Questions for Protectionists
To aid those who are not enamored with protectionism to better understand protectionism, advocates of protectionism need to justify protectionism by answering the following questions.
Since when did free trade require unaccountable international agencies like NAFTA and WTO to manage it?
Since when did free trade require one mandatory international codex after another to make it fair trade?
Since when did free trade require subsidizing domestic companies to build factories in other countries as the United States have been doing for decades?
Why do many protectionists claim that the U.S. Constitution authorizes, even commands, Congress to restrict and prevent imports? Where does the U.S. Constitution authorize or demand protectionism? Isn’t the power delegated to Congress to levy tariffs (duties) on imports for the purpose of raising income instead of protectionism? Isn’t it true that the more effective tariffs are at preventing imports, the less revenue they raise; and when tariffs are 100 percent effective at preventing imports, they raise no revenue? If not, why?
If protectionism, i.e., restrictions on trade, are beneficial, why did the American colonists object to the trade restrictions imposed by the British government? Why did they not demand more trade restrictions?
Was Lincoln’s protective tariffs worth the 600,000 lives lost to impose it? Why?
When one country trades another county I.O.U. nothings that can be repudiated any moment for useful tangible products, such as steel, computers, or televisions, who has received the greater value and who has the advantage?
If protectionism creates wealth, why not make the United States 50 times wealthier by creating 50 autarkic States?
If trade barriers at a country’s borders are desirable, shouldn’t internal trade barriers also be desirable? If not, why? Why the inconsistency?
Why is the scarceness of goods that results from protectionism better than an abundance of goods?
How does a country benefit from having less? For example, without protectionism, a worker can exchange a day of labor for one domestically manufactured pair of shoes or two foreign manufactured pairs of shoes. Protectionism prevents him from buying the foreign shoes. How does he benefit from having one pair fewer shoes? How does the country benefit from having one pair fewer shoes?
Why should people be forced to work longer for the same quantity of goods, which is what protectionism does?
Why are high prices, which is the result of protectionism, preferable to low prices? Why do retirees and others on fixed income benefit more from high prices than from low prices as they must under protectionism? Is this just and why?
As the objective of protectionism is to keep prices high, shouldn’t the government do all that it can to stifle and even prohibit innovations that drive prices down? If not, why? Why the inconsistency?
Why is "doing less with more," which is the outcome of protectionism, more desirable than "doing more with less," which is the natural inclination of mankind? Is not the objective of protectionism to direct resources from their most efficient use, "doing more with less," to less efficient use, "doing less with more"? If this is not protectionism objective, why is this the outcome of protectionism?
If a protectionist is going to be consistent, shouldn’t he seek to maximize his cost, labor, effort, and inefficiencies in his personal endeavors, which is what protectionism seeks to do for the country as a whole? If not, why? Why the inconsistency?
Why should consumers be forced, ultimately under the penalty of death, to buy overpriced and often inferior products, which is what protectionism does?
Why should the government arbitrarily pick winners and losers in economic activities, which is what it does with protectionism?
Why should the government (politics) decide what the people are to buy as it does with protectionism, instead of letting the people themselves (economics) decide what to buy?
Is transferring wealth from the politically weak to the politically powerful, which is what protectionism does, just and desirable? Why?
Why should the interest of producers be placed above the interest of consumers, which is what protectionism does?
Economically, what is the difference between restricting the importation of iron and steel to benefit iron and steel producers and restricting sanitation to benefit hospitals, doctors, drug manufacturers, and undertakers?
Why should consumers be treated as though they are the property of producers and their politicians, which is what protectionism does?
Why are voluntary exchanges undesirable and in need of prohibition?
Why should freedom of exchange be allowed for some products but prohibited for others?
Why do protectionists consider that which is good for an individual, a family, a county, and a State to be an evil for the country? If not, shouldn’t they be advocating trade restrictions between families, counties, and States? If not, why? Why the inconsistency?
Which is more important: the amount that a worker is paid, which is the focus of protectionism, or the amount that a worker can buy with his pay?
As protectionism prevents workers from exchanging their labor for the largest quantity of goods and services possible, how can protectionism be just? Is requiring workers to pay artificially higher prices, which protectionism causes, just, desirable, and beneficial to workers? Why?
Does a worker’s pay depend on the supply of and the demand for labor or on the prices of goods?
