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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 570 of Douglas Irwin’s great 2017 volume, Clashing Over Commerce; Doug is here discussing manufacturing in the United States during the 1980s:

The real issue confronting the manufacturing sector was an intensification of competition, driven as much by developments in technology as by foreign competition, which forced restructuring in almost every industry. Domestic firms responded to greater competition by trying to become more efficient, closing inefficient production facilities, and finding ways of maintaining production with fewer workers in order to reduce costs. Competition forced all domestic firms to reduce production costs, upgrade the quality of their products, or move into new lines of business in order to survive.

DBx: To complain about imports – that is, to fret about economic changes caused by (fellow citizens voluntarily choosing to buy more) imports – is to fret about economic competition. You show me a protectionist and I’ll show you, with 98 percent likelihood, someone who proudly expresses support for “competition” and who expressly abhors “monopoly.” That is, I’ll show you someone who doesn’t understand that international trade is merely one of many channels through which competition occurs and that the protectionist policies that he or she endorses are a means of dampening competition by granting to some domestic producers monopoly power over a vastly larger number of domestic buyers.