Time and again Bastiat spoke out against tariffs and subsidies, reminding the public of a third, unseen person – the consumer – who is affected by subsidies and tariffs. Where the one benefiting from the subsidies or tariffs would tout all the jobs provided by the protection, Bastiat was quick to show that the consumer who funds the subsidy or pays the higher, tariff supported prices has less money to spend on goods in other non-protected or non-subsidized industries. He demonstrates that at their core subsidies and tariffs are nothing short of theft, they are robbery backed by the force of law.
One such industry that has been robbing consumers for years this way is the sugarcane and sugar beet industry in the U.S. Dr. Mark J. Perry of CARPE DIEM reports in Annual Cost Per Sugar Farm Job Saved = $826,000 that for every one job “saved” in the sugar growing industry three are lost at a cost of $826,000, totaling $1.9 billion a year. Echoing Bastiat, Perry concludes in Sugar Tariffs Cost Americans $2.5 Billion in 2009:
Like all protection, sugar tariffs exist to protect an inefficient domestic industry (sugar beet farmers) from more efficient foreign producers (cane sugar farmers), and come at the expense of the U.S. consumers and the American companies using sugar as an input, and make our country worse off, on net.
And don’t forget the interest the corn lobby has in promoting higher sugar prices too.