Free Trade

The Free Trade Dream of the '90s Is Dead

Also: This is your last chance to ask The Reason Roundtable co-hosts anything!


The Reason Roundtable podcast quartet of Nick Gillespie, Peter Suderman, Matt Welch, and Katherine Mangu-Ward are taking your questions for a special bonus-cast to be aired during our annual Webathon, which begins tomorrow. Please email any/all queries, for the group or for an individual, to, and we shall do our best to address them.

Addressed on today's edition: President Donald Trump's latest tariff lunacies vis-à-vis Brazil and Argentina, and what they tell us about the current and previous administrations, as well as the broader currents in global opinion about trade, immigration, and multilateral institutions. As is the custom, the co-hosts have…different opinions. Other questions discussed: Which Democratic presidential candidate will drop out next? Is Ted Cruz's beard hot or not? How many four-letter words can one fit in a negative review of The Irishman?

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

Music credit: "White Hats" by Wayne Jones

Relevant links from the show:

"New Tariffs Scheduled for December 15 Won't Pressure China Into Making a Deal. Trump Should Cancel Them," by Eric Boehm

"Trump's Farm Bailout Has Cost Over $10 Billion This Year," by Eric Boehm

"Bryan Caplan Says Milton Friedman Is Wrong About Open Borders," by Katherine Mangu-Ward

"Trump Weaponizes the Bureaucracy Against Naturalized Citizens," by Shikha Dalmia

"Kamala Harris 2020 Staffer Says She Never Saw Campaign Staff Treated 'So Poorly,'" by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Martin Scorsese Is a Grumpy Old Fart—and Wrong About the State of 'Cinema,'" by Nick Gillespie

"Reviews: The Irishman and Terminator: Dark Fate," by Kurt Loder

"Who Am I?" by Reason staff

"Support Reason While Doing Your Amazon Holiday Shopping," by Katherine Mangu-Ward

"The Reason Podcast Is Now 3 Great New Podcasts. Subscribe!" by Katherine Mangu-Ward

NEXT: Fox's Judge Napolitano: "Evidence of [Trump's] Impeachable Behavior...Is Overwhelming"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. As a Koch / Reason libertarian, my dream is to live in a country with unlimited, unrestricted immigration and no minimum wage. With Drumpf’s failure to implement either of these policies, it’s no surprise our economy is in ruins.

    Fortunately the Democratic Party is rapidly embracing open borders, so our immigration laws will be fixed by the next President in 2021. Ideally that President will also set a nationwide minimum wage of $0.00 / hour. However even if that doesn’t happen, the increased levels of immigration will certainly improve our economy — and boost Charles Koch’s net worth, which is what really matters.


    1. Shut up, socialist! We’ve still been having massive immigration and low minimum wage in most states, and the economy’s doing fine, partly THANKS to that.

      Only a moron thinks billionaires really feel any differences in their living standards by how wages around them are.

      Once the other Koch dies, I wonder who’s gonna be your next billionaire boogeyman.

      1. Hahaha!! Fooled you!

    2. “As a Koch / Reason libertarian, my dream is to live in a country …”

      Libertarian poseur.

      A real Koch / Reason libertarian dreams of living in Kochland, a Koch Industries private community.

      Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do.

  2. the fuck does Scorsese think he is telling people how not to watch his movies?

    1. Scorsese’s smart! Not dumb like everyone thinks!

      1. I don’t want to watch *anything* on my phone … except The Irishman now out of spite

        1. This Irishman movie is pure nostalgia shlock. I don’t get the hype. It should have been done as a documentary without all the septuagenarians hopped up on member berries.

    2. Eh, he’s not the first. Tarantino made a stink about film vs digital, and some guy named Lucas wouldn’t sell anything except the edited directors cut.

      1. And Lucas probably thinks nobody noticed that Red Tails was just Star Wars (Episode 4) with black actors.

        Seriously. I’m surprised there weren’t X-wings on the tarmac.

        1. thanks for saving me the time. or do i now want to see if you’re correct?

          1. Not worth the time, but –

            Remember Luke being chased by Vader with 2 Tie Fighters alongside him? You’ll see the German equivalent of Vader in an ME-262, with 2 ME-109s on his wings. (In the beginning of the movie, he’s also in a 109; I guess he just hopped from their oldest fighter to a jet).

            There’s a cantina scene. Seriously.

            Pilot trapped in the cockpit of a mustang with burning fuel all over him – “well, he’s gonna make it…”

            Lots of hotdog BS that no fighter pilot would do. I’ve actually met 2 of the original airmen. They were absolute professionals.

            The Tuskeegee Airmen with Andre Braugher is much better.

            1. >>The Tuskeegee Airmen

              *this* was good.

              1. Fun fact – Cuba Gooding is in both films.

  3. “The Free Trade Dream of the ’90s Is Dead”

    When is the last time the U.S. had free trade ?
    Never ?

    1. They must be referring to the 1790s

      1. Nah, that was during a dismal time when the entire Federal government ran off tariffs which are the most evil thing ever.

