Free Trade

Sen. Josh Hawley's Plan To Abolish the World Trade Organization Is Based on Fake Economics and False History

Hawley is charting the next path for the Trump-style anti-trade nationalism that has infected the Republican Party.

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In calling for the United States to abandon or abolish the World Trade Organization (WTO), Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) is charting the next path for the Trump-style anti-trade nationalism that has infected the Republican Party. It's a plan that misunderstands both history and economics, one that would leave both America and the world poorer.

Writing in The New York Times on Tuesday, Hawley argued that the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic is "an opportunity to build…a better international order and a better economy for a better future for America." Doing so, Hawley argued, would require major reforms to a global trading system that he thinks has empowered China at the expense of American workers. For starters, he wanted to abolish the WTO.

Two days later, Hawley put his political capital where his mouth is: He introduced a one-sentence bill proposing that the United States withdraw from the WTO. That stops short of abolition, but then, the U.S. can't actually "abolish" the WTO; it can only pull out of it. (You'd think a China hawk like Hawley would think twice before leaving China as the largest member of the world's most influential trade organization, but I guess not.) In any case, either abolition or withdrawal would be an economic disaster for the United States and the world at large. Two economists at the University of Indiana estimate that the "disintegration of existing trade agreements will erase 30 percent of the overall gains from trade, which amounts to a $2.7 trillion loss in global GDP."

Hawley's op-ed included some made-up statistics meant to show that global trade is impoverishing America. "Under the W.T.O.'s auspices, capital and goods moved across borders easier than before, no doubt, but so did jobs," Hawley wrote. "As factories closed, workers suffered, from small towns to the urban core. Inflation-adjusted, working wages stagnated and upward mobility flatlined."

That's just false. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation-adjusted median weekly earnings for American workers have increased by 17 percent since 1995, when the WTO was founded.

"If we turned back the clock to 1995, most Americans would be poorer," writes Bryan Riley, director of the free trade initiative at the National Taxpayers Union. "Trade allowed the American economy to create new, higher-paying jobs while making traded goods like clothing and electronics more affordable."

But the biggest problem with Hawley's proposal is that he doesn't seem to have any idea how the WTO actually works. In his telling, the global trade system puts nations in the back seat as "new, multilateral institutions, like the W.T.O., would take on the role of managing the global economy."

In fact, the WTO doesn't manage anything. It's basically just "mutually agreed constraints on protectionism," writes Simon Lester, associate director of the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies. Nations are still in control of trade policy, but membership in the WTO comes with the recognition that moderating the political impulse to protect national industries makes everyone less well off.

Shawn Donnan, a senior writer for Bloomberg, offers a more poetic metaphor. The WTO is like a wedding venue, he suggests: "It helps pull off the event if you book it. But it doesn't do much more. Whether you decide to get married and the terms of your marriage are entirely up to you."

When political scientist Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, criticized Hawley's understanding of how the WTO operates and why it was created in the first place, Hawley doubled down on his misunderstanding of history and geopolitics. In a series of tweets, the senator claimed that the creation of the WTO in 1995 marked a turning point for the global economy (at least in liberal western nations), away from the Cold War focus on containing socialism.

That's a completely backwards reading of history. The chief economic project of the Cold War—at least in its final two decades, once Europe was fully rebuilt—was the creation of a global market for liberal economies. And it made sense for that effort to continue even after the USSR fell. In a 1989 letter to Congress, sent less than a month before he left office, President Ronald Reagan declared that "the United States remains committed to full multilateral liberalization" and endorsed the negotiations that, a few years later, produced the WTO.

Economic data also show how Hawley distorts history. Tariffs and other trade barriers didn't begin falling around the world in 1995 when the WTO was signed; they had been steadily falling for decades. The long decline in American manufacturing jobs didn't begin after the WTO was created, either: The number of American manufacturing jobs peaked in 1979 at around 19.5 million. But the era of greater global trade has helped spur a new wave of American manufacturing growth—jobs in that sector are up 12 percent since bottoming out in 2010. And when it comes to outputs, American manufacturing has never been more valuable than it is now. America's industrial production last year was 48 percent higher than in 1995, according to the Federal Reserve.

Outsourcing low-end manufacturing has allowed America to focus on manufacturing more expensive goods while maintaining access to cheap consumer goods that are now mostly made elsewhere. That shift has had negative consequences for some individuals, but addressing those human costs is a very different project than the one Hawley and the other neo-nationalists are proposing. Withdrawing from the WTO won't bring those jobs back. It will only make it more difficult for Americans to access the trading networks that are the backbone of the global economy.

The creation of the WTO, viewed in its proper context, is not an inflection point that marked the beginning of some "new model global economy" that Hawley wants to tear down. It was the culmination of a decades-long fight to stop socialism, expand markets, and boost production and prosperity all around the world. If those are the outcomes Hawley wants to reverse, he should say so.

NEXT: Governments Have Screwed Up Mask Purchase and Distribution. Maybe Everyone Should Be a Libertarian in a Pandemic.

