What’s also missing from Rodrik’s story is how the policy change [to freer trade] came about. If Nicholas loses and John gains from repealing a trade barrier, then doesn’t that mean that at some point in the past it was Nicholas who gained at John’s expense when that trade barrier was first imposed? And so here we have in a nutshell the negative impact of protection. When a barrier is imposed, the protected party (in this case Nicholas) gains $200, but only by imposing a cost of $300 on John. The $100 loss in total societal wealth is what an economist would call the “deadweight loss” of trade barriers — lost efficiency for both producers and consumers.
Steve Landsburg offers a characteristically creative perspective on Trump’s attempt to bribe farmers to stop complaining about Trump’s
tariffs punitive taxes on Americans who purchase imports and import-competing goods .