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Donald Trump and the End of Free Trade

The 1930 Smoot–Hawley Act was a policy disaster never to be repeated, says Dan Griswold of the Mercatus Center. Until now.

"Canada, Mexico, and China are the top three customers for U.S. exports," says Dan Griswold, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. So what are the top three countries President-elect Donald Trump wants to pick a trade fight with? "Canada, Mexico, and China."

Griswold, who's also the co-director of Mercatus' Program on the American Economy and Globalization, says he's "cautiously pessimistic" about what Trump will mean for U.S. trade policy. In a new Reason podcast with Nick Gillespie, he dispels some of the classic myths about free trade, such as that it's a major job killer (technological progress is the real culprit), and that trade deals such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and TPP establish systems of "managed trade" and thus should be opposed by "real" libertarians.

"These trade agreements have left us freer," he says, "and I think libertarians should support that."

For more, read Griswold's recent piece, "What the Trump Win Means for U.S. Trade Policy," on his blog, Mad About Trade.

Click below to listen to that conversation—or subscribe to our podcast at iTunes.

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  • See Double You||

    How much power does the President have to unilaterally alter free trade treaties? Otherwise, I don't believe Congress is full of protectionists.

  • Pan Zagloba "The Stickler"||

    He has a Pence and a phone. He can do it all!

  • ||

    I'm not so sure, protectionism is growing on the left too. It was a big part of Sander's platform. I'm hoping that the free traders can hold down the fort from both sides but putting faith in congress is futile effort. At a minimum if Trump means what he says we won't be making progress on free trade while he is in office.

  • Bgoptmst||

    I'm hoping that once his team crunches the numbers for real that Trump the businessman will realize what a horrible idea protectionism is.

  • thom||

    He'll have to explain it to his fans though, and he won't want to do that. The bulk of Trump voters, especially the poor ones in fly-over country, probably don't realize just how dependent they are on cheap Chinese goods to realize the lifestyle they're accustomed to.

  • MikeP2||

    That is nonsense. "cheap Chinese goods" have negligible impact on lifestyles in fly-over country.
    Are you even aware of what China imports???

  • MikeP2||

    You are assuming something about "the numbers" that may not work out the way you think it will work out.

    Just because free trade works out in balanced microcosms, does not mean it works out between radically unbalanced regulatory economies, let alone predatory crony governments

  • Microaggressor||

    (technological progress is the real culprit)

    Um, seriously? I guess the industrial revolution was a mistake because now we can't find jobs on subsistence farms.

  • The Hyperbole||

    Who's calling anything a mistake? I don't think he's going all Luddite, just simply pointing out the main cause of 'OMG Job Loss' ain't bad trade deals.

  • ||

    That's the way I read it also. It's just this simple, though, If we're going to make stuff in America, it's going to get more automated because otherwise, no one could afford the products. Those old mfg jobs are not coming back no matter what.

  • DarrenM||

    Displaced workers need to learn the skills for the new jobs, which is a pain. The problem is that things change so fast, a job can easily become obsolete by the time you learn those new skills. It can be frustrating. This is assuming you have the motivation to learn. If you are older and given the option of living off the government, you may choose to just go that route.

  • ||

    That's something I've often thought about. It's easy to sit here and say, "Fuck you, worker, you should have learned coding!" But things are changing faster now than they did before, and keeping up with it, coupled with the ridiculous emphasis on certs required by gov't at all levels, is really fucking people up. Most people can't afford 1,000 hours of bullshit expensive classes just to get a permission slip to do something.

  • The Hyperbole||

    Oh bullshit. name me one skill that is obsolete, and i'm talking skill here not just some specific activity. Over the last thirty years construction has changed, we have new products, better tools, and some things I once did on site are now done in the factory, yet the skills I use everyday are the ones I developed way back when, I just use those skills in different ways. Just because we now use trusses doesn't mean the guy who used to layout and cut rafters is now useless, his skills and talents are just employed elsewhere.

  • ||

    When you need state-issued permission slips to employ those skills, the specific activity matters very much.

  • ||

    Reminds me I need to make a donation to Institute of Justice before the end of the year.

  • The Hyperbole||

    That's a problem with red tape bullshit not changing job descriptions as DarrenM was claiming. Unless your skill happens to be jumping through the current regulatory hoops, then changing those hoops doesn't useless-ify your skills.

