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Protectionism is Gang Violence…

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which is a truth not nullified but only masked by the fact that the gangs that impose and enforce protectionist policies are so overwhelmingly powerful that their victims seldom bother to oblige the gangs actually to unleash the violence that is a constant threat [2]. Here’s the conclusion of my most-recent essay – which is, formally, a tale of fiction – for AIER:

Many years after [the trade agreement] ORATA went into effect, a mysterious and sharp-witted woman by the name of Frederica Bastable arrived in Rolling Acres. Ms. Bastable immediately started asking every citizen who would listen a series of annoying questions, such as:

– “Why do you tolerate the Sharks’ continuing threats to slit your throat if you buy stuff from outside of Rolling Acres on terms that they disapprove of? Aren’t you – as the person who earned the income that you’re spending – the only person who should get to approve or disapprove of how that income is spent? What right have the Sharks to obstruct your peaceful trade?”

– “Why do the Sharks call it a “concession” to the Jets whenever the Sharks allow you greater freedom to buy goods and services from the people of Oakmont? Do you think that the people who principally benefit when your rulers lessen their obstruction of your freedom to trade are the outsiders who then sell you more stuff? And when you become more free to trade with outsiders, do you feel that you are thereby weighed down with a heavier burden – or do you feel that the burden that you bear to provide for yourself and your family has been lightened?”

– “Who is this tomato-farmer Jones that his economic well-being is more important than your own? Does the higher income that Jones rakes in only as a consequence of the Sharks’ obstruction of your freedom to trade morally justify the Sharks’ promise to slit your throats if you buy tomatoes from outside of Rolling Acres? And how does Jones’s higher income compensate you and others in Rolling Acres whose spending power falls as a result of the Sharks’ successful effort to make Jones’s spending power rise?”

– “Why don’t you all, as a People, just courageously refuse to let the Sharks obstruct your freedom to trade with whomever you wish and on whatever peaceful terms you wish?”

Alas, Ms. Bastable was dismissed by nearly every resident of Rolling Acres as either a nut-case or an unrealistic ideologue. She was soon run out of the neighborhood. And no one was more pleased and relieved to see her go than was Jones [a producer whose revenues are artificially raised by protectionist policies].

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