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Don Boudreaux on protectionists – an unpersuadable lot blind to the full effects of trade – Publications – AEI

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AEI Don Boudreaux on protectionists – an unpersuadable lot blind to the full effects of trade More sage insight from Don Boudreaux, this time on the incurable blindness of protectionists/scarcityists to the full effects of international trade: Protectionists – with exceptions too rare to mention – are an unpersuadable lot. They are blind to the full effects of trade. Just as you cannot make a blind man ‘see’ the color yellow and ‘see’ how the color yellow differs from the colors green and red, you cannot make a protectionist see: the jobs created in the domestic economy by trade that the consumer benefits created in the domestic economy by trade overwhelm whatever short-term ‘losses’ trade (that is, economic competition) inflicts that a rising domestic trade ‘deficit’ is generally both

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Don Boudreaux on protectionists – an unpersuadable lot blind to the full effects of trade

More sage insight from Don Boudreaux, this time on the incurable blindness of protectionists/scarcityists to the full effects of international trade:

Protectionists – with exceptions too rare to mention – are an unpersuadable lot. They are blind to the full effects of trade. Just as you cannot make a blind man ‘see’ the color yellow and ‘see’ how the color yellow differs from the colors green and red, you cannot make a protectionist see:

  • the jobs created in the domestic economy by trade
  • that the consumer benefits created in the domestic economy by trade overwhelm whatever short-term ‘losses’ trade (that is, economic competition) inflicts
  • that a rising domestic trade ‘deficit’ is generally both evidence of a healthy domestic economy and a source of further domestic economic growth
  • that a government that stands ready to dole out protectionist favors will inevitably be corrupt and captured by special-interest groups
  • trade across political borders is a manifestation of healthy economic competition that differs in absolutely no meaningful ways from any other manifestation of healthy economic competition.

In short, you cannot make a protectionist see. Protectionists are incurably blind to all but the indistinct outlines of a few large, well-lit figures that dance immediately before their noses.

The goal of free traders ought not be to ‘convert’ protectionists. Such conversions are impossible – or too improbable to be concerned with. The goal, instead, is to persuade those who haven’t yet formed settled opinions on the matter – especially young people – that all peaceful trade deserves a strong presumption of legitimacy, and that this presumption is not weakened one iota for trades that happen to traverse political borders.

Don Boudreaux on protectionists – an unpersuadable lot blind to the full effects of trade
Mark Perry

Mark Perry
Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus. He is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem. At AEI, Perry writes about economic and financial issues for American.com and the AEIdeas blog.

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