George Will, though a defender of the welfare state, at least understands why protectionism is wrongheaded:

[T]he prize for the pithiest nonsense went to Hastert: “An economy suffers when jobs disappear.”

So the economy suffered when automobiles caused the disappearance of the jobs of most blacksmiths, buggy makers, operators of livery stables, etc.? The economy did not seem to be suffering in 1999, when 33 million jobs were wiped out–by an economic dynamism that created 35.7 million jobs. How many of the 4,500 U.S jobs that IBM is planning to create this year will be made possible by sending 3,000 jobs overseas?

Hastert’s ideal economy, where jobs do not disappear, existed almost everywhere for almost everyone through almost all of human history. In, say, 12th-century France, the ox behind which a man plowed a field changed, but otherwise the plowman was doing what generations of his ancestors had done and what generations of his descendants would do….

The disappearance of whole categories of jobs can be desirable for reasons other than economic rationality…. John L. Lewis, the firebreathing leader of the United Mine Workers of America from 1920 to 1960, once said that he hoped to see the day when no man would make his living by going underground.

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