  • ||

    I very occasionally go to a seminar or actual class. But since graduating with my Compsci degree in 1997, I haven't gotten any other degrees or certs. And I've been constantly employed since even before my graduation. In fact, I have to turn clients away because I don't have time to do the work. Not sure what it's like in government employment, never been there and have no desire. But in the private sector, skill and experience is all that really matters.

  • fndr5||

    well, you're sort of correct, but you should be aware that the next iteration of tech is 3D printing houses and buildings. So, get ready.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: DarrenM,

    The problem is that things change so fast, a job can easily become obsolete by the time you learn those new skills.


    I completely and totally call BS on that one. Technological advancements actually make it EASIER to learn new skills because as things become more complicated technically speaking, their USE becomes LESS arcane.

    Take, for instance, the controls required to operate a steam engine like those that moved the machines in a 19th Century factory. Imagine the amount of CARE you would have to apply to that machine in terms of fuel, pressure, lubrication, timing, etc. Those skills are completely obsolete NOW yet there are still boilermaker trade unions in existence. Imagine the idea of protecting THOSE jobs...

    Now think about what today's automated machines and motor controls can do for you. You don't need to understand how an electric motor works, how a variable frequency drive works; none of that. You just PUSH a button that says "Start". What SKILLS do you need to learn to do that? Machines become MUCH SIMPLER to operate as technical advancements improve. So OF COURSE a worker can learn new skills very quickly; he is merely NOT GOING TO BE PAID what a BOILERMAKER used to get.

  • MikeP2||

    You are having a failure of perspective.

    Intellectually flexible humans can adapt to changing technology and acquire skills in a dynamic economy.
    However, that description applies to far less than 100% of the workforce.

    Skills absolutely become obsolete for a portion of the less flexible workforce. Many, perhaps a majority will adapt, but not all. Some of the workforce will be left behind with little options besides welfare or a menial unskilled job. Yes, a portion of the workforce will get screwed when changes occur. What, if anything, do we do as a society to help mitigate that?

    Preaching like that is BS and doesn't happen is childish and just shows a lack of understanding of the diversity of the world.

  • Pat (PM)||

    "These trade agreements have left us freer," he says, "and I think libertarians should support that."

    "TPP is good for the types of folks whose donations keep our payroll operating, so fuck you if you disagree with supranational environmental regulations and intellectual property courts."

    I mean, how much more freedom do you want? Fer chrissakes, we have South Park!

  • Christophe||

    TPP might fall on the bad side, but NAFTA?

    If all that Trump does is stop new trade deals from being signed we won't have much to complain about.

  • Cy||

    Free trade is AWESOME, if we're trading freely with countries of like personal rights and environmental protections. Otherwise, it's just exporting slave labor and pollution, while making the next generations pay for it.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    What are you talking about?

  • Cy||

    If we trade freely with Governments ran by Dictators and Tyrants forcing portions of their populations into slavery and destroying their environments while enriching themselves and undercutting foreign prices, does that not make us culpable in their actions?

    Or look at the flip side, if manufacturing jobs or service jobs leave our shores account of environmental laws, worker safety laws, child labor laws, minimum wage laws, etc... and we claim those laws are just, than why would they not be just in the country that the company takes them to?

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: Cy,

    If we trade freely with Governments ran by Dictators and Tyrants forcing portions of their populations into slavery and destroying their environments while enriching themselves and undercutting foreign prices, does that not make us culpable in their actions?


    If you worry about sin, ask a priest for absolution. I'm not willing to give up trade just to keep YOUR conscience happy. I don't know you nor do I care about you, the enslaved populations (a bullshit idea as it is) or whether the monetary policy of other nations is to inflate their currencies. I don't give one shit because it is not relevant.

    if manufacturing jobs or service jobs leave our shores [on] account of environmental laws [etc...] why would they not be just in the country that the company takes them to?


    Your beef is with government, then. Leave my trades alone.

  • Cy||

    I assure you, I don't give a shit about sin.

    Enriching our enemies through technology and trade is a terrible idea. There are massive population being taught that we're the enemy while we enrich them. Someday, those populations may turn on us violently. I'd say it's an argument of National Security.

    On a more long term personal vision, the more freedom that every person on this planet enjoys, the faster we as a species can progress. If the tyrants preventing populations from gaining their freedom are enriched through "free trade" they're a lot more likely to stay in power.

  • 0x90||

    This kind of thinking is why there's still a Castro in charge of Cuba. Ask yourself this: what if the US toppled said dictator -- what do you predict would happen next, if his people were then left to their own devices? Freedom springs from attitude, and a people can be ruled only to the extent that they allow it; if they are currently under a dictator, it is because they have not awoken and thrown him out, and it does no good to aid that dictator in isolating his people from the rest of the world, by cutting off trade.

