MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘free trade’

Where is the “Free” part?

Posted by M. C. on December 22, 2019

“Free trade”, “requires”, “prohibits”. Any agreement longer than this post is not “free”.

Everytime there is a requires or prohibits someone is making out and the rest of US are getting screwed.

From Voterama in Congress
Setting New Rules for North American Trade: Voting 385-41, the House on Dec. 19 passed a bill (HR 5430) giving congressional approval to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which would replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as the framework for commerce among the three countries. The agreement requires Mexico to guarantee workers the right to join unions and engage in collective bargaining; authorizes fast-track probes of labor violations in Mexico and factory-specific penalties when transgressions are found; gives U.S. dairy and poultry farmers and to a lesser extent winemakers more access to Canadian markets; raises environmental standards but does not address climate change; reduces patent protections for certain pharmaceuticals; sets wage requirements that benefit U.S. and Canadian auto factories over Mexico’s; prohibits duties on digital products; and protects Internet companies against liability for their users’ content. A yes vote was to pass the bill. Kelly: Yes. Thompson: Yes.

Be seeing you

Thing you shouldn't do over the age of 30

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The Benefits of Free Trade Are Canceled Out by Domestic Interventionism

Posted by M. C. on December 6, 2019

What no one recognizes is that the common reason for the breakdown of world economic relations is the combination of interventionist domestic policies and government-led, top-down, faulty trade integration, which serves only interest groups and is subject to perverse incentives.

https://mises.org/wire/benefits-free-trade-are-canceled-out-domestic-interventionism?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=c869db6738-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-c869db6738-228343965

Foreign policy commentators live in their own bubble. The WTO’s credibility is gone and its survival uncertain due to its lack of impact on world trade over the last two decades. A China vs. USA trade war is still growing and the economic community of European states is in its worst-ever shape. Yet no one stops to wonder if all these failures have anything to do with the kind of economic integration they propose. In fact, the media is now childishly excited about the ASEAN-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a Trans-Pacific Partnership surrogate many years in the making.

What no one recognizes is that the common reason for the breakdown of world economic relations is the combination of interventionist domestic policies and government-led, top-down, faulty trade integration, which serves only interest groups and is subject to perverse incentives. The positive effects of inter-governmental multilateral trade agreements are minor at best. Their negative effects, however, such as stifling global trade, diversion of trade flows, or increasing red tape, have been growing at an alarming rate.

Trade agreements have thus become obsolete tokens of negotiation in larger geopolitical disputes, protectionist tools for managing and interfering with global trade flows. RCEP’s tentative provisions serve as a great illustration of the adulteration and vitiation of trade deals. For example, RCEP would allow and encourage poorer members to “proceed cautiously and gradually in lowering tariffs on manufactured goods… [over] adjustment periods of up to 25 years” (The Economist, 2019). However, it is precisely the poorer members of such agreements who benefit from reducing their tariffs to zero. According to Mises (1990), “their own policies are the main obstacle to any improvement and economic progress. There cannot be any question of imitating the technological procedures of the capitalistic countries if there is no capital available. Whence should this capital come if domestic capital formation as well as the inflow of foreign capital are sabotaged?”

RCEP would also allow India to “impose some sort of ‘safeguard’ tariffs if imports surged too sharply” (The Economist, 2019). In other words, India could easily withdraw their already weak commitment to this economic partnership without incurring any direct consequences — allowing them to have their managed trade cake and eat it too. However, despite this mollification, India remained reluctant to commit and Narendra Modi refused to sign the current draft agreement, citing the trade deficit with China, the danger to Indian farmers, Ghandi, and his own conscience.

Lastly, the text of the RCEP is littered with “non-committal phrases… [such as] “members shall endeavour to” rather than “members shall’” (The Economist, 2019). As The Economist argues, “in these sort of agreements do and do not are not the only options. There is plenty of “try” (The Economist, 2019). But no rose-colored glasses can make free trade anything but a black and white issue. To reference Yoda again, this is why you fail. Either trade is entirely free, and thus works to bring about prosperity and economic growth, or it is government-managed, thus not free, and bound only to bring about more intervention and economic distortions. In matters of economic freedom, there is no try.

