Steven Landsburg: The Immorality of Protectionism

If you support protectionism [in general, not just in your industry] because you think it’s good for you, you’ve probably just got your economics wrong. But if you support protectionism because you think it’s good for your fellow Americans, at the expense of foreigners, then it seems to me you’ve got your morals wrong too.

…if it’s okay to enrich ourselves by denying foreigners the right to earn a living, why shouldn’t we enrich ourselves by invading peaceful countries and seizing their assets? Most of us don’t think that’s a good idea, and not just because it might backfire. We don’t think it’s a good idea because we believe human beings have human rights, whatever their color and wherever they live. Stealing assets is wrong, and so is stealing the right to earn a living, no matter where the victim was born.