Student Of Liberty

10. – THE SPANISH ASSOCIATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT AND THE BIDASSOA BRIDGE.

One of the characteristics of truth is universality.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Sophisms Third Series

Since 1522 when the Victoria sailed back to Sevilla, we know that men stand upright on the other side of the planet. Truths in economics are not always easy to demonstrate but reduction ad absurdum allows to demonstrate some of the mistakes.

It is with relative ease that Bastiat demonstrates the absurdity of mercantile protectionism because its advocates contradict themselves as soon as they cross a border, and when they organise themselves in an association, they praise free-trade associations in other countries rather than foreign protectionnist associations, the ideas of whom are clashing with their own. I really like the image of the ship in the middle of the sea and the impossibility there is to qualify its cargo – is it exports or imports? The issue facing the protectionnists comes from the fact that they want to favour exports and limit imports, which is equivalent to give without receiving and lacks the function of exchange underlying any trade, even international trade.

The border concept that has no meaning whatsoever in economics is addressed with a short story in the Basque Country where the Bidassoa River marks the border between France and Spain. There, nationalist arguments cannot hit the chord of reason and economic arguments do not help in convincing that restrictions on trade are beneficial.

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