    You could instead propose toppling the dictator and incorporating the country into the US, in order to then guarantee the civil rights of the country's people, but I don't think that likely to turn out well.

    So I think the least-worst option is to trade; not all of the profits will be skimmed, and it will be good for at least some of the people to have work they otherwise wouldn't have; on net, it will increase, not decrease, freedom and attitudes favorable to it, even if only by a small degree.

  • ||

    Nope, even unilateral free trade is better than protectionism.

  • Florida Hipster||

    I like the "No fair, China subsidizes X industry!" I say good, that means I don't have to subsidize it.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    Absolutely. Unilaterally.

    I hate TPP because it's a sham which pretends to be necessary and because it includes so much baggage which is its real reason for existence, like exporting US copyright, env and labor "protection".

  • MikeP2||

    That is an ignorant statement.

  • Jerryskids||

    What about the proposition that Trump's the same sort of "negotiator" Hillary is - i.e., when he starts making noises about interfering with free trade you just assume he means "Nice business you got here, be a shame if anything was to happen to it."

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: Jerryskids,

    What about the proposition that Trump's the same sort of "negotiator" Hillary is[...] "Nice business you got here, be a shame if anything was to happen to it."


    I certainly don't need the orange-hued monster to negotiate for me my trades.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Needing's got nothing to do with it. Deserving's more appropriate.

  • SIV||

    trade deals such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and TPP establish systems of "managed trade" and thus should be opposed by "real" libertarians

    You can't have true free trade without hundreds of thousands of pages of rules and regulations meticulously hammered out by hundreds of Top Men addressing the concerns and revenue streams of all the better sort of public and private stake-holders.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: SIV,

    You can't have true free trade without hundreds of thousands of pages of rules and regulations [...]


    Understood, it is not pure and perfect free trade but it is nonetheless freer trade than before the ratification of NAFTA and joining GATT. What the author is saying is that the rhetoric coming from El Trumpo is definitively anti-trade and reminiscent of Smoot-Hawley, Juche and Mercantilism.

  • MikeP2||

    "What the author is saying is that the rhetoric coming from El Trumpo is definitively anti-trade and reminiscent of Smoot-Hawley, Juche and Mercantilism."

    "Reminiscent"....yeh, the classic whine word. Until we hear specifics, it is stupid to rant and complain in absolutes.

    Mexico and Canada have both been very receptive to modernization of NAFTA. That is a positive sign.

    Maybe, just maybe, trade will get freer. Until we hear specifics, perhaps people like the author should stop acting like a teenager who lost his xbox for a week.

  • ||

    So called "managed trade" is still superior to protectionism, even if it is inferior to free trade.

  • R C Dean||

    It depends on what else is smuggled into the "trade" deal in those thousands of pages and the multinational bureaucracy. One thing they can do is "require" regulatory harmonization to "level the playing field". Guess what harmonization never seems to do? That's right, require deregulation.

    There is spectrum from Nork-style closed markets, and free trade. Protectionism is what part of that spectrum, managed trade is another. Whether one is freer than the other is not a given, I don't believe. Just like licensing can turn into a de facto ban (in fact, it is a ban wrapped in a bureaucracy), I'm not so sure that managed trade isn't basically protectionism wrapped in a bureaucracy.

    I don't know, but I also don't assume.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: R C Dean,

    One thing they can do is "require" regulatory harmonization to "level the playing field".


    None of that is in dispute. What is in dispute is the notion that trade per sé is what destroys jobs and thus must be "negotiated" in a way that protects said jobs. That can only be understood to mean "regardless of their economic viability."

  • ||

    Obviously it depends on what strings are attached but a reduction in tariffs is a very valuable thing to be weighed against.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I'd rather have tariffs than an income tax.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    Not with all that included baggage. TPP is horrible in that respect which far outweighs any trade benefits. Also remember that TPP is designed to exclude and gang up on China.

  • gaoxiaen||

    +1 Nazi IBM

  • Mr Lizard||

    Ya if I can't read it and my duly elected representatives can't read it than fuck you.

    Until I can read it and more importantly the Internet can critique it (including the cocktail party wannabes here):

    TPP=Certain notable Austrian gentleman

  • AlmightyJB||

    The Terminator?

