A Series of Questions for Protectionists

Channel: 
Cafe Hayek
Date: 
12/11/2017 - 9:58am

(Don Boudreaux)

TweetBob has for years chosen to buy beer from Augie.  One day, Bob chooses to give up drinking alcoholic beverages.  As a result, Bob stops buying beer from Augie.  Augie’s reduced sales cause him to lay some workers off.  Many of these workers have worked for decades in Augie’s brewery and have skills that are not easily transferred to other employers.
Should Bob be prevented from giving up drinking alcoholic beverages?  Or, at least, should Bob be punitively taxed for giving up drinking alcoholic beverages?  If so, why?
….
Bob has for years chosen to buy beer from Augie.  One day, Bob invents a machine for making beer in his garage.  This machine allows Bob to brew higher-quality beer at half the cost he incurs to buy beer from Augie.  As a result, Bob stops buying beer from Augie.  Augie’s reduced sales cause him to lay some workers off.  Many of these workers have worked for decades in Augie’s brewery and have skills that are not easily transferred to other employers.
Should Bob be prevented from brewing his own beer?  Or, at least, should Bob be punitively taxed for brewing his own beer?  If so, why?
….
Bob has for years chosen to buy beer from Augie.  One day, Bob’s next-door neighbor Betty invents a machine for making beer in her garage.  This machine allows Betty to brew higher-quality beer at sell that beer profitably to Bob at half the price that Bob pays to buy beer from Augie.  As a result, Bob stops buying beer from Augie.  Augie’s reduced sales cause him to lay some workers off.  Many of these workers have worked for decades in Augie’s brewery and have skills that are not easily transferred to other employers.
Should Bob be prevented from buying Betty’s beer?  Or, at least, should Bob be punitively taxed for buying Betty’s beer?  If so, why?
….
Bob has for years chosen to buy beer from Augie.  One day, Bob’s next-door neighbor Betty invents a machine for making beer in her garage.  This machine allows Betty to brew beer of the same quality as Augie’s beer.  But Betty’s cost of brewing this beer is actually higher than Augie’s cost.  But Betty is very fond of Bob and so agrees, even though doing so will impose a cost on her, to sell to Bob her beer at a price that is half the price that Bob pays to buy beer from Augie.  As a result, Bob stops buying beer from Augie.  Augie’s reduced sales cause him to lay some workers off.  Many of these workers have worked for decades in Augie’s brewery and have skills that are not easily transferred to other employers.
Should Bob be prevented from buying Betty’s beer?  Or, at least, should Bob be punitively taxed for buying Betty’s beer?  If so, why?
….
Bob has for years chosen to buy beer from Augie.  One day, Bert, a Belgian, invents, using his own private funds, a new machine for transporting beer across the Atlantic – a machine that dramatically cuts the costs of transporting beer over such a long distance.  This machine allows Bert to profitably sell good-quality beer to Bob at half the price that Bob pays to buy beer from Augie.  As a result, Bob stops buying beer from Augie.  Augie’s reduced sales cause him to lay some workers off.  Many of these workers have worked for decades in Augie’s brewery and have skills that are not easily transferred to other employers.
Should Bob be prevented from buying Bert’s beer?  Or, at least, should Bob be punitively taxed for buying Bert’s beer?  If so, why?
….
Bob has for years chosen to buy beer from Augie.  One day, Bert, a Belgian, invents, using Belgian-government money, a new machine for transporting beer across the Atlantic – a machine that dramatically cuts the costs of transporting beer over such a long distance.  This machine allows Bert to profitably sell good-quality beer to Bob at half the price that Bob pays to buy beer from Augie.  As a result, Bob stops buying beer from Augie.  Augie’s reduced sales cause him to lay some workers off.  Many of these workers have worked for decades in Augie’s brewery and have skills that are not easily transferred to other employers.
Should Bob be prevented from buying Bert’s beer?  Or, at least, should Bob be punitively taxed for buying Bert’s beer?  If so, why?

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