Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on September 26, 2018

in Crony Capitalism, Myths and Fallacies, Trade

… is from page 94 of Pierre Lemieux’s superb 2018 monograph, What’s Wrong With Protectionism? (original emphasis):

To summarize, free trade is fair trade. The fair trade argument is usually an excuse for special interests or for state power. What is fair is to let each individual or private entity reach its own bargains. Even if domestic protectionism can favor some people in their own country at the cost of harming foreigner, and especially poorer foreigners, it does not seem morally acceptable. And remember that protectionism essentially means a government’s control over what its own citizens or subject may import, and under what conditions.

DBx: Yes.

Regardless of protectionists’ motivated reasoning, their intellectual contortions and acrobatics, their ethical double-standards and inconsistencies, and their incurable economic ignorance, there is no way to reconcile support for any measures of economic protectionism with a principled commitment to free markets and individual liberty. Anyone who supports protectionism on economic grounds is someone who either does not understand the case for free markets or, more likely, does not really believe that free markets are both economically and ethically superior to state direction and obstruction of economic activities. Such a person is often also a special pleader, one who bends over backwards to excuse – indeed, even to plead for – the plunder of innocent others if such plunder makes him or her materially better off.

Put differently, whenever someone says (as many people say) “I’m a free trader, but….” you can be certain that that person is neither a free trader nor a supporter of free markets generally. And it matters not what particular words follow the “but.”

Oh, don’t miss Caroline Baum’s column on Pierre’s monograph.

Comments

Add a Comment    Share Share    Print    Email

Previous post:

Next post: