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Free Minds & Free Markets

The Republicans Abandon Free Trade

The GOP betrays its principles for the sake of political expediency.

Are there any free market principles Republicans won't abandon at the altar of political expediency? They certainly have long stopped standing up for fiscal responsibility, and though they held on to their free trade principles for some time and seemed to understand that trade "remedies" (such as tariffs) mostly hurt the American people rather than foreign exporters, that didn't last long after Donald Trump took office. It's astonishing what the Trump presidency has done to the GOP's position on trade.

But really, this all started during the presidential campaign, when Trump's constant railing against trade and trade agreements seemed to prod other Republican candidates, such as Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, to talk about "fair" trade (protectionism) as opposed to "free" trade.

Now that he's in office, Trump has followed through with a comprehensive protectionist agenda—threatening foreign governments with a multi-front trade war, which he claims will be easy for us to win. Most recently, Trump imposed stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum against, among others, the European Union, Canada, and Mexico—which may be followed with tariffs on automobiles. Adding insult to injury, he's justifying his actions by claiming that imports of steel and aluminum—and automobiles, for that matter—from these countries "threaten to impair the national security" of the United States. Never mind that six of the top 10 providers of steel to the U.S. are our NATO allies and closest friends.

In the face of a diplomatic backlash and a likely negative economic impact, the Republicans in Congress are doing nothing. It's not because they lack the power; they lack the backbone. Beyond condemning the president's erratic and counterproductive actions, they could pass legislation to reverse the imposition of tariffs. They could also reclaim some of the authority they delegated to the president to impose tariffs, as a few, including Sens. Mike Lee and Ron Johnson, have suggested.

Unfortunately, if the past few months are an indication of where Republicans' heads are at, they'll not only do nothing but even go out of their way to rationalize the Trump administration's trade policy.

Consider House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Appearing on a bunch of Sunday shows recently, he argued not only that tariffs on European and Canadian imports had to be levied in the name of free trade but that they were also a sign that the United States is "standing up for the process." Such comments would make those of us who understand economics laugh—if we weren't so sad.

McCarthy is misleading the American people when he claims that imposing tariffs is an effective way to persuade other countries to lower their own tariffs. That's unlikely. The way the United States got other countries to lower their trade barriers in the past was by being decisively pro-free trade. Leading by protectionism will only lead to more protectionism.

McCarthy is also deceiving the American people by pretending that these tariffs will punish foreign governments for their protectionist tendencies. These tariffs will jack up the price of producing goods made with steel within the United States. That will make it more difficult for U.S. manufacturers to compete with foreigners who make goods out of steel without the added cost of tariffs. This will result in thousands of lost U.S. manufacturing jobs at the hand of the Trump administration and a lapdog Congress that apparently has not learned from the past.

McCarthy's spin that the Trump administration is "standing up for the process" through tariffs is even more laughable. The national security argument is bogus when levying tariffs against our NATO allies. In fact, during a U.S. Department of Commerce investigation, the Department of Defense wrote a letter to say that no tariffs were needed to protect national security and that the DOD's military needs are fulfilled by only 3 percent of the domestic steel production.

But that expert opinion didn't stop the Trump administration from labeling NATO allies' steel imports a threat to our national security. The dangers of Trump's move will become very clear when those former allies drag our protectionist leaders before the World Trade Organization and the United States loses as experts predict we will.

Many of us have long surmised that the Republican Party stands for little more than low taxes, but at least it used to show some sort of commitment to free trade. Not anymore.

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  • Inigo Montoya||

    What major party does NOT betray its principles for the sake political expediency? It's always about principals over principles with both teams.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Or minor party for that matter. The LP keeps abandoning principles in favor of high profile candidates.

  • Citizen X||

    Or just high candidates.

  • Brandybuck||

    Yeah. The LPs gudiing principles really should be about running candidates who can't possible bet elected. If they can have a couple of hookers on their arms for their campaign shots, so much the better! As long as they genuflect to the purist NAP wing, they're good to go.

  • Cyto||

    Is there such a thing as a competent politician who fully understands the NAP?

