Tariffs, pickpockets, and the nationalist snake in the moral grass

Source: Independent Institute
by Robert Higgs

"Protectionism, as it is misleadingly known, has always been an insider's game, a political gambit aimed at enriching those to whom the government is especially beholden or seeks to seduce at the expense of other people. Incumbent producers who produce products on which tariffs are imposed succeed in repelling competition by force of the government's customs officers, which is to say that they succeed in increasing their profits by force, not by offering consumers a better deal. Peaceful people who avoid the tariff by importing goods surreptitously are not only stigmatized as smugglers, but subjected to criminal sanctions as if they had committed real crimes such as rape or assault and battery. In this way the government not only discourages free trade, but misleads citizens in general into thinking of free trade as a criminal enterprise. What could better serve the interest of an organization — the state itself — that cannot exist except by extortion and robbery?" (02/13/17)