… is from page 102 of Bas Van Der Vossen’s and Jason Brennan’s excellent 2018 book, In Defense of Openness:
[T]he right to transfer and contract greatly increases the pool of resources people can enjoy. Most obviously, these rights give people the legal means to acquire resources they do not already possess, and allocate some of their own possessions to chosen others. This bolsters the flow of resources through the economy and helps guide them to their most valued uses. Slightly less obviously, the right to transfer offers people their most reliable method of acquiring that which they do not produce themselves. This enables the division of labor and thereby significant increases in productive efficiency.
DBx: The United States today has about 4.2 percent of the world’s population – which means that 95.8 percent of human beings alive today live outside of the U.S. And so for every one fellow American with whom each of us Americans can freely trade without the obstruction of protective tariffs, there are 23 non-Americans with whom each of us Americans cannot trade so freely.
Because human beings are the ultimate resource, each instance of the U.S. government obstructing Americans’ trade with non-Americans is an instance of the U.S. government obstructing Americans’ access to the gains for Americans that are possible from dealing economically with the ultimate resource.
Trade restrictions imposed by the U.S. government artificially shrink the range of opportunities open to us Americans to enrich ourselves materially. And not incidentally, such restrictions also make us poorer culturally, as well as less-civilized and more prone to shoot guns rather than to eat butter.
Protectionists are blind both to the full consequences of trade and to the full consequences of the protectionism – the “scarcityism” – that they endorse.
Protectionists of all ideological colors and hues, when they see the jobs ‘destroyed’ by trade, do not see the jobs created by trade.
Protectionists – nearly all of whom know much economic jargon but little of the economics from which this jargon springs – think it to be unfortunate for fellow citizens to become too costly to employ in particular jobs. Protectionists do not see that to be too costly to employ in particular jobs typically means to have better opportunities in other jobs. (Who among today’s many prominent peddlers of protectionism would think themselves to be made better off by being made no longer too costly to employ in whatever jobs they held at the age of 19?)
Protectionists miss the reality that whatever downsides there might be from free trade with foreigners exist for free trade with fellow citizens. Trade across political borders is no more prone to destroy jobs or businesses than is free trade across U.S. state borders and free trade across household borders. And protectionists miss also the reality that whatever upsides there might be from free trade with fellow citizens exist for free trade with foreigners.
Protectionists – at least the many of them who are sincere and not special pleaders for rent-seeking domestic producer groups – miss alot. To be such a protectionist requires economic ignorance and blindness. Anyone raised above this ignorance and, thus, cured of this blindness is no longer someone who sincerely believes that free trade poses a risk to domestic prosperity and that import tariffs and export subsidies will enrich fellow citizens as a group.