  • Braunasaurus||

    Dem s have minimum wage cons have tariff s. The real problem is libertarian s are just jealous for not having our own useful idiots

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Yeah we only have useless idiots.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Come on now, Bill Weld tried to be useful to the HRC campaign.

  • ThomasD||

    We're an elite corps.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The GOP has never been about the kind of limited government like Libertarians of Classic Liberals.

    The GOP has never been for free trade but managed trade that is fairly free.

    Trump is trying to push foreign countries to get our managed trade agreements closer to free trade as possible. America is the best market in the World, which is why countries are freaking out about Trump pushing back on managed trade deals.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    [groan]

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Or we can just keep the status quo of current managed trade deals.

    These other countries will never alter the deal they have with the USA without America standing up to them. They get to sell in the best market in the World (USA) for relatively little regulatory cost.

    Meanwhile American companies have to pay out the ass for taxes, cater to massive regulations (including limiting free speech), and be subject to other import restrictions (like tariffs).

  • sarcasmic||

    So the solution is to make Americans pay more for foreign goods. Brilliant!

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    But we gave them that tax cut so they could afford to pay more! So really the solution is to make American children pay more for their parents' foreign goods.

    Ain't it grand?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You are already paying more for foreign goods.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    See "more" isn't a binary state. You can pay more than zero, but less than what we'll pay once tariffs go into effect. Once they go into effect we'll pay even more.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    But you can pay less after tariffs are removed because other countries adjust their managed trade deals with the USA.

    We're arguing over managed trade artificially inflated costs not that there are zero non-market costs under free trade.

  • rocks||

    loveconstitution is exactly right.

    There is no free trade today, but highly unbalanced trade. The US has an open trade policy, but other countries implement multiple methods to keep their boarders closed to US goods. I worked in Asia for years, trust me the boarders are closed to US companies. That is why you see a ton of hyundais in the US, but ZERO Fords or GMs in Korea. This can not go on.

    Trump will end up liberalizing global trade more than it is today, the will be the result of his standing up to other trade practices finally. But Reason is too stupid to see that and apparently goes with what feelz good now because it has TDS.

  • Delius||

    Jesus Fucking Christ, I am sick of people waving the magic wand of "TDS" to make all their doubts about Trump disappear.

  • Cyto||

    The "other methods" thing is absolutely true.

    Highlights in "non-tariff trade restrictions" from memory:

    Japan supporting domestic textile industry while banning superior US imports: US washcloths are too thick to fit in Japanese ears. (really, they said that)

    Japan protected Fuji Film from competition from Kodak, keeping them out of Japan.

    Taiwan and Korea owning flat panel production through heavy subsidies, putting US manufacturers out of the business.

    China requiring all foreign businesses doing business in China to be through a Chinese owned entity.

    Europe protecting their farming base via bans on US crops and livestock for various reasons, including pseudo-science based bans on GMO crops and animals treated with hormones.

    Japan protecting domestic farmers from US rice.

    France prohibitions on foreign produced entertainment.

    The list could go on for days, if I had the time and even a modicum of expertise in the field.

  • ThomasD||

    Not binary, not static either.

    Prices for some things might go up, others could go down. Or productivity gains may offset price increases.

    The amount of rank dishonesty and blatant hypocrisy in these debates is only exceeded when 'open borders' types hem and haw about the net effect on government spending/tax burdens and deficits.

    Nobody who has ever been in a position to actually affect national trade policy has EVER been a purist.

  • TJJ2000||

    YES! - BECAUSE your "cheap" foreign goods just funnels that over to the expense of "other" Americans. Be it through job loss, wage decrease, more taxes for infrastructure and/or subsidies. In the end the Tax payer picks up the bill for "cheap" foreign goods - a belief in "free" Trade is the same as any other "free" belief; someone still has to pick up the bill.

    Just look into USPS and the UPU and why America was so stupid as to subsidize foreign goods shipment while raising domestic costs to cover it.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "These other countries will never alter the deal they have with the USA without America standing up to them. "

    They'll never volunteer to alter it *to our benefit*, and we shouldn't expect them to.

