Between you and the Belgians, therefore, there is just about the same difference as between a dull and sharp axe.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Sophisms Second Series

The principle according to which international trade and innovation are the same in their economic consequences is explained here once again. What Bastiat shows us is that industries that are not subject to international competition are subject to competition nonetheless and that it is thanks to innovation that some are more competitive than others.

In order to illustrate this, he uses a negative image (instead of praising the sharp axe in order to increase his competitiveness, Jacques Bonhomme advocates the dull axe in order to reduce competition), which allows to insist on the absurdity of the reasoning, which is a preposterous allegory of the protectionnists’ reasoning.

It is interesting to note that Jacques Bonhomme is here talking to Minister Laurent Cunin-Gridaine who shamelessly implemented tariffs favouring his own looms, which reminds us of Wilbur Ross and tariffs on steel in the United-States under the presidency of Donald Trump.

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