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  1. “Sen. Josh Hawley’s Plan To Abolish the World Trade Organization Is Based on Fake Economics and False History”

    Says the Socialist who tries to wrap himself in Libertarian cloth.

    1. Says the statist trump-sucker who tries to wrap himself in libetrarian words.

      1. Says the dude objecting to someone criticizing an author supporting transnational supragovernmental organizations

        1. Says the ignorant statist who knows nothing of trade or the WTO.

          1. Says the CCP cocksucking twat.

            1. GG shows its ignorance again.

              1. How does that CCP splooge taste?

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              2. True ignorance is believing China will start acting as a Free Trade actor if we just give them a few more decades.

              3. Oh fuck off.
                Boehm is arguing for transnational bureaucracy and regulations and global governance. A defense of the World Trade Organization is the absolute antithesis of libertarianism.

                Not just regular statist bullshit, but the pinnacle of statist bullshit, which proves that he’s auditioning to try and be the token libertarian at WaPo or the Atlantic.

      2. Calling out piece of shit liar Boehm as socialist-supporting and disingenuous = “statist trump-sucker” to you?

        Psycho

        1. Yep, you and your crowd are trump-suckers, and statists to boot. You wouldn’t know socialism if it controlled your trade like you want to control mine.

          1. Nobody gives a fuck about your non-existent business, you fucking twat.

            1. If you don’t give a fuck about my non-existent business, why do you want to control it?

              None of you have yet made even the most pathetic feeble attempt to explain where you get the moral authority to mind my non-existent business.

              1. Nobody gives a fuck about moral authority or your pathetic play at spewing asinine freshman year sophistry, you worthless fucking twat.

              2. Do you understand what the WTO as an organization is attempting to do?

                Stop living in a fantasy world where everyone is a good actor. Sorry that you have to think harder than a world of idealism.

                Time for you to start socking, because you are losing this argument.

          2. It is hilarious watching you call out others for immediately jumping to trump-sucker comments when you get criticized, yet in every economic argument it is all you have due to your lack of education on economics.

            1. Alphabet soup is just another shitty Media Matters fifty-center like Jeff. He’s here to derail threads, not to make coherent arguments.

      3. Please ABC, with your vast bumper sticker understanding of Economics…. Tell us how demurring to a global trade organization is any better than demurring to a Federal one.

        1. Communist Chinese dick tastes better than Orange dick, I guess.

    2. Yeah, as far as I’m concerned, Sen. Josh Hawley’s Plan To Abolish the World Trade Organization Is Based on Fake Economics and False History is a ringing endorsement.

      1. If Eric Boehm-movement thinks its a bad idea, then it is probably a good one.

        1. Eric’s ideas magically appear in Vox the day before he thinks them.

  2. Reason loves deepthroating the CCP. How very libertarian of them.

    1. GG loves spouting irrelevant nonsense showing he hasn’t even read the article in question.

      (You’d think a China hawk like Hawley would think twice before leaving China as the largest member of the world’s most influential trade organization, but I guess not.)

      1. Fuck off, twat.

        1. GG hasn’t got even enough imagination to scare up a new insult.

          1. I’ll scare you right up your mom’s twat, you worthless fucking twat.

          2. But you are a twat. It’s more of a description than an insult.

      2. The irony of you calling out Federalist policies on Trade and then talking about the influence of the WTO to control trade. I literally can’t think of a better ironic stance than yours in regards to foreign trade.

      3. It ain’t gonna be “the world’s most influential trade organization” without us, dummy.

    2. Gasbag Blowhard,
      Please listen!
      You don’t know,
      What you’re missing!
      Donald’s ass, don’t be kissin’!
      Trump won’t love you,
      He’ll push and shove you!
      He’ll take your vote,
      Then call you a goat!
      He’ll tax your money,
      Then steal your Honey!
      Your pussy, He will grab,
      Your back, He will stab!
      His-victims-routines, He’s iterating,
      Shit about YOU, He’ll be Twitterating!

      1. Oh, ABC already did start socking. My bad. He must be losing the argument.

  3. One World Government Uber Alles!

    1. Protectionism Uber Alles! It will make us all RICH! Taxes (tariffs) for the enrichment of all!

      1. Federalist control of markets bad! Global control of markets good!

        1. JesseSPAZ and the Trumptatorshit telling us who to do business with, and who NOT to do business with, GOOD! Our own free-will choices? BAD!!!

          1. Business as a sole proprietorship, I presume? Wouldn’t want to rely on the statist endowed corporate form, now would we?

            The “free” market delusion is one of the most pernicious lies that libertarians smart enough to know better love to swallow.

            1. Geraje Guzba, AKA Gasbag Blowhard, knows better than diffuse free-will buying and selling decisions of free multitudes of free actors, in the free market. Gotcha!

