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A Protectionist is Someone Who…

Summary:
… believes that years of historically unprecedented state brutality (such as reigned in Maoist China), continuing abnormal oppression, a relatively weak rule of law, comparatively poor infrastructure, comparatively little education, comparatively primitive skill-sets, and comparatively few capital goods to work with make workers who live and toil under these conditions such fearsomely adept, talented, and productive – indeed, indomitable – competitors of workers in the United States and other first-world countries that the only hope that first-world workers have of withstanding the onslaught of goods and services produced by these other workers is for first-world governments to protect first-world workers from having to compete against the priviliged-by-oppression hordes of

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… believes that years of historically unprecedented state brutality (such as reigned in Maoist China), continuing abnormal oppression, a relatively weak rule of law, comparatively poor infrastructure, comparatively little education, comparatively primitive skill-sets, and comparatively few capital goods to work with make workers who live and toil under these conditions such fearsomely adept, talented, and productive – indeed, indomitable – competitors of workers in the United States and other first-world countries that the only hope that first-world workers have of withstanding the onslaught of goods and services produced by these other workers is for first-world governments to protect first-world workers from having to compete against the priviliged-by-oppression hordes of invincible-at-any-and-all-tasks workers who populate countries much poorer than the United States.  “American workers can compete with anyone!” boasts the American protectionist – who immediately betrays the insincerity of his boast by asserting that there’s no way that American workers can “compete” with low-wage foreign workers.

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To be precise, the above is a first-world protectionist.  A third-world protectionist believes something akin (although not completely identical to) the opposite.  A third-world protectionist believes that workers and firms of the third-world are so backward and hopelessly inept at every conceivable task that free trade with the first-world would grind the people of the third-world even further into poverty and despair.

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Don Boudreaux
He is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Previously, he was president of the Foundation for Economic Education.

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