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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 113 of John Mueller’s excellent 1999 book, Capitalism, Democracy, & Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery:

Put another way, free trade furnishes the economic advantages of conquest without the unpleasantness of invasion and the sticky responsibility of imperial control.

DBx: Jones can gain by raiding, but only by inflicting harm on Smith at least equal to Jones’s gain. Jones can also gain by trading, but only by enabling Smith also to gain.

Raid or trade? The civilized choice is clear. It happens also to be the choice that results in economic growth – that is, that results in increases in the well-being of everyone. (Please, be silent about trade’s alleged “losers.” I’m talking about the long run – the time span over which adults assess social institutions and policies. Over the long run there are no losers from trade.)

And though it’s not always obvious, it is always true that those who propose to coercively obstruct trade are proponents of raiding. Protectionists, of course, deny that they are any such thing. So put this question to a protectionist: “Are you, Mr. or Ms. Protectionist, willing to allow tariffs to be voluntary? That is, are you willing to allow each buyer not to pay the tariffs if that buyer chooses not to pay them? Are you willing to have customs agents ask for voluntary contributions rather than demand required payments?”

The protectionist will respond, in so many words, “No!” Thus will your point be proven.