… is from pages 79-80 of Pierre Lemieux’s excellent 2018 monograph, What’s Wrong With Protectionism? (footnote deleted):
For individuals, the benefits of exchange cut across political borders – they are not confined within a country. If free trade between the United States and Mexico is detrimental, it should also be detrimental between California and Mississippi. Average wages are 40 percent lower in Mississippi than in California….
The typical protectionist will retort that free trade among countries is different. But why would that be the case? Protectionism against foreigners amounts to a coercive redistribution among the citizens allegedly “protected” – a coercive redistribution analogous to what would be the consequences of forbidding California consumers to buy from Mississippi producers, thereby redistributing income from California consumers to California producers.
DBx: Protectionism artificially increases consumer demand for the outputs of protected producers by intentionally intensifying scarcity in the home country. Protectionism thus reduces overall material wealth in the home country. The typical protectionist, though, misses this reality because he or she mistakes protectionisms’ happy impact on protected producers for its impact on the entire country. (Protectionists are fonts of many fallacies, but the chief one in which they truck is the fallacy of composition.)
Thus, as Pierre above points out, the benefits that protectionism yields for its clients come from its clients’ – its proponents’ – fellow citizens. But these fellow citizens are out of sight of those not fitted with proper ‘economic’ lenses. These fellow citizens and their suffering are thus out of protectionists’ minds. It’s easy to plunder unseen victims and heartwarming to witness the joy that is experienced by those who receive the resulting booty.