    Deals are made through negotiation. Negotiation is done through leverage. The US has been unwilling to use its leverage *advantage*. Until Trump.

    America First.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    How do you abandon something you never had?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Yup.

    Reason does peddle that fantasy that the USA has something other than managed trade.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    I'm not sure that I've ever seen Reason claim that what we have is free trade. On the spectrum of trade from free to not, how can you argue that the tariffs don't shift us towards not?

  • sarcasmic||

    Trump is playing 37 dimension chess with regards to trade. By forcing Americans to pay more for foreign goods he's actually making foreign governments adopt American standards, creating a fair trade environment. You're just too stupid to see it because you're not a Republican.

  • Nardz||

    "By forcing Americans to pay more for foreign goods"

    Your implicit assumption is that price of foreign goods will necessarily be raised due to tariffs (higher costs). Is it impossible that prices wont rise because foreign companies want to retain their market share and conclude a slightly lower profit margin is worthwhile to maintain competitive advantage? Or are all these goods being sold at minimum profit?
    Tariffs merely create another variable in pricing, they don't absolutely determine it.
    Weird that all the resolute Ls here never mention the choice companies have to trade margin for market share.

  • sarcasmic||

    Is it impossible that prices wont rise because foreign companies want to retain their market share and conclude a slightly lower profit margin is worthwhile to maintain competitive advantage? Or are all these goods being sold at minimum profit?

    That's the same argument made by minimum wage proponents. Oh sure raising the price of labor won't cause prices to go up. Those rich people will just accept less profits.

    Yeah, sure.

  • Nardz||

    Great response.
    Completely irrelevant and avoided the topic of market share vs profit margin entirely, but full of spit and vinegar.

  • sarcasmic||

    The whole point of protective tariffs is to raise prices. That is their purpose. They are targeted taxes on goods that compete with domestic cronies. If they don't cause prices to go up then the cronies will complain until they do. That's the whole point. Jesus.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    If raising prices on imported goods helps protected industries, wouldn't prohibiting the import of those goods help protected industries even more? And if this works for protected industries, why not protect all industries- no imports of any kind allowed. Then we'll all be rich. Bwahahahaha.

  • 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed||

    "The whole point of protective tariffs is to raise prices. That is their purpose"

    No it isn't. If might be their result, but it often isn't the purpose.

  • Cyto||

    And nobody is eating a 30% tariff on the wholesale price. That would be suicide. How many goods have that much margin in them before retail markup? Heck, large manufactured goods like TV sets and washer/dryer units probably don't have more than 10% in there.

  • Libertymike||

    But, arguing that opposition to NAFTA, TTP, et al is, per se, anti-free trade is a load of rubbish.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The Republicans Abandon Free Trade

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    You could also say that Republicans Abandon Fiscal Responsibility. It doesn't mean that anybody thinks that we have it, just that the Republicans would often talk about it like a goal that they wanted to achieve. Much like "free trade"

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Lincoln was the first Republican president and since then the GOP has not adhered to a very limited and fiscally form of government like Libertarians (Classic Liberals). The GOP fiscal responsibility is better than Democrats since Democrats seem to not have spending restraints by themselves.

  • Mark22||

    On the spectrum of trade from free to not, how can you argue that the tariffs don't shift us towards not?

    China essentially runs much of its economy as slave labor. When you buy their stuff at deeply discounted prices, you're complicit in an act of aggression.

    A lot of trade in the US is so encumbered by regulations that effectively only well-connected corporations can engage in it who then profit handsomely; is it really "free trade" when only select groups of people can actually engage in trade?

    The point is: there is a difference between "less restricted trade" and "free trade" in the economic and libertarian sense.

  • sarcasmic||

    I see people making the claim that Chinese workers are slaves, but I haven't seen much to back it up. Not without moving the goalposts a bit. The claim equivocates cheap labor with involuntary servitude. They're not the same thing. Life in rural China sucks. People live a meager existence on self-sufficient farms. There is another word for being self-sufficient. It's called poverty. So millions and millions of Chinese have moved to the cities in search of a better life. They work in factories for shit wages, but to them it's better than life on the farm. They are no more slaves than the guy who makes your burger at McDonalds. Although many make the argument that people in low-wage jobs are slaves. But that is not honest. These people can quit. They are not literal property who face violence if they don't do as they are told. Sorry but these claims of Chinese slavery are somewhere between exaggerated and dishonest.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You think Chinese workers can just quit?

    China has managed society and a Communist safety net. Which equates to being told where to work. Working until you can't work anymore and then collecting a tiny pension that the government gives you. Since its Communism, you cannot own property nor have any assets the state does not allow you to have.

    Its not slavery....at...all.

  • sarcasmic||

    Sorry lc, but that's just not true. The reason why China's economy is booming is precisely because the government has stepped back from managing society, and has instead started to let markets work. That includes the labor market. Granted the people there are not as free as we are. Like, duh. But they're not slaves.

  • Cyto||

    They do frequently end up in dreary dormitories owned by the factory and working long hours with little control.

    A situation that can't continue indefinitely... as the population continues to rapidly accumulate wealth their middle class has surpassed the size of the entire US population, with those living in poverty quickly shrinking. (of course that's all relative.... when you have a billion plus folks, you can lift a crap ton of people from poverty and still have a huge pool to draw upon)

  • Mark22||

    The claim equivocates cheap labor with involuntary servitude. ... They are no more slaves than the guy who makes your burger at McDonalds.

    You are obviously completely ignorant of the authoritarian nature of the Chinese state and Chinese society, something that massively restricts the choice of Chinese about how they work or live. The benefits of unrestricted trade between the China and the US also don't go to the workers (as they would in a free market) but to well connected plutocrats. I would also argue that in the US, many people are treated as "slave labor": I am forced to pay more than half of my income in taxes, something that Lincoln used as the defining principle of slavery. The term "like slave labor" just is a shorthand for various massive violations of free labor markets.

    Now, how about you spare us your self-righteous indignation and instead explain how unrestricted trade between two countries that massively violate free markets in goods and labor has anything to do with libertarianism?

  • MJBinAL||

    Hmm, riigght.

    And those workers, living in dormatories at Foxconn, working under technically "illegal" conditions, jump off the building and commit suicide because they can leave any time they like?

    Does that really make sense to you?

    Back on "the farm" those workers were under similar conditions only in a rural setting. They came to the big city hoping to find things better. They can't even go back because to relocate in China it must be approved .... and it will not be approved.

    They are slaves, with the iron hand of government not making them do X, but rather making it impossible for them to do anything other than X. So they commit suicide.

  • BYODB||

    Of course, we're all taking it as read that the tariffs definitely don't have anything to do with trying to force China to lean on North Korea still right?

  • BYODB||

    Although, in fairness, not all of them can be considered in that light I'd agree. Trump is quite definitely wrong in general in terms of tariffs, although some are worse than others I'd say.

    The U.S. has over 12,000 tariffs right now today so shitting the bed over a few more might be silly although steel and aluminum in particular are an extra bad ideas since they're basic inputs for an economy rather than purely finished good.

  • ThomasD||

    "I'm not sure that I've ever seen Reason claim that what we have is free trade. "

    'Have.'

    Nice goalpost shifting.

    The discussion is about one party's principles. Reason is claiming they've abandoned that principle. But according to Reason's own standard on that principle, it's one that party has never possessed.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    How do you abandon something you never had?

    Wait are you talking about the Republicans' principles or free trade?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Both. The USA does NOT have free trade with any country.

    The Republicans have NEVER been for free trade.

    I am for free trade which is trade without costs that are not attributed by the market. The USA has managed trade deals and those deals are what Trump is trying to re-negotiate to get better deals for America.

    It might not work, but has so far. China is at the table discussing changes to managed trade.

  • Brandybuck||

    Trade is a spectrum. At one time the US was closer to the free trade end of that spectrum but now we are barreling towards the radical protectionist end of the spectrum.