              The bunny rabbits decide how many blades of grass to eat, and not eat, in nature. Ditto the wolves, in deciding how many rabbits to eat, and not eat. And it works very well! Is Gasbag Blowhard going to micro-manage and improve on nature, as well?

              1. So, conducting business cloaked in the protection of the statist corporate form, while crying about statism.

                Suicide is the freest thing you can do.

                1. Try and grow a few more neurons, to add to the mere 3 or so that you appear to own, you incoherent moron!

                  1. Kill yourself.

              2. And you think the WTO promotes “diffuse free-will buying and selling decisions of free multitudes of free actors”?
                Delusion, thy name is SQRLSY One.

                1. And you think the Trumptatorshit promotes “diffuse free-will buying and selling decisions of free multitudes of free actors”?
                  Delusion, thy name is RetardedFire.

                  1. Go fucking drink Draino you sack of useless shit, your the one defending a big government organization so quit acting like your a libertarian, shit for brains. I’ve seen your “comments” like bird shit on a windshield and your the fucking dumbest ass I’ve ever encountered on any comment board and that is saying a lot.

  4. WTO is a pack of conartists, grifters and thieves of state. I support anyone who decides to gut our participation with that ridiculous organization for any reason.

    1. You don’t know much about the WTO if you can dismiss them so easily. Sure, they are statists, but so is Trump, so was Obama, and so have been all politicians through all time. You ought to learn a little about how they operate before you lump them in with your idol Trump.

      1. Carry that water, boy!

        1. You drink Trump’s piss and think it sweet.

      2. Keep sucking that CCP cock.

        1. The lack of imagination and the boring repititiveness are a sure sign of a statist, in this case from the sub-genius Trumpista. Just repeat your marching orders, ad infinitum.

          1. Saying someone drinks Trump’s piss is super original around here.

            1. He goes full sarcasmic in economic threads. Then cries when he gets called a trump-sucker in legal threads from others. Go look at how he acts in Volokh compared to here. It is quite hilarious.

              1. Volokh allows the shenanigans allowed here? They didn’t used to. The whole thing was rather dignified.

                1. TDS has fried a lot of circuits.

  5. Republican anti-free-traders, protectionists step #1:
    Tear down the WTO that tries to adjudicate trade disputes, so that more nations can get more protectionist, and then, all of the nations will get RICHER!

    Republican anti-free-traders, protectionists step #2:
    Tear down the USA Constitution that tries to adjudicate trade disputes between states, with that silly “interstate commerce” clause, so that more states can get more protectionist, and then, all of the states will get RICHER!

    Republican anti-free-traders, protectionists step #3:
    Tear down ideas about stupid “free trading” between different cities in the same state. Good jobs for good citizens of Des Moines!

    Republican anti-free-traders, protectionists step #4: Good jobs ONLY for those who dwell in the house of SQRLSY One! No one else DESERVES to trade with me!!! I will do my own iron ore mining, smelting, tool manufacture, food growing, cloth weaving, home dentistry, you name it… It is actually a straight-line ticket to utter poverty!!!

    When are ignorant bastards going to wake the fuck up?

    1. SQRLSY One:
      blahblahblah take me seriously blahblahblah

  6. Infected? Yes, differing political positions are the same as disease. Lets all stay indoors and crash the economy until people agree with you.

    On second thought, fuck off.

    1. Considering the stupid and destructive nature of those positions, I don’t think it’s unfair to call it an infection. As for the rest of your post, I was barely able to dodge the flying non sequitur.

  7. As usual, the Statists come out in droves against free trade, because who knows better what people want to do than the State?

    None of them have ever answered my basic question: What gives you, Trump, or anybody the moral authority to control who I do business with, who I visit or who visits me, who I hire or who hires me?

    Nothing. They are Statist authoritarians through and through, and worship St Trump because beating Hillary was such an unexpected miracle that they think he can do no wrong.

    Fuck off, slavers. Go control your own base impulses to limit your trade to expensive inefficient markets. Leave mine alone. They are none of your business.

    1. “None of them have ever answered my basic question: What gives you, Trump, or anybody the moral authority to control who I do business with, who I visit or who visits me, who I hire or who hires me?”

      Exactly.

    2. Amen!

      The slavers want to enslave us all, by calling anyone that they dislike, “slave labor”!

      Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf, I do NOT like the way that the businesses in Idaho treat their workers!!! Dammit, workers in Idaho are fucking SLAVES, so YOU, Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf, may NOT buy from sellers in Idaho! Or at the VERY least, you must pay a BUNCH of taxes on Idaho products! THAT will help the slaves in Idaho, and the people in MY state!

    3. “As usual, the Statists come out in droves against free trade, because who knows better what people want to do than the State?”

      This might be the single dumbest thing I’ve ever read, and sqrlsy is shitting up the page (though, to be honest, I don’t read any of the stupid shit sqrlsy writes).
      Carry that transnational super-government water, boy.
      At least they let you call it “free”

      1. Go ahead, answer my question: whence comes your moral authority to control my life?

        You won’t, you never have, and you never will. You have no moral authority and no morals.

