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So, why not embrace unilateral free trade? That is, the United States will say that we will take down all of our barriers -- including our absurd anti-dumping laws -- and enjoy the fruits of what the world makes.
Yes, we would lose the leverage of using our own trade barriers as bargaining chips: You know, we'll lower our tariffs only if you lower your tariffs -- which is like saying, we'll stop banging our heads against the wall only if you stop banging yours.
But such tactics haven't gotten us very far. Other nations lower their barriers only when they realize that free trade is in the best interests of their consumers. By unilaterally adopting free trade, we can show them the way.
The problem is that, even if advocates take a more moderate, but principled, position, this is a tough time to launch an intellectually honest campaign for free trade, with more and more politically powerful industries suffering from foreign competition.
But consider what is at stake: On the current course, broader protectionism -- along with its financial equivalent, capital controls -- is inevitable. That would make a world recession or depression inevitable, too. The only answer: stand up for free trade.