06/13/2018

Free Trade Already Puts America First

David Harsanyi, The Federalist

These days, the label “globalist” is a pejorative meant to insinuate that a person is more concerned about international corporations than about his fellow American citizens.

Now, admittedly, I support nearly unlimited trade, no matter what other nations do. It’s mostly because I love America. “Hey, those Chinese communists are killing us with high tariffs … maybe we should do the same thing to our own citizens!” sounds like a counterproductive idea wrapped in a false choice. Harming hundreds of millions of consumers to try and save a handful of unproductive jobs, no matter how good it feels, doesn’t put America first.

Donald Trump, a man who campaigned on protectionist rhetoric (he was not alone) says he can finagle better trade agreements for the United States. Honestly, if he’s using the threat of tariffs as a cudgel to attain those deals, I don’t really care if Justin Trudeau’s feelings are hurt. I’m fine with the “We’re America, B-tch” Doctrine as long as it’s actually good for America.

Judging from his rhetoric, though, it seems the president believes protectionism is preferable to deals that lower barriers all around. His public position on trade — one of his only enduring political positions — is that jobs and industries can be saved using tariffs.

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4,000 Years Of Price Control

Tablets, said to be 200 years older than the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi ... show that the ancient kingdom of Eshnunna had wage control and price control. The news ought not to have come as a surprise. For the code of Hammurabi itself (unearthed in 1902), which was promulgated earlier than 2000 B.C., fixed prices, wages, interest rates, and fees. This makes price control at least about 4,000 years old. ...

 

Ironically, it is those who now wish to return to this ancient totalitarian device who are fondest of calling themselves “progressives.” They are also fond of saying that those who believe in economic liberty “are living in the nineteenth century.” These controlists have yet to learn that they themselves are still living, as the discoveries in Babylonia attest, in the nineteenth century—B.C.!

-- Henry Hazlitt,

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