Why is erecting obstacles to the movement of goods, which is what protectionism does, much more desirable than diminishing and eliminating obstacles? If the erection of barriers to the movement of goods is desirable, shouldn’t the government do all that it can to erect obstacles to the movement of goods everywhere? If not, why? Why the inconsistency?
Why should the government expend resources to remove natural barriers to trade such as building new roads and bridges while it is erecting artificial barriers such as protective tariffs? As the objective of protectionism is to prevent trade, why expend resources to improve trade?
What is the difference between reducing the supply of food with protectionism and reducing the supply of food by plowing under crops? If a protectionist believes that food should not be restricted, he needs to explain his bigotry against farmers and why farmers should be forced to pay higher prices for his supplies from protected industries.
If a farmer in Maine decides to grow coffee, shouldn’t Congress erect trade barriers to protect this new domestic industry from foreign imports? If not, why? Are some industries more worthy of protection than others? If so, why? Who decides, how do they decide, and why?
If the importation of products from Montreal is so injurious to the Chicago that they must be stopped or at least greatly restricted, as protectionism demands, wouldn’t the importation of products from New Orleans also be injurious to Chicago? Shouldn’t importations from New Orleans also be stopped or restricted? If not, why? Why the inconsistency?
If, for example, tool manufacturers in Texas need protection from tool manufacturers in Brazil because Brazil subsidies its tool manufacturers, do tool manufacturers in Texas need protection from tool manufacturers in New York because New York subsidies its tool manufacturers? If not, why? Why the inconsistency? From the perspective of tool manufacturers in Texas what is the difference?
As exporting countries give gifts to importing countries when they subsidize their exports, why should such gifts be prohibited or taxed away? Doesn’t consistency demand prohibiting or taxing away all gifts including Christmas gifts and birthday gifts? If not, why? Why the inconsistency? Do not Christmas and birthday gifts reduce the productivity of the recipient by relieving the recipient of the need to work longer to acquire the gifts?
If protectionism is used to equalize the prices of foreign produced articles with domestically produced articles (this is a favorite argument of protectionists), shouldn’t the government require producers and sellers to sell all similar articles at the same price, preferably at the price of the highest producer or seller? If not, why? Why allow the inconsistency? Why should a competitive advantage be allowed in one case and not in the other?
If the country places restrictions in importation of goods to "equalize" the cost of regulations, taxes, labor, etc. shouldn’t States with high costs because of regulations, taxes, labor, etc. be allowed to restrict imports from States with lower costs? If they shouldn’t, why? Why the inconsistency?
If protectionism is needed to protect domestic workers from lower-waged foreign workers in another country, why isn’t protectionism need to protect domestic workers in a State from lower-wage workers in other States? Doesn’t consistency demand protection in both situations? If not, why? Why the inconsistency?
If protectionism is needed to protect domestic workers from foreign workers, aren’t laws needed to protect workers from machines (mechanical labor) by forbidding labor saving machines? If not, why? Why the inconsistency?
If high-wage countries need protectionism to protect themselves from low-wage countries, why do low-wage countries enact protectionism to protect themselves from high-wage countries? Conversely, if low-wage countries need protectionism to protect themselves from high-wage countries, why do high-wage countries enact protectionism to protect themselves from low-wage countries?
If protectionism stimulates industry and promotes prosperity, shouldn’t communities that are the most isolated show the greatest advancements, progress, growth and prosperity? Why do they not?
If protectionism strengthens a country, why do countries, when they go to war, seek to prevent their enemies from importing goods? If protection strengthens a country, blockades, the ultimate form of protectionism, should make an enemy unbeatable shouldn’t they? If not, why? Does protectionism strengthen in one case, and in the other it weakens? If so, why ? Why the inconsistency?
If free trade weakens a country, when countries go to war shouldn’t they use their navies to open the enemy’s ports and dump goods there. Shouldn’t they use their air force to drop goods instead of bombs? As free trade, especially dumping goods below cost, destroys a country, shouldn’t dumping free goods bring down a country quicker and safer than the instruments of war? If not, why? Does free trade weaken a country in one case, and in the other it does not? If so, why? Why the inconsistency?
When has authoritarian political control of the economy, which is what protectionism is, ever been superior to freedom?
As protectionism is the heart of mercantilism, why do protectionists insist on continuing the antiquated and archaic mercantile system that all economists of merit have denounced for 200 years?
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