  • Robert||

    When did the US have freer trade than now?

  • BYODB||

    Considering that for a large chunk of American history tariffs were the primary vehicle for funding the FedGov, this is a pretty valid question although I think the smart people are noticing that what Trump seems to want to do is move us closer to that end of the spectrum than towards 'more free' trade.

    It's not such a simple issue as many make it out to be.

  • Cyto||

    Is that what he wants? Or does he just want to "negotiate a better deal"?

    Hard to tell. Reading Trump's intentions is like reading the intentions of one of those wind up monkeys with the cymbals. You could claim that they are a metaphor or something, but how would you know if your interpretation was correct?

    Still, those bashing cymbals are so annoying that maybe someone will get up and go across the room to turn it off, even if it didn't have any meaning.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Managed trade is a spectrum. The spectrum goes from lightly managed to heavily managed.

    Free trade is absolute. Its either free trade or its not.

  • Mark22||

    Trade is not a spectrum, it's a haphazard collection of different policies that interact in complex ways with different economic and political systems.

    Libertarianism means no trade restrictions between free market economies with minarchist governments and equality for all participants. We're not going to get that any time soon.

    Republicans historically advocate managed trade between the US and other nations. They were never foolish enough to advocate the removal of trade restrictions with authoritarian, hostile, foreign regimes.

  • MJBinAL||

    Nonsense.

    The US, over it's history has had much more extensive protectionism, and was proud of it.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Wait, you mean a political party is bowing to...politics ? SAY IT AIN'T SO.

    *passes out from the vapors*

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    [tries to revive Iheartskeet with the smell of a freshy fired shotgun]

  • Citizen X||

    That's barely even a euphemism, and it might technically be a sex crime.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    I think a name like Iheartskeet is at least implied consent.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Gunpowder is truly my favorite smell.

    Ok, second favorite.

  • Jerryskids||

    Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men."

    Believe it or not, that wasn't something Jesus said last week at a press conference, he said this like literally a hundred years ago or something.

  • TxJack 112||

    Sorry, but this entire movement is a rejection of the establishment which has only benefitted the uber-wealthy and corporations. France, Germany, Japan and China all impose tariffs on US goods 2-3 times higher than we do on theirs because these "trade deals" agreed to them. Europe engages in rampant protectionism and China imposes huge tariffs for access to their markets. All of these countries have one thing in common. Their governments have tight control of their economy. Germany imposes huge tariffs on US goods. In addition, we still pay more than 1/2 the budget for Germany's defense under the NATO treaty. We also pay for almost all of Japan's defense because of treaties signed at the end of WWII. Free trade is not fair trade. The US has been taken advantage for decades because people like the Koch brothers reaped massive profits. All of them are screaming because suddenly we have a President who cares about what is good for the country, not just the elite and well connected.

  • Plow Horse||

    Trump is trying to make trade more fair to U.S. interests. Seems like a good idea to me, and many voters agree.

  • Brandybuck||

    ""Many of us have long surmised that the Republican Party stands for little more than low taxes, but at least it used to show some sort of commitment to free trade. Not anymore.""

    Tariffs are taxes. We now have the first Republican president and congress who are GLEEFULLY raising taxes as fast as they can get away with it.

  • sarcasmic||

    Tariffs on Chinese goods are taxes on the Chinese! Don't you get it? The people who are hurt are the Chinese! Americans benefit from these tariffs, and the Chinese suffer! Only stupid sympathizers think that Americans are hurt by tariffs! Tariffs don't cost us jobs! They create jobs! Jobs paid for by the Chinese who pay the tariffs! Ideally we would export everything and import nothing! We give the world stuff and they give us money! We'd be rich! Because money is wealth and stuff is just... stuff! Stuff is worthless! Money is the true source of wealth! Export everything and import money! Money, money, money! You don't get it because you're not a Republican! Trump is a Republican so he gets it! John gets it. lc gets it! All you need to do is register as a Republican and you'll get it too!

  • ThomasD||

    When Mexico raises tariffs on bourbon whiskey it's a tax on it's own citizens.

