In his 1845 book, Economic Sophisms, Frederic Bastiat, noted French economist, statesman and a champion of free markets ridicules protectionism using wit, irony, satire, dialogs and apologue to illustrate the absurdity of “erroneous ideas” [Frederic 1996]. One such illustration is a petition filed by an industry association to the French legislature seeking their assistance in warding off competition. Excerpts follow:
To the Honorable Members of the Chamber of Deputies Gentlemen,
We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a foreign rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at
an incredibly low price, for, the moment he appears, our sales cease, all the consumers turn to him and a branch of French industry whose ramifications are innumerable is all at once reduced to complete stagnation.
This rival…is waging a war on us…mercilessly. We ask you to be so good as to pass a law requiring the closing of all windows, skylights, inside and outside shutters, curtains …and blinds – in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures through which the light …enters the houses, to the detriment of the fair industries with which, we are proud to say, we have endowed the country, a country that cannot, without betraying ingratitude, abandon us today in so unequal a combat…
The petitioner: manufacturers of candles, lanterns, candlesticks, street lamp.
As the reader might have guessed by now, the competitor: the sun.
You can read more of this long article on EPW