        1. What gives you the moral authority to exist?

          1. Thus illustrating your lack of individualism and your thoroughly statist outlook, straight from the horse’s ass.

            1. What a feeble response, you twat.

              1. Statists have no logical or ethical response, so they respond with childish insults, as their only response. Typical!

                1. What, no nursery rhymes, you twat?

            2. You should probably just admit you have no fucking clue, and can’t do anything but spout doctrinal pablum and hysterically decry others as the bigoted caricature you’ve been spoon fed

              1. What gives you the moral authority to exist?

                The moronic lack of logical thinking that’s been spoon fed to you by the Trumptatorshit?

                1. It’s a legitimate question.

    4. What gives you, Trump, or anybody the moral authority to control who I do business with, who I visit or who visits me, who I hire or who hires me?

      So you support disbanding the WTO then?

      1. I’d love to get rid of the WTO, but they are a much lesser evil than nationalist trade demons like Trump.

        1. No you wouldn’t. You love that Chinese communist dick in your ass.

          1. Well, a change! New words and new phrases. But alas, still lacking in creativity, still sourced from the same tired statist phrase book.

            1. Did I make little twat cry?

        2. So, you’re here complaining about one group forcing itself between you and your trading partners but demand that the rest of us allow your favored group to stand between us and our trading partners?

          1. One group clearly has the moral authority … and full weight of the CCP behind it.

        3. alephbet…I won’t insult you. The question is: The WTO is a much lesser evil than POTUS Trump’s trade policy for America.

          State your case.

    5. Demurring and enhancing the WTO is free trade… lol. God your argument is pathetic.

    6. The idea that we live in a world governed by “moral authority” is as ludicrous as the idea that the WTO promotes free trade.

  8. “Trump-style anti-trade nationalism that has infected the Republican Party”

    Precisely. And at the same time, Koch-style open borders globalism is rapidly becoming the official position of the Democratic Party.

    IOW, this clearly isn’t the 1980s anymore. The Democrats are now objectively the pro-billionaire party. That’s why it’s the duty of all Koch / Reason libertarians to vote Democrat whenever possible.

    #VoteDemocratToHelpCharlesKoch

  9. So, the United Nations is full of corrupt bureaucrats. Places like Saudi Arabia taken seriously when it comes to discussions of human rights, sex slavery rings run by troops seconded to the UN, etc.

    The World Health Organization was not only useless, it was actively counterproductive during the opening phases of this pandemic, covering for China as it was. In addition, its head blames *Taiwan* for the attention paid to his mismanagement.

    But the World Trade Organization is different? Or is it that we’ve just not caught it with its pants down yet?

    And, for a libertarian magazine, why the support for the WTO instead of, you know, free trade? Unilateral free trade if necessary.

    1. You have no concept of gray. The WTO is a corrupt bureaucracy, but less so than every government. The WTO at least puts a few brakes on the corrupt national governments. When the US actually implements unilateral free trade, then US membership in the WTO will be superfluous. Until then, it is a lesser evil.

      1. Expedient statism.

        Twat.

      2. Why can’t we just negotiate our own trade agreements like we did for over 200 years? Since when is being a member of a corrupt and incompetent supra national organization necessary for free trade?

        1. Because we’re all Trump dick suckers for daring to point out the problems with the WTO or considering alternatives.

          It isn’t even worth responding to that moron.

          1. Yet you keep responding with insults instead of answering the basic fundamental question: What gives you any moral authority to manage my trade or any of my (non-existent) business?

            You have no answers, no moral authority, no morals. Your minds are bankrupt.

            1. Nobody is talking about moral authority, you freshman year fucking twat.

            2. The same moral authority that allows you to insist that the WTO should be allowed the same power that you decry Trump exercising.

              You can’t sit here and say that its horrible that Trump is interfering with your exercise of free trade and that other people are poopyheads for supporting that when you’re here saying that the WTO should be allowed to interfere with our exercise of free trade and we’re all poopyheads for not wanting that.

              1. Can you cite an example of where the WTO used its vast authority to restrict free trade?

                1. Are we still pretending the internet doesn’t exist?

                  1. Yes but I’m unsure of the parameters for what qualifies as “restricting free trade”. I don’t think that telling a country that under a WTO ruling it is allowed to levy tariffs on an import qualifies as “restricting trade” since the ultimate authority still rests with the sovereign nation. So I am asking for examples to see if there are other ways in which the WTO can “restrict trade”?

                    1. Tariffs are restrictions on trade. The WTO, at a minimum, gives backing to tariffs. They help enable trade restrictions – even if in the process they help limit the damage protectionist government’s can do.

                      But let’s not pretend they’re not enablers.

                    2. “Tariffs are restrictions on trade. The WTO, at a minimum, gives backing to tariffs. They help enable trade restrictions – even if in the process they help limit the damage protectionist government’s can do.

                      But let’s not pretend they’re not enablers.”