    When they put a tariff on american lager beer it's a tax on stupid Mexican citizens.

  • Cyto||

    I think your point is "it depends".

    If there are domestic and foreign producers of a good and the price differential is low, a tariff will just shift the market to the domestic producer. (Modelo in the Mexican beer example)

    When there is no domestic competitive market, prices will necessarily rise, and quality might suffer.

    Still, it would be ideal if everyone could compete on a level playing field.

  • Mickey Rat||

    This is a "seen and unseen" problem with trade. The benefits are diffuse and don't have an obvious connection to the policy. The damage is concentrated and has a glaring connection to the policy. We have had a voter revolt over this because the voters who have been harmed feel nothing has been done to mitigate the damage done to them by their own government's policies.

    Reason editorial stance favored Congress delegating its powers to the executive when it was considered that going through the normal procedures for ratifying treaties was a hindrance to its desired policy goals. It is a little late for takebacks now that their is an executive hostile to those past agreements.

    I am not sure yelling "cowardice" is an adequate, and more importantly, persuasive response to the political mood on free trade that has been festering for years.

  • Azathoth!!||

    But really, this all started during the presidential campaign, when Trump's constant railing against trade and trade agreements seemed to prod other Republican candidates, such as Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, to talk about "fair" trade (protectionism) as opposed to "free" trade.

    This is all exactly right--except for the part where they talked about how trade agreements were constructed in ways that were unfair to the US, and how those labeled 'free' trade agreements were the worst of the lot.

    Like 'liberal' was corrupted by the left, so, too has the concept of trade agreements. Current government based trade agreements are designed to quietly undermine American commerce throughout the world, to place us in agreements that are long on 'free' rhetoric, but short on any of the reciprocity that is a bastion of real free trade.

    And thus, we come to a sad development in Reason's transition to full-bore leftist drivel. De Rugy has succumbed. Clearly, there was a hidden vein of necrotic tissue that severed Veronique from sense.

    And the rot spreads.

  • scJazz||

    I almost completely agree with this part, "Reason's transition to full-bore leftist drivel". When Reason repeatedly runs articles like this one which are in complete agreement with China's state(d) public position (see what I did there :) ) along with a Topic on the Bilderberg agenda, then there is a problem. These tariffs and trade disagreements are not permanent. This isn't a protectionist stance. This is the opening phase of renegotiating unfair and lopsided trade agreements. Negotiations can not happen without conflict. Conflict begins when you make the other "team" hurt. Sure in the short term it is messy and painful. Trump (GOP) is not playing a short term quarterly profits game as has been practiced for 30+ years now. The game is long term. The goal is FREE TRADE, not screw America for your own benefit.

  • Robert||

    The problem is not Trump. It's not even the special interests, although they certainly exacerbate the problem.

    The problem is the fallacy of composition, because it persuades disinterested persons that trade surpluses are superior to trade deficits—of money. I don't even mean w.r.t. individual foreign countries, but overall. For an individual, making more $ than you're spending is a sign & predictor of prosperity, & a goal to be striven for until retirement. For an entire country (which of course never retires) it may be a sign & predictor, but not a goal. But people look at it & figure it's better for them as individuals, just playing the odds, to be part of a country that's selling more than it's buying. Therefore they aren't as skeptical as they would be toward most special interests when these demand help in selling more & buying less. So although mercantilism may not be adopted as a policy, it has its thumb on the scale to help protectionists, & does so at all times & places.

    Looked at more rationally, one would ask for reasons a country overall would be spending more than selling, & see if there were anti-economic factors contributing to that situation. There are—everywhere. All countries distort their economies in ways that hurt their own as well as their foreign biz.

  • buybuydandavis||

    We purchase disposable geegaws from the Dictator for Life of China, and purchases ownership=control us US assets.

    If you don't mind living in a company town of the Emperor of China, you won't have any problems with this situation.

  • Seamus||

    Historically, supporting tariffs was a GOP principle (see https://nyti.ms/2sP2vtt). It was really only in my lifetime that the Republicans became free-traders, so arguably they're just going back to their roots.

