Comments: The subjectivity of "free trade"

Free Trade? We don't got no free trade!

Russ Roberts has taught me to admit that there are some losers from trade; no "Unicorns" to quote his favorite guest, Michael Munger. Perhaps we should mitigate harm to those affected.

But the net benefit from trade is so strong that Presidents should champion it and let the Representative from Youngstown, OH complain about the Chinese factories.

Posted by jk at November 21, 2016 3:50 PM

Nice article. And no, I'm not the least bit surprised that America's mixed economy and overreaching federal government currently impose over 370 "special protective duties on a wide range of products." Now, I don't recall candidate Trump suggesting that American trade policy was too free - what he said was that our "free trade agreements" benefit other nations more than the U.S. Perhaps if they were better we would not need as many "special" protective duties?

And who is responsible for this - not just the bad agreements, but the special duties? Not Donald Trump. Roughly one fourth of them have been instituted by the current administration, under President Barack H. Obama:

According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, the United States as of October 31 imposes 373 special protective duties on a wide range of products, more than 90 of which came in the last three years alone (i.e., since chart above on U.S. protectionism was produced)
Posted by johngalt at November 21, 2016 7:30 PM

We'll try this again - sounds like the topic is ripe for debate. One can sure be suspect about the TPP; 5600 pages and 30 chapters (written in secrecy) can only 'free' the lawyers billable timesheets is a good assumption. FEE's aritcle cited by JG is excellent, and I love the sidebars, like

TPP is about control not free trade, but WaPo says it's honkey-dorey.

HRC opposed it, but was that her public or private face?

Posted by nanobrewer at November 26, 2016 12:58 AM

Point of Order: nb, your longer comment is in the spam filter. I (or you) can "publish" it if you'd like (comments with more than one or two links ge flagged).

The trade agreement I'd like is "we'll trade with everybody for every thing with no tariffs!" The TPP, like virtually all trade agreements is a slobberload of mercantilist crap dressed up in a pretty bow. SO, I will be happy to pile on.

But.

When President Bush moved -- bravely -- to partial privatization of Social Security, do you remember where the libertarians and arch-conservatives were? A-F-WOL, that's where. "Shouldn't have Social Security at all!" "This is waaaay too little!"

A bad deal that gives you a little is better than no deal. If I believed for 40 nanoseconds that the opposition was entrenched to ensure freer trade, that would be one thing. But they are not -- they are lines up to get NO trade "Gonna make those goddam eye-Phones in Youngstown, by Union workers, we are!"

It's insincere but effective to bring a bootleggers and Baptists coalition together.

All moot now that Senator Smoot has been elected President.

Posted by jk at November 26, 2016 2:51 PM
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