        1. Well, they were partly responsibly for the Civil War, not to mention the economic sluggishness of the time, with only a few monopolies dominating certain industries.

  4. “The Free Trade Dream of the ’90s Is Dead”

    And that’s all it ever was… a dream.

    Aside from a few multinationals gaining the ability to move their operations to wherever the cheap labour was, no actual free trade occurred. Certainly not for the plebs who got hit with higher and higher duties.
    Now even the first part is moot, because eliminating boarders means the cheap labour comes to them instead, and everybody who disagrees is racist.

  5. Because Ross Perot certainly didn’t exist in the 90’s…

    Maybe libertarians pretend he didn’t exist because he actually ran a more successful campaign than they ever have. I’m forced to note that a list of ‘most successful 3rd party runs’ includes the reform party but does not include any libertarian.

    1. best. chart. ever.

      1. lol, indeed.

        While I’d be the first to point out that Perot didn’t win, I’d also note one of his specific policy issues was NAFTA. Thus, a guy in the 90’s running as a third party out did the entire libertarian establishment running against NAFTA.

        Seems notable when talking about the 90’s and ‘free trade’ and is probably still relevant today when considering voter sentiment toward managed trade deals. It also could serve to explain Trump, at least in part.

        1. he also didn’t lie to me about raising taxes or molest half of Arkansas.

          1. Fair point in retrospect.

  6. “President Donald Trump’s latest tariff lunacies”

    “Journalism” at its finest. Did anyone refer to a single one of Barry’s policies with a “lunacy” modifier?

    1. Obama was directly responsible for the strongest 8-year run in US economic history. There was no need to describe his policies that way.


      1. #IMissObama

        Is that how he identifies now?

        1. those jeans … on that bike …

      2. “Obama was directly responsible for the strongest 8-year run in US economic history”
        Sometimes OBL is brilliant.

  7. We didn’t have a lot of free trade before. We were constantly getting sued by South American Farmers due to our subsidies to domestic farmers, but we just paid out shut-up money to those countries suing.

  8. The “free trade dream” ever only consisted of one way tariff-free imports into the US in order to enrich a small elite.

    None of the so-called defenders of “free trade” or “open borders” have ever actually worked towards free trade or open borders.

    1. Unfortunately for Libertarians, most of the world’s population is distinctly anti-libertarian and find the idea of open borders even more hilarious than we do.

      And, as a continually fascinating missed bit of factual information borders have two sides yet they only ever talk about immigration.

      Well, where is my right to emigrate into Iran without restriction?

      The biggest irony is this is exactly what Neo-Con’s talk about all the time. You know, going to war with other countries to force them to respect our version of rights?

      Hilarious lack of intelligence on the part of a party that believes itself to be intellectually superior, in my view.

    2. ^^^ EXACTLY THIS!!!

    3. They enriched more than a small elite. Everyday Joes benefit from it whenever they buy something at a lower price. And who’s this small elite anyway?

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  10. Let the joyous news be spread
    The wicked old witch at last is dead!

    Globalist tears are more delicious than Leftist tears.

    1. Buy American-made-only products and see how much you’re gonna be saving at the end of each month.

      1. *slurp*

        So tasty!

  11. Great explanation of one of the benefits of free trade from Peter.

    1. Yes, but free trad3 under all circumstances is suicidal. China and others dump super low priced stuff on our market, causing domestic industries to shut. Then we are dependent on the Chinese for stuff – they have leverage and LeBron et al bend over and mouth Marxist bs and directors censor themselves. Our dynamic free market deteriorates along with our liberty.

      Happy now?

      1. They don’t “dump” anything. The only reason their products work here is because your fellow consumers (and that’s mostly the poorer ones) find the Chinese crap to be a better deal for their more modest purses. If people didn’t find Chinese products to be better alternatives, they wouldn’t have bought them as much, and they wouldn’t be faring as well.

        And yes, other industries shrink shut down, and their labor and capital gets diverted into more productive endeavors. That’s how wealth is created. That’s how capitalism works, and has always worked ever since people found cheaper (i.e. “Chinese” type) ways to produce the same agricultural stuff. So lots of “agriculture industries” shut down and the resources were diverted to fulfilling other needs and wants of the market. And thank God for that.

        1. They, “find the Chinese crap to be a better deal” BECAUSE it’s been subsidized by previous “free trade” negotiations. Stealing half or more of the costs from the federal treasury doesn’t instinctively make it, “a better deal” in the collective sense.

      2. We’re not dependent on the Chinese for anything. It’s like saying you should be buying your stuff from more expensive Company A because you don’t want to be dependent on cheaper Company B. It’s stupid. If Company B goes away, you’ll just go to Company A. Same for Chinese products. If they go away for some reason (tariffs, China gets nuked, goes communist again, whatever), then people will just go back to buying roughly the same products from other, more expensive providers.

    2. “Free trade means muh freedom to profit from offshore slave labor.”

  12. Why does Nick always sound like he’s ranting?

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