… is from page 15 of William Gladstone’s January 1890 contribution to a debate, with James G. Blaine of Maine, on free trade versus protectionism; these remarks are published in volume CCCXCVIII of the North American Review:
I shall boldly contend that the whole of this doctrine – that capital should be tempted into an area of dear production for the sake or under the notion of keeping it at home – is a delusion from top to bottom. It says to the capitalist, Invest (say) a million dollars in mills or factories to produce yarn and cloth which we could obtain more cheaply from abroad – that is, be it remembered, which could be produced abroad and sent here at a smaller cost of production, or, in other words, with less waste ; for all expenditure in production beyond the measure of necessity – call it what we may – is simple waste. To induce him to do this, you promise that he shall receive an artificial instead of a natural price; and, in order that the foreigner may not drive him from the market, this artificial price shall be saddled, through the operation of an import duty, upon the competing foreign commodity; not in order to meet the wants of the state, which is the sole justifying purpose of an import duty, but in order to cover the loss on wasteful domestic production, and to make it yield a profit.
Protectionism is wasteism – wasteism that artificially enriches the few at the larger expense of the many.