If free trade is so good, why is protectionism so popular? Part of the answer lies in a simple political principle – interests that are concentrated (those of the producer) are more politically effective than interests that are diffuse (those of the consumer). Protection does not create jobs or move goods; rather, it forces us to expend greater effort to get the goods we produce, since they cost more to produce at home than abroad. The balance of payments can take care of itself, provided we do not manipulate foreign exchange markets to put an artificial value on the dollar. The right solution is to dismantle systematically our own trade barriers and set an example for the rest of the world.
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