                      Is that true? If we compare countries prior to joining the WTO to after joining, will we see an increase in tariffs due to joining?

        2. Can we do the negotiations first, before pulling out? I have no love for any of the UN agencies but something about babies and bath water.

        3. Why do you insist in managing my trade, gussied up in nonsense? Again — none of you have ever answered the basic question of where anyone gets the moral authority to manage my trade. None of you have even made the most pathetic attempts to cloak it in national security or paternalism or anything except “Trump!”

          1. Feel free to join the WTO. What’s stopping you?

            1. “Feel free to join the WTO. What’s stopping you?”

              The fucking Trumptatorshit and all of its guns and jails are what’s stopping me, you utterly moronic, thick-headed nitwit, you!!!

              1. Really? Not the fact that it’s for …. STATES only? Free TRADE!

          2. I don’t. I just don’t see why you consider the WTO to have the power to stand betwixt to be OK but not for Trump to have that power.

            I say none of them should have it.

            I do not see why you would think an international organization – when there is a long history of international organizations being utterly unaccountable and high-handed – should be preferable.

            1. Same reason I’d prefer to go to arbitration over a contract dispute as opposed to Trump or any president decreeingv the winner.

              1. Even when the arbitrator doesn’t know what he’s doing and gets paid to make a decision by the same people breaching the contract?

                1. Last numbers I can find, from 2015, show that China funded 8.6% of the WTO while the USA funded 11.3% so not sure what the comment about “getting paid” is in reference to. As for “doesn’t know what he’s doing”, they seem to know more than Trump. Trump has been pretty good on a number of things, however respecting my right to do business with whomever I want is not one of them.

                  1. It was in reference to the use of arbitrators.

                    1. So you weren’t comparing the WTO arbitration process to a hypothetical arbitrator paid for by the other side? Not sure of the point you were aiming for then.

              2. But arbitration is still someone ‘decreeing the winner’.

                You might trust the arbitrator more, but you’re still investing the power to pick a winner in them.

                I’d rather nobody had the power to restrict my trading partners.

                1. The WTO doesn’t have the power to restrict anyone’s trading partners and we were talking about contract disputes. The contracts are what restricts your trading partners, not the guy judging them.

          3. So you simply don’t see the fact that the WTO manages your trade as is and when it’s suggested that they stop doing that you fly off the handle and tell us you love being managed so much that you call that state ‘freedom’ even though it objectively is the thing you claim to hate?

            Does that about sum it up?

            Losing respect for you by the day, alphabet.

          4. No one answers your silly question because it is nothing but a meaningless whine from you.
            We don’t live by “moral” authorities, just governmental/legal ones and those, currently put such management in the hands of our executive, with advice and consent of the Senate.
            Don’t like it?
            Move!

    2. But the World Trade Organization is different?

      Yes.

      Look, the WTO bureaucracy has all of 640 employees, no independent rulemaking authority, no powers of enforcement, and a budget of $0.2 billion (of which the US pays $0.02 billion). That bureaucracy only does three things:

      First, it organizes trade discussions among countries.

      Second, it arbitrates disputes over whether countries are adhering to a set of international trade agreements. If it holds that a country is violating them, the “remedy” it grants is permission for the other parties to violate them in retaliation.

      Third, it gathers and compiles data to help with the previous two functions.

      I mean, yes, there might be some waste and corruption in its budget, sure. But, really, it’s quite harmless.

      1. But, really, it’s quite harmless.

        It is unnecessarily redundant even as you describe it.

  10. If not trading with China is your goal, would you support the USA joining the TPP in order to help diminish China’s trade dominance in Asia?

    Not saying you need to agree with ever tenant of the agreement; I don’t like managed trade myself; but its better then not trading in my opinion.

    1. It is arguable that, had we signed the TPP, that would have made Trump’s tariffs unnecessary, since it would have had the same effect by stimulating trade with other TPP members. The difference in implementation as opposed to tariffs is that the change would have been more orderly, and permitted more time for developing new chains of supply, rather than the mess many American manufacturers were left with. And, no tariff monies going to the Federal coffer, which is always a good thing. At least that is my take on it.

    2. The communist 0blama’s administration negotiated the TPP, including immigration provisions.
      Anyone who thinks it would have diminished China’s trade dominance, anywhere, is deluded.

    3. I agree that failure to join the TPP was a mistake. President Trump is incompetent and fails to see the need for multinational trade agreement to hold countries like China in check. Instead his tariffs taxed Americans and gave China leverage over him when COVID19 first broke out. His desire to get a bilateral agreement with China prevented him from confronting China on the outbreak.

  11. You do not have to sell a false choice between the WTO and no international trade or influence. If the US pulls out, trade deals can continue as before 1995. If China continue to abuse the WTO, others will withdraw as well, leaving them the huge frog in a shrinking pond.
    Of course, this could happen to the US if we withdraw, but we have a much better track record of honoring our deals. Not nearly perfect, but far better.

