Why is protectionism so popular all of a sudden?

Maybe this is too obvious to need saying, but I haven’t seen it written down:

The sudden surge in the political popularity of protectionism isn’t an inevitable or permanent result of the equally inevitable shift of manufacturing activity to China and India. It’s mostly a side-effect of an extremely weak labor market here. If unemployment falls enough to start moving real average wages up, much of the animus against China will fade.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com