What Does Protectionism Protect?

From the Civitas Institute:

Imagine yourself cut off from the rest of society. Not from all social interactions, however, just from all economic exchanges. No more going to the grocery store for food, or trips to Home Depot for home repair supplies, or –gasp!—no cell phones available for purchase.

Total self-sufficiency. You grow your own food, build your own shelter, make your own clothes and create your own cell phone, laptop and flat screen TV. And remember, you can’t buy or otherwise trade for any of the inputs to make these items. You have to create them all yourself, using only the inputs you can find and figure out how to transform into something useful.

Good luck.

Pretty miserable existence, right? But the notion of self-sufficiency is one of the foremost arguments used by proponents of crony protectionist policies to limit free international trade.

“If we limited trade and made everything we need here in the U.S, think of all the jobs that would create!” goes the mantra.

They believe economic isolationism is the pathway to jobs and economic growth.

But is it?

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