Nothing but Legalized Theft

“Trade is not invasion. It does not involve aggression on one side and resistance on the other, but mutual consent and gratification.” — Henry George, Protection or Free Trade, 1886

So-called protectionism is, in effect, nothing but legalized theft. The loot from the tariff revenues goes into the hands of government officials, and the income from artificially stimulated demand for domestically produced goods goes into the coffers of crony capitalists. Protectionism is a melee of de facto larceny.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.