    1. “We”? The US does not have trade deals; Americans do. Americans who dishonor trade deals get taken to court and earn their unreliable reputation. The US can only fuck up Americans’ trade deals.

      Stop conflating “American” and “US”. One is people, the other a government.

      1. So because only Americans have “trade deals”, the US government must be a member of and support a corrupt organization called the WTO.

        Yeah, that makes sense. Can you at least make a rationally consistent argument?

        1. No, read what I wrote, not what you think Trump wants. I;d be glad to ditch the WTO if we had unilateral free trade, but as long as you clowns insist on controlling my trade, the WTO is at least a small brake on your worst ambitions.

          1. Unilateral free trade? How does that work, twat?

            1. It means every American is free to trade or not trade with whomever they want, regardless of the wishes of Trump or any American politician.

              1. And everyone they trade with is going to cooperate, act honestly, and be perfectly amenable, because that’s reality. Except, it’s not.

                You can’t have unilateral free trade when the only person playing by the rules is you.

                1. Why trade with people that aren’t honest? And yes, I can have unilateral free trade with everyone when I set the rules. Don’t follow my rules and I won’t trade with you. Pretty simple.

                  1. //Why trade with people that aren’t honest?//

                    To fuck other people.

                    If you want real free trade, then fine. Abandon the corporate form and conduct all business in your individual capacity. Assume all the liability.

                    1. Why abandon the corporate form? Aren’t I free to associate or not associate with whomever I wish? And I have no idea how I “fuck” some third party by trading with someone who I know to be dishonest. Wouldn’t that be more likely to get me “fucked”?

                    2. Are you a 12 year old? This is waste of time.

                    3. “Are you a 12 year old? This is waste of time.”

                      Says the guy who doesn’t understand how unilateral free trade among competing jurisdictions with different rulesets like the states creates competition among differing political and judicial systems allowing people to vote with their feet and dollars, sort of like how people are moving away from places like NY and California to states like Texas and Georgia.

                    4. There is no such thing as unilateral free trade. It’s a contradiction in terms. Just like there’s no such thing as unilateral sex. It’s either masturbation, or rape.

                      Take your pick. The naivety in your absurdist free market assertions is obvious to anyone with a brain.

                    5. Now you are playing semantics. Everyone knows that “unilateral free trade” means that individuals in that country get to set their own trade policies. Anyone who believes in property rights should be a supporter.

                    6. //Everyone knows that “unilateral free trade” means that individuals in that country get to set their own trade policies. //

                      Yes, and they can ride unicorns too. You are completely deluded.

                2. We have unilateral free trade between the states in America even though not every state plays by the same rules. Seems to work ok.

                  1. Because we are one country. Bad example.

                    1. Why is that a bad example? I thought this was about different rules?

                    2. Why is that border important here but the internal borders are not?

                      What is the difference between the US-Mexico border and the Arizona-California border that doesn’t come down solely to the agreement of the people on each side of those borders?

                    3. Heck, even between towns and county there are different rules. Why is it ok for trade to be free between a city and its surrounding county but not outside one particular border line?

  12. Ignore Hawley. This is just him running for the 2024 Republican Presidential nomination.

  13. That’s just false. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation-adjusted median weekly earnings for American workers have increased by 17 percent since 1995, when the WTO was founded.

    Is Eric so stupid that he doesn’t understand what the word “median” means or is so fucking dishonest he thinks no one else does? Median means average. Sure, average wages among 300 million people are up. Big fucking deal. There are a lot of different ways, an infinite number of ways in fact, you add numbers up to get a higher average. Just because the average is up doesn’t mean things are getting better for the “average” or for most people. It could be that things are getting really better for a small number of people and either staying the same or getting really shitty for everyone else. That will raise the medium just the same as everyone getting an equal raise. So what is going on here?

    What is going on is from 1979 to 2018 real wages for top ten percent earners went up 37.6%, 6.1% for those in the bottom 50% and 1.6 percent for the bottom 10 percent of earners. \

    Wages for men in the lover half went down by 5.1%. They only went up overall because they rose by 25% for women. And the 25% is totally artificial. It is the result of women working more and having more income potential over that time not any real rise in wages. Had women been more fully integrated into the workforce in 1979, there is no way that number is so high and overall wages likely would be flat.
    https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45090.pdf

    Global trade has been a great thing for the top earners and people like Eric who get paid to talk out of their asses for a living and just want access to endless amounts of cheap shit. For everyone else, not so much.

    1. No, John, you are a statist trump-licker who insists on minding everybody else’s business. You have zero understanding of trade, individualism, libertarianism, or anything else unrelated to liberty. All you know is statism.

      1. What a feeble response, twat.

      2. You’re temper tantrum is super convincing.
        Very mature!

        John: median isn’t average, it’s middle. If in a group of 10 people, 3 make $0, 3 make $5, 3 make $10, and 1 makes $100 the average income would be $14.50, but the median is $5

      3. But you’re the one here pushing for institutions that are designed to effectively create a one-world state.

    2. Is Eric so stupid that he doesn’t understand what the word “median” means or is so fucking dishonest he thinks no one else does?

