… is from page 83 of Samuel Gregg’s superb 2022 book, The Next American Economy: Nation, State, and Markets in an Uncertain World:
Protectionism may make American consumers pay more for often lower-quality goods, but tariffs and import quotas directly benefit those American businesses who resent the disciplines of competition and want to make it harder for others to enter “their” markets.
All protectionists – left, center, and right – aid and abet the plunder of fellow citizens by politically powerful producer groups. Fellow citizens as consumers, fellow citizens as workers, fellow citizens as investors, and fellow citizens as entrepreneurs all, as groups, suffer as a result of the special privileges bestowed by protectionist measures on protected producers.
Protectionists – many out of ignorance, some out of cunning – boastfully point to thriving protected industries and workers and scream “Success! Protectionism works!” Ignored are the higher prices and lower product qualities endured by home-country consumers. Ignored are the home-country businesses shrunken or destroyed by the artificial diversion of resources into protected industries. Ignored are home-country jobs that are destroyed, that are never created, or that pay less. Ignored are the resulting lower rates of economic growth. Ignored are the perverse incentives that protectionism gives to business people – incentives for business people to lobby for protection rather than to produce for consumers. And, of course, ignored is the battering of freedom that is an inevitable result of protectionism.
Protectionism is piracy – piracy carried out by brutes in suits.