… believes that both the nature and the consequences of competition can be fundamentally transformed from good to bad – from desirable to dubious – merely by changing the agency that issues the passports of the owners of some of the firms that compete for consumers’ business.
The same protectionist who doesn’t think twice about, say, American aluminum producer A competing against American aluminum producer B, against American steel producer C, and American plastics producer D believes that if aluminum producer A were suddenly to be put under the jurisdiction of another government then the nature of the competition that A poses for B, C, and D suddenly becomes fundamentally different and far more troublesome – that such competition that happens to come from a firm located outside of the domestic jurisdiction, unlike competition that comes from firms within the domestic jurisdiction, will cause unemployment, falling wages, and economic woe.
The protectionist rarely ever bothers even to acknowledge – and much less to address – the criticism that lies at the heart of the above two paragraphs. This reticence is likely due to the fact that there is simply no good economic response to this criticism. The protectionist ultimately is someone who believes that political borders emit invisible waves or particles that mystically change the nature of any commercial transactions that happen to cross those borders. This belief, of course, is no more defensible than is the belief in alchemy, haunted houses, or leprechauns.