  • buybuydandavis||

    For more than a hundred years, the US funded the federal government through tariffs with a self consciously protectionist trade policy.

  • ThomasD||

    Don't give us your history lessons.

    How can Reason continue to write pants shitting headlines about how Trumplicans have abandoned something they never had in the first place if you keep doing that?

  • buybuydandavis||

    Are there any free market principles Reason won't abandon at the altar of their corporate masters?

    The Free Market Uber Alles, except...
    Corporate limited liability
    Government monopolies in "intellectual property"
    Differential tax treatment for wages and capital gains
    Tax on income instead of property
    Violation of Lockean Proviso

    A lot of rage against violations of the free market. Except when it helps those who Own over those who Labor.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Benjamin Tucker's critique of Herbert Spencer in 1884 applies to most Reason articles:

    It will be noticed that in these later articles, amid his multitudinous illustrations (of which he is as prodigal as ever) of the evils of legislation, he in every instance cites some law passed, ostensibly at least, to protect labor, alleviate suffering, or promote the people's welfare. He demonstrates beyond dispute the lamentable failure in this direction. But never once does he call attention to the far more deadly and deep-seated evils growing out of the innumerable laws creating privilege and sustaining monopoly. You must not protect the weak against the strong, he seems to say, but freely supply all the weapons needed by the strong to oppress the weak. He is greatly shocked that the rich should be directly taxed to support the poor, but that the poor should be indirectly taxed and bled to make the rich richer does not outrage his delicate sensibilities in the least. Poverty is increased by the poor laws, says Mr. Spencer. Granted; but what about the rich laws that caused and still cause the poverty to which the poor laws add? That is by far the more important question; yet Mr. Spencer tries to blink it out of sight.
  • buybuydandavis||

    Also, should people be able to "trade as they please" with foreign slave owners, such as the newly declared Dictator for Life of China?

    Is that what free markets are, outsourcing your initiation of force abroad?

  • ranrod||

    how has decades of your free trade love affected the US!

    HOW MANY MORE PREMATURE/UNCONSTITUTIONAL, THOUSAND PAGE DEALS DO YOU PEOPLE LOVE!!

  • swampwiz||

    It's one thing to argue that free trade is unfair because the labor wage rate in the offending country is low, and while that applies to China & Mexico, it certainly does not apply to the E.U. & Canada.

    if we're going to do rentier redistribution to the loser blue-collar men, why don't we just get on with it and do Guaranteed Income?

  • buybuydandavis||

    It's "redistribution" when it advantages labor, and "free market" when it advantages corporations.

  • jm15xy||

    Electorates change, so do stated principles.

  • MJBinAL||

    Republicans, and conseratives in particular, are NOT historically advocates of "free trade". The Republican support or "free trade" is a recent artifact not a long term historical position. In fact, the USA has, for most of it's history, used tariffs to fund the government, and to impliment industrial policy, often for very good reasons.

    First, as a provision for national security, it has until recently been understood that most goods have a military importance and as such must have healthy native production capability. This policy has been understood to include everything from steel to shoes, food to medication.

    Second, Up until the 16th amendment, tariffs were considered to least intrusive way to fund the national government. This had the laudible effect of restricting the funds available to the national government.

    There are arguments for "free trade". Unfortunately, most of them ignore the national security issues and artificially minimize the disruptive effect that can be created by the long term planning of foreign governments.

  • MJBinAL||

    For example, let us suppose for the sake of argument, that there is no illicit government action behing the low prices of Chinese steel (not true). Even so, over time as the ability to produce steel is lost in the USA, (and other nations), the Chinese government gains the abilty to cripple the US economy simply by radically constraining, or completely embargoing, steel deliveries. This kind of manufacturing requires large capital investment that precludes a rapid restart of that industry.

    What kind of domestic issues would be created in such circumstances? Would this not be likely to result in miltary action?

    While in the long view "free trade" is a laudable goal, I can't see the pursuit of it, in the face of mercantilist policies by other nations, as wise.

    In short, grow up and deal with the real world.

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