… cannot get his or her head around the straightforward truth that production is justified only insofar as it satisfies people’s demands as consumers. The protectionist cannot grasp the fact that production, as such, has no value. The value of production – when it exists – comes only from the amount of consumption desires that it satisfies.
The protectionist believes that the ultimate purpose of economic activity is to improve, or at least to maintain, the economic well-being of some people in the particular roles that those people happen to fill today as producers. The protectionist believes (as I’ve written many times before on this blog) that people as producers possess an entitlement – a right – to the incomes of people as consumers.
The protectionist, at best, mistakenly concludes that, because production is a vitally important means, production thereby is an end. (The protectionist – to put it mildly – has never been celebrated for his ability to reason logically.)
The protectionist is someone who judges the success of a country’s economy by how well a subset of today’s producers in that country – producers who currently exist and who are today especially visible – currently are prospering. The protectionist ignores the welfare of people as consumers, and ignores also the welfare of future producers in that country as well the welfare of currently existing yet less visible, or less politically potent, producers.
The protectionist believes that consumers exist to serve existing, visible producers. He denies that producers exist – that production is justified – only to serve consumers.
The protectionist has all of the economic sophistication of a three-year-old. And also like a three-year-old, the protectionist is unable to comprehend his own intellectual limits. But unlike a three-year-old, the protectionist too seldom matures into a creature able to improve his understanding of the world. The typical protectionist remains an intellectual toddler well into his dotage and usually into his grave. He repeats, ad nauseam, the same worn slogans, debunked myths, and laughable fallacies – just as one generation of toddlers repeats the same ridiculous and irritating temper tantrums of every previous generation of toddlers.