By Chris Rossini
During last night's Republican Presidential "Debate," Donald Trump had the privilege of making the final closing statement. He chose to say just a few sentences, and they were laced with protectionism.
Protectionism is a policy that restricts trade in order to protect American industry from foreign competitors. It is the anti-thesis of free and voluntary trade.
Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t win anymore.
First of all, trade is not a zero-sum game. You don't "beat" someone by trading with them, nor do they "beat" you. When a trade occurs, it signifies that both parties to the exchange are better off than before the trade took place.
As long as the trade is free and voluntary, there are no losers. Only when government coercion and force are introduced does the dynamic of a zero-sum game come into play. If government forces you to purchase a company's product or service, and you have no way of declining, then you "lose". If you were free to do so, you would have made a different, and more beneficial decision for yourself.
If the U.S. government slaps a tariff on a foreign-made product, you also "lose" because they are forcing you to pay the tax (which generates revenue for the government) and you cannot use that money to satisfy other wants and desires that you may have.
Government force turns trade into a zero-sum game, and unfortunately Trump shows no interest in reducing government's role in making it so. In fact, he wants to turn up the heat even further. Americans are satisfying their wants by purchasing "millions and millions of cars" from Japan, and Trump wants to put an end to it. This type of thinking shows that Trump needs a crash course on the concept of "comparative advantage". Murray Rothbard did the heavy lifting for Trump right here.
Protectionist policies are a destroyer of prosperity. Ludwig Von Mises summed it up perfectly when he wrote:
“Nationalist policies, which always begin by aiming at the ruination of one’s neighbors, must, in the final analysis, lead to the ruination of all.”