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A Protectionist is Someone Who…

Summary:
… cannot begin to understand why each human being on earth does not sell all of his or her possessions for cash and then stash the cash forever into secure hiding places. After all, if having more money rather than less money makes a person economically better off, why does nearly every human being who is able to do so accumulate the likes of clothing, food, shelter, indoor plumbing, furniture, consumer electronics, works of art, music downloads, books, and blankets instead of maximum quantities of currency? Indeed, why do we observe human beings routinely giving up money in order to obtain real goods and services? Is the whole of the human race mad? The protectionist – if he were consistent – would answer this question with a firm ‘Yes!’ for such an answer is implied in the very

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… cannot begin to understand why each human being on earth does not sell all of his or her possessions for cash and then stash the cash forever into secure hiding places. After all, if having more money rather than less money makes a person economically better off, why does nearly every human being who is able to do so accumulate the likes of clothing, food, shelter, indoor plumbing, furniture, consumer electronics, works of art, music downloads, books, and blankets instead of maximum quantities of currency? Indeed, why do we observe human beings routinely giving up money in order to obtain real goods and services? Is the whole of the human race mad?

The protectionist – if he were consistent – would answer this question with a firm ‘Yes!’ for such an answer is implied in the very logic of his case for protectionism – a case that celebrates increased exports and laments increased imports.

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Of course, the fact that the richer people are the greater are the quantities of real goods and services that they choose – usually very eagerly – to consume should be understood to imply that the core logic of protectionism is bogus. Protectionists, alas, are not logical, so the truth of this reality will escape them.

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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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