An Odd Tic
MD: I really don’t have much to add to embrace the concept being discussed here. It is right on. Anyone who has read the Federalist Papers and particularly the Anti-Federalist papers will know the Federalists had two principle reasons for forming a union: (1) To use the union to bully the merchant’s competition. (2) To use the union to protect the merchant’s practices. It was all about what was good for the merchants … not for the people. They only thing they needed the people for was to pay for it.
Government is “never” the solution to such issues. Governments create the problem in the first place and government applied to the solution just exacerbates the problem … and leads to wars.
One of oddest tics exhibited by protectionists who otherwise have pro-free-market sympathies is to insist that the government of their country (say, the United States) use punitive tariffs and other trade restrictions in order to countervail the market-distorting effects of the policies of foreign governments. There are many problems with this specific argument for protectionism (again, not least that, in practice, it is aimed only at those policies of foreign governments that are believed to artificially lower the prices of those countries’ exports; it is never aimed at those policies of foreign governments that make the prices of those countries’ exports higher).
But here I note only that it is especially odd for people who allegedly understand and celebrate the virtues of free markets to justify protectionist restrictions on the grounds that these restrictions will allegedly countervail or “adjust for” whatever market distortions are (or are asserted to be) unleashed by the economic interventions of foreign governments. It is odd because these particular protectionists – in the U.S., many conservatives – generally distrust their government to act wisely, prudently, skillfully, knowledgeably, and apolitically when meddling in the economy. And yet as soon as the stated particular reason for intervention is foreign-government misdeeds that allegedly distort the American market, these free-market types – these free-market conservatives – lose all of their skepticism of their own governments’ abilities to intervene wisely, prudently, skillfully, knowledgeably, and apoloticially.