Protectionism is Always Bitter

2 Sep

CNN further demonstrates how far they’ve fallen with a slew of B-movie puns (no pun intended).

The issue is honey laundering. Chinese honey producers ship their honey to producers in another country who then ship it to the United States, tariff and duty-free. That sentence should be a quick lesson in the law of unintended consequences. Here is more on the nature of honey laundering:

Earlier today, eleven executives and four foreign companies have been indicted by several US federal agencies. It is frequently claimed that the antibiotics in the Chinese honey are deadly to a small percentage of the population. But we are never told how many people might suffer from this allergic reaction. (Should we ban everything that people might die from because of allergies?) It’s also claimed the Chinese are dumping their honey on us. The evidence? There is lots of Chinese honey coming into US markets and at a lower price than domestic honey producers. Lower prices, of course, do not constitute “dumping.” Otherwise, we would need to ban all of competition (indeed, if you follow the logic, it would only be by increasing prices that we make ourselves richer).

The honey producers asking for protection don’t care about public safety. If they did, they would advocate the removal of the tariffs and anti-dumping legislation. It would eliminate the necessity of relabeling by foreign producers; Chinese honey manufacturers would then seek to build a better brand name. It’s difficult to make profits if you produce honey that kills people. Moreover, it is the competitive forces of markets and the entrepreneurship of individuals that we can rely on for better, cleaner, and safer products – not the protection and institutionalization of industries.

Perhaps the worst feature of this is that it illustrates the difference between the market and governments so well. Under the market, I vote with my dollars to say “I don’t support your protectionist, lobbying activities.” They lose profits. Under the political system, the exact people I don’t want to have my money go to the government (because they are losing my customership) to strangle competition. We can tell that political decisions are bad because they have to be forced onto people.

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One Response to “Protectionism is Always Bitter”

  1. Brent Butgereit September 2, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    As a further note, I hope the pun production in the CNN piece helps to undermine the position of the honey protectionists as much as it undermined my respect for CNN.

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