  • widget||

    I bought some submersible level transmitters on ebay a couple months ago directly from China. It's ok to buy stuff from China now. That wasn't always the case. The instruments are exact duplicates of those I could buy from from US OEM, AST, which also be made in China. Most Allen Bradley and GE equipment is also made in China or Singapore.

    There's a problem with Asians coping US technology and there's another problem with Asians finely machining this equipment and soldering the electrical connections together toot sweet.

    We already went through 1970's Detroit cars. What' up with trade protectionism? I think there will be a dent in quality.

  • GamerFromJump||

    The problem becomes, what happens when no one bothers to start up anymore because of the inevitable theft?

  • gaoxiaen||

    They stopped making 65 GTO's.

  • widget||

    I bought some submersible level transmitters on ebay a couple months ago directly from China. It's ok to buy stuff from China now. That wasn't always the case. The instruments are exact duplicates of those I could buy from from US OEM, AST, which also be made in China. Most Allen Bradley and GE equipment is also made in China or Singapore.

    There's a problem with Asians coping US technology and there's another problem with Asians finely machining this equipment and soldering the electrical connections together toot sweet.

    We already went through 1970's Detroit cars. What' up with trade protectionism? I think there will be a dent in quality.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    What' up with trade protectionism? I think there will be a dent in quality.

    I am sure that's part of the deal, the reason so many domestics scream for protection: they don't want to compete. They want the better quality products to disappear so they can continue without change.

  • The Lone Loner||

    There was a pamphlet once, from Hong Kong, that said something like, "No tariffs, no quotas, no exceptions," (not an exact quote, but that was the general idea of it, anyway). I want cronyism gone, gone, gone. And take populism with it.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yes, we don't even need trade deals at all. Just unilaterally end all tariffs and subsidies on our side. If other countries want to keep taxing their consumers, that's their business. You want to help US businesses. Eliminate corporate taxes and unnecessary regulations.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I say tax corporations only with no personal income tax. Let the companies fight about taxes and leave the individual alone. Corporations have the means to fight tax increases, especially if they band together. Then consumer resistance to price increases becomes the motivator.

  • gaoxiaen||

    That's just common sense. It's just not common enough.

  • BYODB||

    Wait, we have free trade? What about those 12,000+ tariffs on the books today? Is it going to be worse? Not sure how that'll come to pass, but would we even notice?

    Also, last I checked most of what we send Mexico is food. I'm too lazy to look up the other two at the moment. I'm not saying this won't suck terribly, but what free trade are we really talking about here?

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: BYODB,

    Wait, we have free trade? What about those 12,000+ tariffs on the books today?


    They're there because Unions and special interest groups are still not interested in freer trade.

    Also, last I checked most of what we send Mexico is food.


    And tools. And cars. And engines. And electronic sensors, PLCs, gears, scrap iron, computers, televisions, tires - used and new, rims, hydraulic valves, hydraulic cylinders, pneumatic valves, pneumatic cylinders, connectors, fittings, plastic tubing, airplane spare parts, tractors, GPS sensors, phones, movies, TV shows....

    I used to work for a reseller back in the 90s. Mexico imports a LOT of shit from the US.

  • BYODB||

    Hence why I said 'most' instead of 'all'. As in the majority of goods sent there are food, which was true a few months ago.

    Their #1 export to us, as I recall, was machinery.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: BYODB,

    Actually, Mexicans and Americans trade machinery AND agricultural goods both ways. Just not the same kind.

    Exports from US to Mexico
    The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2015 were: machinery ($42 billion), electrical machinery ($41 billion), vehicles ($22 billion), mineral fuels ($19 billion), and plastics ($17 billion).

    U.S. exports of agricultural products to Mexico totaled $18 billion in 2015, our 3th largest agricultural export market. Leading categories include: corn ($2.3 billion), soybeans ($1.4 billion), dairy products ($1.3 billion), pork & pork products ($1.3 billion), and beef & beef products ($1.1 billion).

    Imports from Mexico to US
    The top import categories (2-digit HS) in 2015 were: vehicles ($74 billion), electrical machinery ($63 billion), machinery ($49 billion), mineral fuels ($14 billion), and optical and medical instruments ($12 billion).

    U.S. imports of agricultural products from Mexico totaled $21 billion in 2015, our 2nd largest supplier of agricultural imports. Leading categories include: fresh vegetables ($4.8 billion), other fresh fruit ($4.3 billion), wine and beer ($2.7 billion), snack foods ($1.7 billion), and processed fruit & vegetables ($1.4 billion).

    https://ustr.gov/countries-regions/americas/mexico

  • gaoxiaen||

    You fail to mention dope.

