The Cult Of Free Trade
A great reminder for the free traders:
Against Free Trade
Rather than Fight for Overseas Empire, Rebuild Manufacturing At Home
For most of my adult life, I was a doctrinaire free trader. As a youthful disciple of Austrian economics, free trade was more than just an economic belief; it was a principle. Like most supporters of free trade, I relied on the fundamentally Ricardian analysis of free trade, which holds that free trade creates positive gain by allowing nations to specialize in areas where they have comparative advantage.
The book “Free Trade Doesn’t Work” by Ian Fletcher awakened me from my blind loyalty to free trade. Fletcher offers numerous theoretical and empirical rebuttals of free trade and explanations of why tariffs work.
Fletcher’s assault on Fortress Free Trade consists of five interlocking theoretical arguments and one empirical argument. He begins by undermining the assumptions at the foundation of Ricardian free trade theory.
Labor and Capital are Mobile.
Capital is Not Fungible.
Capital Investment Experiences Path Dependencies
Resources Get Depleted
Not Every Industry is Equally Good for the Population
Fletcher’s last argument is empirical, rather than theoretical.. It’s based on a close study of economic growth cross-indexed with economic policy. Using economic historical records, he makes a list of the nations in the world that have had the most remarkable economic growth, including the UK, US, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and China. He then divides them into two groups: the group that experienced hyper-growth from protectionist policies and the group that experienced hyper-growth from free trade policies. Here’s the list split into the two groups:
- Protectionist Success Stories: UK, US, Germany, Japan, South Korea, China
- Free Trade Success Stories: N/A
…Fletcher ends his book with exactly the sort of practical policy-making advice that Carey once gave to US presidents. Fletcher explains that that the best way for an economy to bring wealth to its people is by having an extensive manufacturing base that it protects against international competition with robust tariffs. He recommends every country focus on developing its capabilities in one or a few strategic manufacturing industries in which it aims to be world-class and capable of competing internationally. It seems to me the sort of audience that one might follow if one wanted to Make America Great Again.
A great article from the Tree of Woe. Give it a full read.
I have written about and plenty of others have also crafted extensive arguments against free trade. You simply cannot be a nationalist and a free trader. It’s one or the other. The same goes for a nativist and a free trader—You have to pick one.
If more of our libertarian and other free market dissidents would just read Ian Fletcher’s book, we could finally put free trade to rest. I have not yet met a single honest free trader that has actually read his book and not been converted, at least on the topic of completely unabridged free trade. Free trade nearly universally rests on the Ricardian theory, and Fletcher completely annihilates that theory from every angle.
But they won’t read it. They just ignore it, as they always do with competing information. The free trade god is too appealing, apparently.
Still, this argument should not even need a book to figure out the correct answer.
Anyone can just look around and see the failures of free trade with our own economic transition. How is globalism working out for us now, as China is becoming the dominant economic player and we are being flooded with millions of ethnically incompatible migrants? It’s not rocket science to figure out that this system is not working and will result in our own destruction; it just takes a pair of perceptive eyes willing to look around and be honest with what they see.
Free trade has been an unabridged disaster for the entire West.
So, while we do not need Fletcher’s theory, it is still a bonus to what common sense can show us if we just open our eyes.
Free trade is a globalist lie. Quit falling for it.
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