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Protectionism in a nutshell

Seen today on Facebook:

In olden times, armies would lay siege to cities to cut them off from outside trade. The strategy forced the city to “buy local” until it was so prosperous that everyone was too rich and lazy to fight.

— Rocco Stanzione

21 comments to Protectionism in a nutshell

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Seen on Facebook in a subsequent thread: “Haven’t we spent several decades trying to bolster Cuba’s domestic manufacturing industry by protecting them from US competition?”

  • JohnW

    Reminds me of Galt’s speech 6.00 secs.

    There is a difference between our strike and all those you’ve practiced for centuries: our strike consists, not of making demands, but of granting them. We are evil, according to your morality. We have chosen not to harm you any longer. We are useless, according to your economics. We have chosen not to exploit you any longer. We are dangerous and to be shackled, according to your politics. We have chosen not to endanger you, nor to wear the shackles any longer. We are only an illusion, according to your philosophy. We have chosen not to blind you any longer and have left you free to face reality — the reality you wanted, the world as you see it now, a world without mind.

  • The flip side is, if you buy local, it is extremely hard for these governments to get all their damn taxes. If you buy from halfway across the planet, you prop up a half dozen governments. I think we are kind of autistic on this one. When leftist start trying to produce locally, they start thinking in a more libertarian manner. And, governments tend to get less money.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    August: I see no reason to view any of those claims as correct. I have yet to see leftists “start thinking in a more libertarian manner” when they “start trying to produce locally”. I also fail to see how this generates less revenue for the state — income, sales, VAT and similar taxes are all collected on locally produced as well as foreign produced goods.

  • Mr Ed

    I can never seem to find English oranges and bananas, no matter how hard I try. Mind you, I’ve never seen an Irish restaurant anywhere in the world I’ve been, not even Tindouf. Some things are exports, others aren’t.

    What is New York’s balance of trade with Cincinnati? Has anyone ever checked? Has anyone ever counted?

    Remember the Lefty memes:

    Sanctions on Cuba make it poor.

    Free trade with Haiti makes it poor.

  • Laird

    Well, unless that comment was intended as sarcasm it’s one of the more ignorant things I’ve seen in a while.

  • Oh Laird, please tell me you are joking!!! Indeed who are you and what have you done with the real Laird?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr Ed,

    Say what you will about Skunk Cabbage City, but WE at least used to have TWO (at least) Irish restaurants! (“We” only for purposes of this discussion. I was a Citizen at the time.)

    (You could certainly get blood pudding in at least one of them, and Shepherd’s Pie. In fact in my part of the rural Midwest there were recipes for it, and it turned up on local tables reasonably frequently. Also Irish Stew. — It is true that Northern Illinois is, or was, bursting at the seams with families of Irish and of German descent, with a smaller but non-negligable contingent of Swedes. I’m getting O/T, apologies.)

    I am glad to see your last two sentences, which show that you are a world-class Econ Expert. (Or something.) :>))))

  • Mr Ed

    Julie, I am of 1/4 Mayo stock, but I have never made it over the Atlantic except to the eastern fringe of the Caribbean. At least I know now where I might find an Irish restaurant, I fear that I will find no advantage, comparative or not, in such a trip.

    What we do know is that actions speak louder than words here. Besiegers acknowledge the benefits of free trade by impeding it. Lefties implicitly acknowledge the benefits of free trade by seeking to demonise it, as they hate and fear its consequences, except for themselves.

  • Heaven knows George Monbiot of Guardian fame has grievous faults, but I give him credit for saying in public some years ago (can’t find a link, but trust me) that he was wrong to have supported the Green Party policy on drastically curtailing imports and exports. He said it suddenly came to him that the sanctions on Iraq that he was denouncing were exactly what the Green Party demanded for every country in the world!

  • rxc

    Producing everything locally is a silly concept. It is not even possible, unless you really want to limit severely your choice of goods because most foods and things cannot be grown or produced everywhere, because of local availability of raw materials, or because the food only grows in certain climates or with inputs that are not available everywhere.

