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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

is from page 25 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 urge, then, that all protection is morally as well as economically bad. This is a very different thing from saying that all Protectionists are bad. Many of them, without doubt, are good, nay, excellent, as were in this country [the U.K.] many of the supporters of the Corn Law. It is of the tendencies of a system that I speak, which operate variously, upon most men unconsciously, upon some men not at all; and surely that system cannot be good which makes an individual, or a set of individuals, live on the resources of the community and causes him relatively to diminish that store, which duty to his fellow-citizens and to their equal rights should teach him by his contributions to augment. The habit of mind thus engendered is not such as altogether befits a free country or harmonizes with an independent character. And the more the system of protection is discussed and contested, the more those whom it favors are driven to struggle for its maintenance, the farther they must insensibly deviate from the law of equal rights, and, perhaps, even from the tone of genuine personal independence.

DBx: Yes.

Protectionists frequently insist that their policy is a means of giving workers dignity. Yet such dignity, even when sincerely felt, is false. It is not dignified to be employed in a job that exists only because the government forcibly restricts fellow citizens’ economic options. It is not dignified to be paid wages that are as high as they are only because fellow citizens are coercively prevented from spending their incomes as they choose. Employment in such jobs and receipt of such wages are parasitic, and there should be shame rather than dignity in being a parasite on fellow citizens.

Protectionists are peddlers of economic parasitism. They are to the body politic what the creature pictured above is to the body individual. The fact that many protectionists are unaware of the ugly nature and harmful consequences of that which they peddle speaks only to their intellectual weakness.