… insists that free trade can work in reality only under the most stringent of textbook ‘perfect’ conditions,* and that any ‘failure’ of trade in reality to achieve the ideal outcomes that protectionists demand of a policy of free trade is proof that free-trade theory does not apply in reality and that a policy of free trade is economically harmful.
Yet the same protectionist glibly assumes, without warrant, that government officials will carry out protectionist prescriptions apolitically and scientifically, and – inconsistently with his claim that free trade must be evaluated only according to strict textbook standards – the protectionist never bothers to discuss the conditions that must hold for protectionism to ‘work’ in reality.
In short, the protectionist condemns and dismisses free trade as unworkable because he can imagine free trade to work only ‘imperfectly,’ and he champions protectionism as being superior to free trade because he can imagine that protectionism works ‘perfectly.’
The typical protectionist is neither an economist nor a systematic thinker. The typical protectionist is but a champ at grasping for and grabbing whatever convenient excuses might be swallowed by the general public for his policy of artificially creating more scarcity in the home economy. That the excuses the protectionist grabs and trumpets as justification for his policy of scarcityism are very often inconsistent with each other seems never to bother the protectionist.
* The typical protectionist – whose understanding of economics is, at best, superficial – doesn’t really know the textbook conditions to which he refers. He fancies that he knows and understands these conditions, but he does not.