  • ||

    televisions,

    I didn't know TVs were made in the US these days.

  • AlmightyJB||

    This is a guy who loves nothing more than doing deals. While his rhetoric has been discouraging, I'm not all that concerned yet. Trade is not going anywhere. It's larger than Trump. Potentially a slow down or stall on new trade deals but taking it slow is not necessarily the worst thing. I certainly might be wrong but I'm not going to get all worked up until Trump proves me so. I think his bark is probably going to be worse than his bite.

  • ||

    We can certainly hope so, but there is no reason to stop criticizing protectionist rhetoric in the meantime.

  • AlmightyJB||

    True, but we also don't need to be overly dramatic with our headlines either. I suppose I should just expect that going forward.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Re: AlmigthyJB,

    This is a guy who loves nothing more than doing deals.


    Irrelevant.

    Trade is not going anywhere. It's larger than Trump.


    Of course it is. No one can go against the Laws of Economics. But the problem is that El Trumpo has enough political clout to hinder trade to the point of creating an economic crisis for which Capitalism will certainly be blamed. Thus his rhetoric, political appointees and proposed policies are, with good reason, subject to criticism from those of us who *know* actual fucking economics.

  • AlmightyJB||

    And I'm not against the criticisms, just the dystopian headline. All of the pants shitting headlines are getting old. I've certainly been critical of his appointees so far.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    [H]e [Griswold] dispels some of the classic myths about free trade, such as that it's a major job killer (technological progress is the real culprit)[...]


    I would argue that jobs aren't being killed at all. In the first place, the notion that jobs are "destroyed" stems from a belief in permanence, but a job is merely a service someone is providing. And like any other service, the provider can switch from one type of service to another easily. In the second place, what IS being "destroyed" is the business, in any case, because of many reasons, among them: changing tastes, changing preferences, comparative advantage, competition, and yes, technological advancement. There is also frictions between the Market and the State. But jobs per sé are not being destroyed.

    But TRADE, EXCHANGE, is the VERY ENGINE of the economy. We of course produce in order to consume, which is the ultimate result; a job is merely a means to an end. However it is TRADE which allows each of us to become much more productive with out TIME since we don't have to build everything we need from scratch. That's not only exceedingly difficult; without a big enough population and without division of labor, it would be impossible, not without living in near starvation every moment. It is TRADE which motivate each of us to produce SOMETHING, be it services or goods. To eschew trade is to eschew economic activity - PERIOD.

  • AlmightyJB||

    It's taxes and regulations that kill jobs.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I, Pencil. You , dildo.

  • WillMG||

    Thousands of pages of legalese full of set asides sure as shit isn't free trade.

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Of course it is not pure and perfect free trade, but El Trumpo's rhetoric against these trade deals is clearly founded on the notion that trade PER SE is "bad for jobs".

  • Ken Shultz||

    Donald Trump is flat out wrong in his rhetoric in on free trade.

    That being said, if he wants to negotiate a better deal, then let's wait to see what that deal is.

    The press loves to focus on what people say, but negotiations aren't about going in broadcasting what you're willing to settle for. There's all kinds of regulation and non free trade-capitalist horseshit in NAFTA and GATT.

    Here's an article about where Ron Paul stood on "free trade agreements", why he opposed NAFTA, etc.

    http://citizen.typepad.com/eye.....or-fr.html

  • Suicidy||

    You're right. We should wait and see what he actually wants to do before condemning it.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Jeff Sessions? I disagree.

  • Suicidy||

    You're right. We should wait and see what he actually wants to do before condemning it.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    Donald Trump is flat out wrong in his rhetoric in on free trade.

    So far, I have only heard him oppose existing "free trade deals", none of which are actually "free trade".

    You couldn't get an actual free trade deal through Congress, so his position on actual free trade pretty much doesn't matter.

  • Pan Zagloba "The Stickler"||

    So this popped up on my feed

    U.S. president-elect Donald Trump released a video on Monday laying out actions he will take on his first day in office on Jan. 20, including withdrawing the United States from a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

    Is US in the TPP? Has Senate hasn't ratified it, right?

    Also, reported agenda is not 100% terrible. Which may be best to hope for.

    ​Trump also said he would issue a rule cutting government regulations, direct the Labour Department to investigate abuses of visa programs, and cancel some restrictions on energy production, including shale oil and gas and coal.
  • I can't even||

    So we are pretending we didn't have tariffs before 1930?

