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Hillary the Protectionist

Cato's David Boaz writes that Hillary has made the famous parable of the Candlemakers' Petition (asking to be protected against competition from the sun) a reality:

Last month, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and nine colleagues (ranging from Barbara Boxer to Tom Coburn) endorsed a petition from -- you guessed it -- the domestic candlemaking industry asking the secretary of commerce to impose a 108.3 percent tariff on Chinese candle producers.


But perhaps the comparison is unfair. After all, Clinton and the National Candle Association aren't asking for protection from the sun, only from Chinese candle producers who are allegedly "dumping" candles in to the American market "at less than fair value."

What's the difference, though? Any source that supplies light to American consumers is a competitor of the American candle industry. And any source that can deliver the light cheaper than American candle companies is a tough competitor. Domestic producers will no doubt gain by imposing a 100 percent tariff on their Chinese competitors. But they could also sell more candles if the government required "the closing of all windows, dormers, skylights, inside and outside shutters, curtains, casements, bull's-eyes, deadlights, and blinds -- in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures through which the light of the sun is wont to enter houses," as Bastiat's candlemakers requested.

In our modern world, the candlemakers might also propose that electric lights be banned. Think what that would do for the Syracuse candlemaking industry!

Of course, Hillary hardly needs to pander so hard to upstate New York to keep her job. Her likely Republican challenger, KT McFarland, is the one who said Hillary's helicopters were watching her house:

A freshman pol unused to getting shafted, she was recently pasted in the press for saying Mrs. Clinton was spying on her apartment via helicopter. She calls it a joke that went awry. She also says it nearly did her in. "I sat in a ratty old robe, tears spilling down my face. To ease my anguish, I killed off half a pint of ice cream. Next morning I was in a fetal position. Still crying. And my husband was traveling. Not even there to comfort me. It was a tough baptism."

There's no crying in politics, I've heard. Except if you're challenging Hillary for Senate this year. In that case, close the drapes, light a Syracuse-made candle, pop "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" into the DVD player, and weep like a colicky baby.