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A Protectionist is Someone Who…

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… does not seem to doubt that, because Abraham Lincoln and the Union won the United States civil war, southerners and northerners alike are enriched by trading freely with each other, but that had the civil war been won instead by Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy, southerners and northerners alike would have been impoverished had they nevertheless continued to trade freely with each other.

A protectionist is someone who is haunted by a slew of superstitions, none wackier than that which holds that political boundaries somehow cause voluntary trades that cross them to differ in their consequences from what those consequences would be were the political boundaries elsewhere.

There is no making sense of protectionism. It is as intellectually respectable as is the belief that voodoo is effective or that humanity will be done in by carnivorous butterflies. And ethically, protectionism’s proponents are on par with thieves and muggers.

The only circumstance that saves many protectionists from being treated as if they truly are thieves or muggers is the reality that, being so utterly incompetent at thinking, many protectionists don’t have the mens rea [2] required to be regarded as criminally endorsing the theft of other people’s property.

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