The Tariff ‘Protection’ Fallacy

Henry George ,

Protection or Free Trade

To every trade there must be two parties who mutually desire to trade, and whose actions are reciprocal. No one can buy unless he can find someone willing to sell; and no one can sell unless there is some other one willing to buy. If Americans did not want to buy foreign goods, foreign goods could not be sold here even if there were no tariff. The efficient cause of the trade which our tariff aims to prevent is the desire of Americans to buy foreign goods, not the desire of foreign producers to sell them. Thus protection really prevents what the “protected” themselves want to do. It is not from foreigners that protection preserves and defends us; it is from ourselves.

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