Don Boudreaux has a correspondent insisting that because Wilbur Ross is a successful businessman, the Good Professor is only a pointy head in an ivory tower, therefore we should believe Ross against Boudreaux on the subject of trade tariffs. This is the wrong way around.
Precisely because of the successful businessman and pointy head bit we should believe the view from the ivory tower.
Of all the countless fallacious arguments for protectionism, none is more illogical than the one that you offer in your e-mail today – namely, that because “Secretary Wilbur Ross is a successful businessman his understanding of trade [is] rich and reliable” while my and other “ivory tower professors’” understanding of trade “is shallow, not very trustworthy.”
A useful real world test - even if edging up to the lip of a logical fallacy - is to ask cui bono? As one of us put it elsewhere recently:
A protectionist is someone who argues that you should be poorer so they can be richer.
The people who become richer through protectionism are the people who own the businesses being protected. We're going to take the opinion of a man made rich in the steel industry about the desirability of steel import tariffs?
Professor Boudreaux is of course far too polite to get to the lip of that ad hominem logical fallacy but we're not.