Student Of Liberty

XX. – HUMAN LABOR AND DOMESTIC LABOR.

And truly, there is some pleasure in facing intrepid debaters who, even when they are wrong, take their line of reasoning to its limit.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Sophisms First Series

This mocking remark pertains to the analogy between imports and technological progress. If Mr. de Saint-Chamans recognises that both have the same effect, he deplores both while most protectionnists are inconsistent, not giving themselves to the mockery of denigrating technological progress.

The economist David Friedman presented San Francisco harbour as the machine that turns corn into cars –  containers full of corn enter the harbour to be sent to the other side of the Pacific Ocean and Japanese cars come out of it. Bastiat expressed it differently but understood the phenomenon for sure.

This pamphlet is also interesting because it shows the difference between the microeconomic and approach to labour and the macroeconomic consequences of it (if a protection is cancelled, displacing jobs is painful from a microeconomic point of view for those who lose their job (human labor) but the macroeconomic effect is beneficial because the level of jobs (domestic labour) is not reduced and production increases).

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