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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 317 of the 1991 Robert Schalkenbach Foundation edition of Henry George‘s 1886 book, Protection or Free Trade:

Yet to begin and maintain great popular movements it is the moral sense rather than the intellect that must be appealed to, sympathy rather than self-interest. For however it may be with any individual, the sense of justice is with the masses of men keener and truer than intellectual perception, and unless a question can assume the form of right and wrong it cannot provoke general discussion and excite the many to action. And while material gain or loss impresses us less vividly the greater the number of those we share it with, the power of sympathy increases as it spreads from man to man—becomes cumulative and contagious.

But he who follows the principle of free trade to its logical conclusion can strike at the very root of protection; can answer every question and meet every objection, and appeal to the surest of instincts and the strongest of motives. He will see in free trade not a mere fiscal reform, but a movement which has for its aim and end nothing less than the abolition of poverty, and of the vice and crime and degradation that flow from it, by the restoration to the disinherited of their natural rights and the establishment of society upon the basis of justice. He will catch the inspiration of a cause great enough to live for and to die for, and be moved by an enthusiasm that he can evoke in others.

DBx: In the 21st century – and especially in a country as large and as (relatively) market-oriented as is the United States – George’s language in the second paragraph above is admittedly a bit flowery. Nevertheless, it speaks a truth: Protectionism not only makes people in the home country poorer than they would otherwise be, it makes them less free. Economic protectionism is a violation of rights – a violation justified inevitably with bizarre or incoherent ‘theories,’ and incomplete or irrelevant data, all presented ultimately for no purpose nobler than to artificially enrich the few at the greater expense of the many.

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