that he was a Democrat of the school of Jefferson, has recently published a letter advising us to steel-plate our coasts, lest foreign navies come over and bombard us.  This counsel of timidity has for its hardly disguised object the inducing of such an enormous expenditure of public money as will prevent any demand for the reduction of taxation, and thus secure to the tariff rings a longer lease of plunder.  It well illustrates the essential meanness of the protectionist spirit – a spirit that no more comprehends the true dignity of the American Republic and the grandeur of her possibilities than it cares for the material interests of the great masses of her citizens -“the poor people who have to work.”

DBx: Mean people – in all senses of the word “mean” – find hope, promise, and protection in walls built where bridges belong.  And nothing much turns on the material used to construct any such wall: steel, concrete, barbed wire, diktats enforced by government agents who are instructed to extract punitive taxes from people who buy certain products – all such obstacles are an affront not merely to hopes for economic growth and widespread prosperity; they are an affront to civilization.  Such ignorance-fueled fear – such stupidity-induced hysteria for enforced artificial separation of ‘us’ from ‘them’ – is bad enough in individuals with no power, but in individuals with power, it’s terrifying.

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