      Median means average.

      *facepalm*

      1. Median means average.

        LOL. Never change John.

    3. What, no ‘Hedonic Adjustment’? It’s what Reason usually does when you bring up that annoying stat. Yah, you meant ‘mean’ for the average, not ‘median’ like Binion used, but I think your point still holds about how well the lower half of salaries have done over the years of GATT then the WTO.

      You brought up an amazing (to me at least) argument awhile ago about this sort of thing, that I’ve not seen reported elsewhere. Free trade, converting American workers over from primarily manufacturing and agriculture, to services, and offshoring the manufacturing jobs, was going to lower those workers’ salaries. But the increased consumer goods that would be available from this move, would be so much cheaper to buy, that their overall standard of living would increase.

      I don’t know whether that happened, but that’s the sort of tradeoff argument to make. Instead of blindly asserting that costs to produce goods is down, prices are down, and that by itself is enough to make it a good decision.

      The lower class that actually works, has been kicked in the crotch by globalization. And social mobility has gone down. My family growing up worked construction to elevate their status from agricultural manual labor, to tradesmen, to owning their own contracting business. Policies of the last 40 years or so—most of them cheerleaded by this magazine—have done everything possible to saw those rungs off the ladder. And racism only seems to matter when it’s done by Anglos. Blah, blah, buggy whips, learn to code. Whoops, offshoring’s and H1-B’s are screwing IT workers now too.

      In addition to the groups you mention, it’s been great for foreign workers. No matter the liveleak video to the contrary, it’s got to be better to be a foundry worker in Wuhan than starving behind a buffalo pulling a plow through a rice paddy.

    4. John, great points about where the WTO benefits have gone. Because it is not going to American workers in the lower 60% of income in the form of higher wages.

      “Free, rules based trade” by the WTO has decidedly mixed results.

    5. John,

      Median does not mean average or mean or medium. Only in a normal distribution (bell curve) of something like height of people in the US will they be the same number. For things like income where you have some people making billions and others making 5,000 the mean or average will tell you that the average American (2019) had a household income of ~$90K, but the median (half above, half below the number) was only ~$63K. The high incomes skew the average upward and it does not reflect the true picture of incomes as well as the median.

  14. Hawley’s an idiot but even a stopped clock is right twice a day. The WTO may not be evil for Hawley’s reasons but that doesn’t automatically make it good.

    1. This is the best take I’ve seen in the thread so far. The WTO is a governmental body, and as such it is quite fallible. That its funding is so disproportionate leaves it open for corruption. But it certainly isn’t just China. The US is in on the game too.

      Why do we need any governmental body, be it the WTO or national governments, controlling the trading preferences of “free” people? The WTO may be the lesser of all evils here, but still fundamentally flawed.

  15. I don’t care what Hawley’s reasoning is. Free trade agreements and free trade organizations are a sham, a farce, and an affront to actual free trade. Either abolish them or get the U.S. out of them.

  16. When are libertarians going to admit that their free market fantasy is … a fantasy? When measured against an unrealistic ideal that never existed, and never will, all policies appear absurd. When your conclusions are that everything is wrong, check your premise.

    Free markets don’t exist.

    1. Sure they don’t exist. But do you doubt that free markets are the ideal?

      1. Do you doubt that God is the ideal?

        Hypothetical things that don’t exist, don’t concern me. The notion of the “free market” is an article of faith, and it suffers from the same consistency problems as the notion of an overarching deity that is infallible, all-powerful, and all-knowing.

        1. God is not the ideal. Most accounts of God are authoritarian. Do as he says or you suffer in some way.

          But, you dodged the question. What is your ideal economic system then?

          1. I answered your question, you just didn’t like the answer.

            1. What is your ideal economic system?

              1. I have no idea what is ideal when it comes to markets. If you are starting out with a predefined conception of an “ideal” market, and working your way backwards, you may just be a member of the very class of statists you purport to despise.

                1. I have no idea what is ideal when it comes to markets.
                  That might be the problem.

                  My ideal economic system is that in which individuals own the fruits of their labor (property) and can allocate it as they best see fit without any external influence.

                  See, that wasn’t so hard.

                  1. //My ideal economic system is that in which individuals own the fruits of their labor (property) and can allocate it as they best see fit without any external influence.//

                    Everyone is entitled to their fantasies.

                    1. Even if not fully achievable, at least I can advocate for policies that move the needle in that direction. Your apparent economic agnosticism leaves you with no principle to guide your thought.

                    2. I do not believe in the efficacy, or practicability, of top-down economic prognostication.

                      It strikes me as odd that someone like you, who purports to believe in an “ideal free market” (leaving factual impossibility aside), bothers trying to trace their way from a hypothetical ideal state in order to weave into existence an economic system that gets you to that goal.