    Also, if you think about it, what happens to your locally-grown food supply when you get some bad weather? Without trade or preservatives to stock up your locally-grown supplies, you starve to death. If everyone is “efficient” and only produces what is really “necessary”, then there will be no surpluses to store for hard times.

    Most places are not able to produce their own metals with materials at hand, so the act-local crowd are pushing a society without metals – that means no technology whatsoever, other than what can be produced from straw and twigs and sticks. Hunter-gatherers who pick berries and don’t use any agriculture at all. They tend to starve quickly unless they can move from place to place as they deplete the local food supplies.

    Just plain silly.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr Ed, alas–I cannot attest to the current existence of Irish restaurants in Chicago. It was probably 30 years ago that my husband and I last ate in one, and frankly, what with “trendy” and “fusion,” it’s hard to find reasonably authentic, traditional food from any ethnic cuisine. I mean, pizza with ham, pineapple and barbecue sauce? The Neapolitans are probably weeping gushers, when they’re not gorging themselves on the stuff.

    But if you have a taste for Irish stew, say, or barmbrack, or whatever, suggest you get it in Belfast. If I weren’t already here, I’d probably never have watermelon, fresh corn-on-the-cob, or Authentic Midwestern Fried Chicken* again, just because dealing with O’Hare would be enough to put anyone right off his feed.

    *Use your favorite chicken parts. Rinse under lukewarm water, shake the water off, dredge in flour mixed with a bit of salt (put the flour & salt in a paper back, drop in a piece of chicken, hold the bag closed with your hand while you shake it). Take out, put on a rack while you do the other pieces. There shouldn’t be lumps of loose flour, but the pieces might need to be coated twice.

    Heat enough lard to come halfway up the sides of the chicken pieces. Try for around 365˚F. Fry skin-side down about 8 minutes, turn, cover but leave a small space for steam to escape, cook maybe 20 minutes or so, turn over to re-crisp the skin side, 5-8 min. probably.

    Stick a knife or fork in close to the bone, from the underside, and if the juices run clear you’re done.

    No egg. No milk. No bread crumbs. No seasoning except a little salt. (Oh all right, a little black pepper if you must, but I won’t do it.) No batter. No ruddy water in the ruddy lard. (Or Crisco, if that’s what you’ve got and either you hate the smell of frying-lard or you’re still afraid of it.) Chicken, flour & salt, hot fat. Yum.

  • NickM

    I thought Crisco was only used for sodomy anyway 😉

    Other lubes are available.

    Seriously though this whole Huge Furnished Shittingstall* of “localism” is just pissing from a great height on millenia of progress. Trade is good. Dear Gods! The Phoenicians came here to buy tin from Cornwall. We wouldn’t have spices if it wasn’t for the East India Company. The East Indies wouldn’t have a massive spice trade without – well – trade. Trade is basic to the human condition. I was at the dentist yesterday. I build and fix computer systems. I dunno how good she is at that but I bet she’s better at re-fitting a crown which is why I’m a computer tech and she’s a dentist. It really is that simple. We have different skills. I made a salad nicoise for dinner last night. Do you think I grew the kalamata olives or caught the tuna in the local stream – in NE Cheshire? People since before writing have understood trade. “Hey Ugg, you’re pretty good at flint-knapping and me, Ogg can down a dear at fifty paces so if you make me some of your spearheads I’ll bring you a nice bit of venison. Deal?” I mean I have no fucking idea how to catch and process a tunny fish but I knw how to obtain money to pay folk that do.

    International trade is just that caveman exchange writ large because we have planes and phones and trucks and ships and all these terrible things. We even have the internet for money transfers and all the rest.

    From cowrie shells to Bitcoin it is all the same. We are deal-makers. We always have been. Christ Almighty there are experiments to show chimps understand basic economics!

    *He made a complete wankensteiner of himself of himself on the telly last night (a repeat on some channel or other) by introducing ducks to River Cottage to eat the slugs in an eco-friendly exercise in pest control. The ducks also ate his veg. This is why proper farmers don’t use them. He really is a truly varnished twat playing at being Tom Good except he has C4 rather than Jerry and Margo to dig his incompetent arse out of the slurry – sometimes literally.