  • gaoxiaen||

    Stamp Tax Act, Marijuana Tax Act, Harrison Act, EPA, etc...

  • Sevo||

    "Donald Trump and the End of Free Trade"

    "Nevertheless, a word of neighborly advice to our more genteel media friends, the ones who sit at the high table in their pristine white dinner jackets and ball gowns. You've been barfing all over yourselves for a week-and-a-half, and it's revolting to watch.
    [...]
    What kind of president will Trump be? It's a tad too early to say, isn't it? The media are supposed to tell us what happened, not speculate on the future. But its incessant scaremongering,..."
    http://nypost.com/2016/11/20/k.....al-crisis/

    Yeah, Nick, that'd be you.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    that trade deals such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and TPP establish systems of "managed trade" and thus should be opposed by "real" libertarians. "These trade agreements have left us freer," he says, "and I think libertarians should support that."

    When a bunch of people get selective exemptions from tariffs, that's rent seeking and corruption.

    You're free to try to argue that those trade deals are still economically beneficial "to society", but to call them "free trade deals" is a lie, as is the claim that such corruption "leaves 'us' freer".

  • gaoxiaen||

    Headline: Lobbyists Hardest Hit.

  • MikeP2||

    yup

  • UCrawford||

    Well, I stopped back in to see if the Reason cosmotarians had regained their sanity after the election and to see if they'd done any reporting about California's reported $127 billion debt, but it appears the anti-Trump hysteria is still going strong and all of the headlines are still shrill virtue signalling about the horrors of Trump and how he must hate trade.

    Thanks, Reason...it was a fun decade I spent reading your publication, but I think our time together is at an end unless you make serious changes on your end. Oh, and it's not me...it's definitely you.

  • QueerLib||

    Goodness, you Trumpkins are such delicate little princesses, aren't you? Mere criticism of GOP statism gives you the vapors.

    Reason has rather extensively covered California's financial meltdown.

    A magazine whose subtitle is "Free minds and free markets" is also going to critique big government candidates (such as your God Emperor) who have horrible statist anti-free-market trade ideas.

    If you can't deal with that, I suggest you run along to your safe space at one of the Alex Jones web sites before you faint and get mud all over your pretty pink dress.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Sucking statist cock is still very lucrative.

  • tommhan||

    "Free trade" does not necessarily mean "fair" trade. You cannot compete with people paying dollars a day vs dollars an hour. Many millions entered the middle class through production employment and that is one reason the middle class is decreasing.

  • MikeP2||

    yup. But don't say that stuff around here or you'll get flamed by a half dozen libertarians that can't grasp the full pictures with cries of "screw you Trumpkin statist"

    It is impossible to have free trade between a high regulation state and a low regulation state. Cost of business is significantly different and completely repudiates the "free trade" argument which only works when the playing field is flat.

  • QueerLib||

    "Flat playing field" is the populist equivalent of "common sense gun control" -- a meaningless cliche sputtered in defense of a failed ideology (protectionism and gun confiscation, respectively).

  • MikeP2||

    nice ignorance you got going there. have fun with that.

  • QueerLib||

    So in other words, the part of American society that is world-class and competitive should be constrained and held back in order to benefit the indolent non-competitive parts that seek to use force to keep the gravy flowing.

  • Brian Whittle||

    I'm all for free trade as long as all partners play fair and there are protections if they don't. That said it's got to be done in the open and not in secret behind closed doors.

  • QueerLib||

    "Fair" is a kindergarten concept. It doesn't exist in the real world.

  • MikeP2||

    I think most people can define what fair is and isn't. shame you can't understand a simple concept.

  • Harun||

    If China wants to prevent this, its really very simple:

    Unilaterally lower their tarriffs against US products, and set up some high visibility import deals.

    China did that with Taiwan. They sent over buying groups to buy Taiwanese products to sweeten their image.

    Lowering tarrifs is more free trade, and will help China.

    I know its fashionable to bash Trump as a non-free trader, but China is sitting there on 20% tarrifs for American-made cars, for example. Why?

    They are allowed to do that because way back in the 80's and 90's people assumed these poor countries would be at a disadvantage in trade, and thus they actually go perks!

    Well, its 2016 and China is no longer at a disadvantage. There is no reason China needs to protect its fledgling industries, demand joint ventures, or have the state push companies to buy domestically.

    China actually is fairly stupid about trade. They mainly believe in mercantilism - they are not really big free traders.

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