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A Question for Protectionists 1

I’m starting a new series at Cafe Hayek. It’s called “A Question for Protectionists.” I invite protectionists to offer their best answers.


If, as you believe, competition with foreign firms and workers causes a long-term net decrease in domestic employment or a long-term decrease in domestic real wages (or some combination of these two effects), do you also believe that the labor-saving technological innovation that is a chief feature of modern economies does the same?

If not, can you explain why domestic-labor substitute X (imports) has a different effect than does domestic-labor substitute Y (labor-saving machines such as levers, wheels, bulldozers, and computers)? If so, given that humanity has for millennia increased its use of labor-saving technologies, why isn’t humanity today suffering massive unemployment and grinding impoverishment given your belief that imports permanently reduce the demand for labor?