This article is a perfect example of the kind of tactics employed by free trade cheerleaders. They cloak their real objective – stamping out what they call protectionist sentiment for a return to tariffs – in a call for tough action to “level the playing field.” They attempt to fool us into believing that their interest is in restoring a balance of trade when, in fact, their real interest is in protecting the positions that global corporations have established in foreign countries – protecting them from any potential backlash that might result from the imposition of tariffs by the U.S., the one and only action that has any hope of restoring a balance of trade. They acknowledge that free trade has gotten the U.S. into a terrible mess, yet the “solution” they advocate is even more free trade. Here are the key paragraphs:
The global reality is that free trade amongst countries rarely exists. Where free trade does exist is interstate commerce between our 50 states, where it has fueled our domestic economy.
We should therefore examine free trade at its purist. Why not have our Free Trade Agreements resemble the kind of trade that exists amongst the states? The U.S. Constitution forbids tariffs amongst states on any kind of product or service. All 50 states are under the same federal laws controlling banking, the environment, labor rights, safety standards and copyright and patent protection. All 50 states use the same currency, not subject to manipulation or devaluation. All 50 states are ultimately answerable to the Supreme Court.
Adopting these same standards would eliminate tariffs on manufactured and agricultural products and open up service markets and government procurement. Labor rights, safety standards, environmental protection, intellectual properties, and due process would all be protected and regulated. In short, the playing field would be leveled. They must be pursued vigorously and immediately.
This is the same tired approach that Congress has taken for decades: calling for worker and environmental protection, and look where it has gotten us: since 1976 our cumulative trade deficit stands at $9 trillion.
And the suggestion that we need to elevate free trade to the same level practiced between the 50 states is the same misguided thinking that got us into this mess in the first place. It was a key component of the logic used to turn the U.S. from its history of tariffs – tariffs that built the U.S. into the world’s preeminent industrial power – in the belief that we could do even better by turning the whole world into U.S.-like consumers.
It doesn’t work. It can’t work. Overpopulated nations can never become like us because of the effect that an excessive population density has on per capita consumption. The result of attempting to trade freely with such nations is that they get access to our healthy market while all we get in return is access to a market that has been emaciated by over-crowding and low consumption. The result is an automatic, irreversible trade deficit and loss of jobs. It’s economic suicide, as our experience since signing the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1947 has proven. The only effective remedy is the tariff structure on manufactured goods that I proposed in Five Short Blasts, a tariff structure indexed to population density.
Again, don’t be fooled by these kinds of tactics. Look deeply into the motives of the authors and their supporters. Be very, very suspicious of anyone promoting unbridled free trade. Is it really America they’re interested in, or their own bottom lines?