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You might be a protectionist…. – Publications – AEI

Summary:
AEI You might be a protectionist…. …. if your neighbor is abusing his children and you justify the abuse of your own children by spinning a tale of how your abuse might prompt your neighbor to stop abusing his children. That was inspired by Don Boudreaux’s post on the Cafe Hayek blog “Predation Never Justifies Predation” (and Don’s comments in an email), here’s a slightly modified excerpt of Don’ post: [Protectionists] insist that Beijing’s obstructions of its citizens’ freedom to trade require that Uncle Sam similarly obstruct Americans’ freedom to trade. These [protectionists] miss the crucial fact that the fundamental and chief tensions created in this case by Beijing are among only the people of China. Beijing’s tariffs and subsidies, in effect, seize the property of some Chinese

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AEI
You might be a protectionist….

…. if your neighbor is abusing his children and you justify the abuse of your own children by spinning a tale of how your abuse might prompt your neighbor to stop abusing his children.

That was inspired by Don Boudreaux’s post on the Cafe Hayek blog “Predation Never Justifies Predation” (and Don’s comments in an email), here’s a slightly modified excerpt of Don’ post:

[Protectionists] insist that Beijing’s obstructions of its citizens’ freedom to trade require that Uncle Sam similarly obstruct Americans’ freedom to trade.

These [protectionists] miss the crucial fact that the fundamental and chief tensions created in this case by Beijing are among only the people of China. Beijing’s tariffs and subsidies, in effect, seize the property of some Chinese citizens in order to transfer it to other Chinese citizens. But because these Beijing-engineered seizures take from no American anything to which an American has a property right, what ethical justification is there for Uncle Sam to create identical tensions in the U.S. by seizing the property of some Americans in order to transfer it to other Americans?

In what moral universe does A’s forcible transfer of B’s property to C justify X’s forcible transfer of Y’s property to Z? How is justice served if, in response to A’s wrongful creation of tensions between B and C, X creates like tensions between Y and Z?

Although Beijing certainly does enable some Chinese individuals to prey upon other Chinese individuals, this reality does not make right that which is wrong – namely, Uncle Sam enabling some Americans to prey upon other Americans.

MP: Alternative titles include “Economic abuse never justifies economic abuse,” “legal plunder in Country A never justifies legal plunder in Country B,” “self-inflicted economic suicide in Country A never justifies self-inflicted economic suicide in Country B,” etc.

Related: We hear all the time from the Protectionist-in-Chief and his merry band of mercantilists that we’re losing on trade and getting killed/crushed/hosed/raped by our trading partners, largely because of “bad trade deals” and claims that our markets are open to the world, but bad foreigners close their markets to US exports. Our alleged, relative trade openness compared to China, the EU (a leading trade “foe” according to Trump) and other countries has motivated Team Trump’s recent protectionism to force other countries to lower their tariffs and non-tariff barriers to American products. Not so fast.

A 2015 report on globalization by Switzerland-based investment bank Credit Suisse, summarized here in Business Insider, identified the USA as one the most protectionist (“abusive”) nations in the world when all forms of protectionism are considered including both tariffs and non-tariff barriers. The chart below is from the Credit Suisse report (p. 20) and summarizes data from the independent protectionism-monitoring group Global Trade Alert and displays America’s global “leadership” in imposing trade protectionism. From the discussion in the Credit Suisse report:

Although the number of countries imposing nontariff barriers declined during the period of 1990-2013 (peaked in 2005), the total number of nontariff barriers imposed on trade in fact rose significantly—the USA leads here—making global trade not-so free after all.

Bottom Line: As much as we hear about America’s alleged open markets and other countries’ closed markets as the justification for our protectionism, the reality is much different according to the analysis of Credit Suisse, which documented in 2015 that the USA imposes significantly more protectionist measures than “bad” China, Japan and Europe, by multiple factors of three times and more.

You might be a protectionist…. - Publications – AEI

You might be a protectionist….
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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