It is better to provide for oneself surrounded by prosperous customers than to be protected surrounded by impoverished ones.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Sophisms Second Series

Historically, the term “protectionism” was limited to restrictions of international trade, be it through tariffs, quotas on imports and exports or whatever repressive idea could flow through the minds of our political leaders. However, what is interesting is that “protectionism”, “protection” and “to protect” are words that have a larger meaning but also apply to other constraints.

Thus, the quote from Bastiat that can be found within a protectionist environment as we usually understand it (whereby international trade is restricted) is also applicable to the French economic situation in this early 21st century whereby a large number of trade barriers at the border have been largely reduced while the country is suffering from a more insidious protectionism that is not as obvious. There, the government keeps on setting up “protections” for the inhabitants of the country (financial regulation, workplace legislation, healthcare access, etc…) but as all these wonderful things need to be paid for, all businesspeople are surrounded by impoverished customers and some believe that this country is doomed (link to blog in French only).

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