  • When leftists start farming, they start noticing how the government tends to get in the way of production.
    This is because farming is a business. They stop looking at government as the savior and start looking at it as getting in the way.
    Indeed, the more environmentalist they are, the more likely they start getting libertarian. They notice stuff, like Obama appointing a Monsanto hack as head of this or that department, and how the laws and various departments get in the way of them doing stuff they think is environmentally beneficial. It doesn’t matter if you like their plans, or think that they are crazy, what matters is that they begin to drop out of political side of things and start producing things. Supposedly, the farmers are our farmer’s market don’t even have to pay sales tax, and I doubt on farm sales are taxed either. Of course, once their products hit the stores, you start paying sales tax on them.

    Incidentally, the way to get conservatives (in the U.S.) to become more libertarian is to get them into raw milk. It is illegal in my state, but it tastes better and keeps longer than what is legal, and the conservatives begin to notice this.

    For some unfortunate reason, these people are not people who respond well to logical arguments. If so, they’d already be mostly libertarian and understand basic economics. To them, the local thing is a morality in their belief system, and as it becomes more important in their minds, the importance of government erodes. What do they actually need? A free market. Stop subsidizing. Let the market sort out how local things should be rather than pointing to something over-regulated and subsidized and saying that is the free market. No it isn’t, and if you have lefties tending to chickens rather than protesting or trying to shove another round of legislation down our throat, the world is a better place.

  • It occurred to me there is a book: Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front
    by Joel Salatin.

    There it is in the title- he figured out the state has made most of what he wants to do illegal. Since he believes in ‘local’ he believes what he wants to do is moral, and thus he perceives the state as interfering. A good step.

  • john

    In some cases there’s a kind of false dichotomy in play. Sure complete localism is foolish / impossible, and trade is beneficial… but you can’t trade if you don’t produce anything. Furthermore, if you produce only one thing, you are exposed to the failure of that one thing.

  • Chester Draws

    if you produce only one thing, you are exposed to the failure of that one thing.

    But that’s a false dichotomy too. It’s not “produce one thing” or “produce everything” — there is a sensible middle ground.

    What you shouldn’t do is produce something badly, just so that it is “local”.

  • Nicholas (Rule Yourselves!) Gray

    Won’t 3D printing enable everything to be made locally? Not as cheaply, but possible?

  • john

    Chester Draws:

    Yes, agreed. Exactly the point I was trying to make, perhaps not as clearly as I could have.

    I guess I could have phrased it something like: It is a false dichotomy to assume that either everything or nothing must me produced locally. For all practical purposes producing one (or some small number which I admit I can’t define) thing is the almost as bad as producing nothing. It’s kind of like the Laffer curve, both ends are zero, the question is “what’s the shape of the curve”?

  • Paul Marks

    There are indeed Irish eating places.

    Pile stuff up and fry it.

    There you are – Irish cuisine.

    And has its function.

    Dig ditches in the rain for 12 hours a day.

    What sort of food do you need for big lads to do that? And do it year-after-year.

    Well you pile up food (animal products if you can) and fry it.

    There you go – the “Ulster Fry”.

    Or the “heart attack [or stroke] on a plate”.

    P.S. do not try living of arable farming in climate where it rains all the time.

    You will starve to death doing that – crop failures.

    Raise cattle.

    They can eat grass – you can not.

    It is quite rational really.

    “But what about the booze Paul”.

    Shut up.

    Now having explained one half of heritage – although my Unionist ancestors were Roman Catholics – and from the South (now that would confuse a lot of people).

    I will now honour the other half of my heritage – by continuing to watch “Cast A Giant Shadow” on TCM.

    Two such odd blood lines – it is a wonder I am sane.

  • Jonathan Bagley

    A society consisting of just two neighbouring towns. One produces only Bananas, the other only Apples. Currently town B buys apples from A; and A, bananas from B; bartered one for one. A decides to consume only apples, so has none available for barter; so B is forced to consume only bananas. Net result – boring diet.