                      Agnosticism is simply an acknowledgment that we do not have the answers. If you are structuring the economy, even academically, with reference to “ideal” standards, you’ve already lost in your quest for a “free” market.

                    3. My entire point is that this mode of thinking is, at best, an academic contrivance. There is no ideal “out there.” And, if you believe there is, then you and the statists and central planners are not all that different.

                    4. Geraje Guzba
                      May.8.2020 at 9:27 pm
                      My entire point is that this mode of thinking is, at best, an academic contrivance. There is no ideal “out there.” And, if you believe there is, then you and the statists and central planners are not all that different.

                      My comment: This, from the Gasbag Blowhard who shows HIS ideals (as his advocacy shows what are REALLY his ideals) as being in obedience to the statists and central planners of the Trumptatorshit protectionistsas! The Trumptatorshit is NOT statist, and the WHO is statist, because Gasbag Blowhard says so!

    2. The only reason they don’t exist is people not being willing to kill those who would enslave them. And yes, that includes all of us.

  17. Do you doubt that God is the ideal?

    Hypothetical things that don’t exist, don’t concern me. The notion of the “free market” is an article of faith, and it suffers from the same consistency problems as the notion of an overarching deity that is infallible, all-powerful, and all-knowing.

    1. There have been plenty of free markets throughout history.

  18. Per the “outsourcing low-end manufacturing” comment.

    When we outsourced “low-end” manufacturing, we didn’t just outsource sneaker companies and clothing companies. We also outsourced most of the electronics manufacturing industry and killed incentives for students to study manufacturing engineering. You can’t hire enough manufacturing engineers in the U.S. to bring staff a big electronics firm locally. Solar cell manufacturing is also mainly outsourced. These are also industries that will be more and more automated and are key for innovation.

    Outsourcing high tech to the extent we do is short term bean-counter strategy. It’s not in the interest of maintaining long term competitiveness.

    1. //Outsourcing high tech to the extent we do is short term bean-counter strategy. It’s not in the interest of maintaining long term competitiveness.//

      If you envision a free global market with no states or government, it makes sense. But that is always the flaw in libertarian thinking on this subject. States exist and, as long as they exist, outsourcing has the potential to be very harmful in the long term.

      1. A free global market would require free global movement of goods, services, capital, and people in both directions. Neither the open borders crowd, not the supposed free trade advocates are proposing that.

  19. Libertarians for supra-governmental tax-funded international fuckery?

    1. Truly an odd take for a purportedly “libertarian” magazine. I don’t pretend to understand libertarianism, but it seems to me that Boehm’s infatuation with the WTO cannot possibly be rooted in libertarian thought.

      It seems to me that the entire impetus for this article is the unfounded fear that the country will be unable to adequately negotiate trade agreements with other nations absent membership in this one particular organization. Boehm, however, does not provide any reasoning or explanation why that is the case. Why do we have to part of the club to negotiate? Is there really no point at which the costs outweigh the benefits?

      All in all, this seems like a cheap and not particularly well thought out way for Boehm to vaguely whine about Trump’s nationalism, while placing globalism, with no concern for any policy details, on a pedestal.

  20. Liberal economies, like communist China? Like Keynesian America? Maybe those economies are liberal, but they are not free market.

  21. “an opportunity to build…a better international order and a better economy for a better future for America.”

    Needs a deep voiced narrator and stirring patriotic music. Maybe some video of flags waving.

    Better. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  22. Wow, “Reason” is defending a big government, regulatory agency calling itself the “World Trade Organization”. I think “Reason” is a little fucking confused about what constitutes “free trade”, it isn’t more regulations like “NAFTA”, it isn’t crony capitalism trade either.

  23. Eric,

    There is a typo of some sort here: “moderating the political impulse to protect national industries makes everyone less well off.”

  24. Hawley and his ilk, left and right, believe we can go back to a time when the US was the sole economic superpower. That other countries will just go back to living in huts so Americans can have all have middle class life styles. The world is getting smaller. We can join organization like the WTO and lead. Or let the world pass us by.

    1. Or we can act like other countries do..put tariffs up, subsidize, and peg our currency to theirs…which would be very interesting. I’m all for real free trade…go back to the gold standard…ha ha fat chance

  25. There is no such thing as free trade today. Come to central NY and you can see the absolute devastation due to keynesian/floating currency economics. Yes low end manufacturing left but it wasn’t replaced with high tech or higher production value in most places. The truth is the world doesn’t work like what free traders want so their explanations are wrong. Free trade is pretty easy in theory. Neither side subsidizes their local industry (fat chance on that), neither side has tariffs (the only part that we sometimes have), and this is the big one….one side does not peg their currency to the others. You want free trade..go back to the gold standard. But govts will never do that..for obvious reasons. So in the end Hawley is right..there is no such thing as free trade and every countries govt should engage in trade rules that benefit the majority not the wall street crowd. Trade deals are basically “war” in another form. And should be conducted bilaterally not by a third party.

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