Arguing with protectionists feels, to any good economist, much like the following:
Protectionist: Two plus two equals twenty-two!
Good economist: What? No. Two plus two equals four.
Protectionist: Yeah, well, two plus three equal twenty-three! See, what could be more plain? A 2 next to a 3 makes 23!
Good economist: That’s not how addition works. In reality, two plus three equal five.
Protectionist: I don’t see a five when I look at a two and a three! And I see no four when I look at two twos. Your “theory” shows only that you’re an academic and ivory-tower egghead who doesn’t understand reality.
Good economist: Say what you will, but two plus two equals four, and two plus three equals five.
Protectionist: Uh-uh. Two plus two equals twenty-two. And two plus three equals twenty-three. And ten plus twelve equals one-thousand and twelve. Nothing you can say will change my mind.
Good economist: Well, you’re correct about my – or anyone’s – prospects of changing your mind.