… gives everyone with whom he interacts the sensation of living in Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day .
For example, the protectionist asserts that every increase in the home country’s trade deficit (or, more broadly, current-account deficit) is an increase in the indebtedness of the people of the home country to foreigners (or a net transfer of capital ownership from citizens of the home country to foreigners). The economist then explains that this protectionist assertion is factually false . Moments later, the protectionist repeats his false assertion as if the economist’s explanation had never been offered.
Or the protectionist will make some factual claim – such as, for instance, that America’s industrial capacity has been hollowed out by globalization. The economist then offers data that – being as clear as data can be – show the protectionist’s factual claim to be mistaken . Moments later, the protectionist repeats his mistaken factual claim as if the economist had never presented the disproving data.
These are only two of many examples of the protectionist’s immunity to learning – which immunity, I realize as I write these words, should be wholly unsurprising because only those who are immune to learning remain sincere protectionists.