Monday, October 17, 2011

Free Trade Ain't Free

While "[a]llowing exchange of goods and services across national boundaries appears innocuous enough, permitting all regions of the world to benefit from doing what they do best," David S. D'Amato reminds us that "the economic principle enshrined in free trade treaties is the preservation of corporate privilege, not the liberation of commerce" — The New “Mercantile System”.

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Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

I am liking your newfound skepticism of free trade. You'll come 'round to joining the Buchanan Brigades yet. I've been onboard since 1992!

October 18, 2011 at 1:53 AM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

And, of course, free trade isn't really free in another sense. It can only exist when big government pushes it. The natural forces of the marketplace push towards localism -- this is one of the insights that the Distributists have noted, and one that libertarians should be acknowledging (if they didn't spend so much of their energy mocking Distributism).

Free trade has an inexorable and inevitable link to the state -- and to an imperial state at that.

When looked at in that way, Buchanan's political philosophy -- against big government, against free trade, against the Empire -- all makes sense. And as he demonstrates in his books, it has been the traditional view of the conservative wing of American politics since the Founding, rightly understood (i.e., the Hamiltonian-Lincolnian-Coolidge-Taft current in American politics).

Come on in! The water is fine...

October 18, 2011 at 1:57 AM  
Blogger Iosue Andreas Sartorius said...

The linked to critique was a libertarian one. Paleolibertarians have long pointed out that the FTA's supported by "Beltway libertarians" are just another example of big government collusion with big business.

Distributivists and others fail to see the differences between the two varieties of libertarian. This is as disappointing as the failure to see the difference between a paleocon and a neocon.

As far as Buchananite tariffs go, I would support a modest tariff as the one and only source of federal government revenue, As Thomas Fleming said, paleocons and paleolibertarians should stop bickering until the federal government is reduced to about 5% its current size, and then argue about the rest. Forcing the federal government to survive on a budget solely generated by a flat tariff of, say 2%, would be a good way of reducing its size.

October 18, 2011 at 6:22 AM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Exactly. You are sounding more like Hamilton all the time. It was precisely Hamilton's argument that using the tariff to fund the federal govt would ensure it's small size because a tariff could never get too large without becoming counter-productive. The Feds would be locked in with a revenues stream that would be too small to enable big govt. see Clinton Rossiter's book on Hamilton for more on this. It really was one of the great man's key insights.

October 18, 2011 at 5:00 PM  

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