Preparations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership are now 8 years old and 30 negotiation rounds have already taken place. A fantastic leap of faith is necessary to imagine that, once signed, this agreement will have any beneficial impact, or will indeed be managed efficiently. A leap of faith that should be impossible for any minimally informed and honest commentator. Sadly, much like true free trade agreements, there are few such left.

Be seeing you

Washington Monthly | Free Trade Is Dead

 

 

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How the World Views Libertarianism | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on September 12, 2019

https://mises.org/wire/how-world-views-libertarianism

Ask ten libertarians for a definition of libertarianism, and one is likely to receive about ten different answers.

Indeed, libertarians have something of a reputation for internecine battles over who the “real” libertarians are.

Most of the world, however, couldn’t possibly care less about these battles over how to correctly slice and dice the different types of libertarians.

When it comes to use of the term libertarian out “in the wild” among mainstream, non-libertarian pundits, the use of the term is surprisingly consistent. It nearly always refers to an ideology that pushes for greater economic freedom in the form of less regulation of economic life, lower taxes, and freedom in trade.

Most writers on political and public policy matters, however, are not friendly to this sort of ideology so the term “libertarian” is also often expressed with an air of disapproval.

A Sampling of Media Coverage

This definition of libertarianism was made more clear than usual in the wake of the death of industrialist David Koch. Koch was known to support a number of libertarian political initiatives around taxation and government regulation.

To say that Koch was savaged for these views in the press and in social media would be an understatement. But the criticism also helped to bring out how mainstream media organs view libertarianism, and how they define it.

After Koch’s death, Salon declared we “live in the brothers’ libertarian utopia” thanks in part to the political machinations of Koch and his brother Charles.

What does this utopia look like? According to Christopher Leonard, a reporter known to have written a “secret history” of the Koch brothers, the assumed victory of libertarians has led to a world in which environmental regulations have been eviscerated, social programs are impoverished, and wealthy corporations wield vast power over workers. Indeed, according to Leonard, this Kochian libertarian program seeks a return to the days before the New Deal, allegedly a “capitalistic free-fire zone” characterized by starving workers lorded over by corrupt plutocrats.

But thanks to libertarians like Koch, the progress forged by the New Deal has largely been brought crashing down.

Similarly, the Washington Post refers to Koch’s “libertarian” empire responsible for pushing the Republican party further in the direction of low taxes, fewer government programs, and what the author refers to as anti-government extremism.

Needless to say, we don’t actually live in a “libertarian utopia” and its unclear if Koch did the things attributed to him. But for our purposes in this article what matters is that the mainstream view of libertarianism is clear: libertarianism is an extreme pro-capitalist ideology.

This view extends well beyond a handful of articles about the Kochs.

For example, Darren Dochuk at Politico writes this month on the now-forgotten Pew brothers who were influential political operators behind the scenes in the mid-twentieth century. The brothers, Dochuk notes, “spent their oil fortune remaking the GOP in their libertarian and conservative Christian image.”

Both the Christianity and the libertarianism are apparently meant by the author to be seen as nefarious aspects of the brothers’ agenda. The nature of the libertarian side of their agenda is consistent with what we see said about libertarians elsewhere: the Pews’ libertarianism impelled them to oppose the beloved New Deal, especially its “encroachment on their corporate sector.” Capitalist dystopia allegedly ensued.

From Guns to Free Trade

The title “libertarian” can also be used to encompass those who take an excessive view of the freedom to own firearms. For example, Georgetown historian Robert Curran writes “Our scandalous gun policy is the inevitable consequence of libertarian ideology.” Libertarian laissez-faire, we’re told, doesn’t just encourage oppression of hapless workers. It encourages murderers as well.

Other writers have claimed to be appalled by the callousness of libertarian ideology. For instance, consider David Masciotra’s confession about once being libertarian, but eventually coming to his senses. Masciotra describes libertarians as “individuals myopically pursuing their own interests have no solution to ecological catastrophe, thousands dying for lack of health insurance, lethal disparities in the public education system, and the unending terror and devastation of racism.”

The context makes it clear that these are problems government regulation and control could solve, but libertarians dogmatically insist on their idiosyncratic views of how government regulation and funding in areas such as health care and education are a bad thing.

Other references make it clear that the term “libertarian” can be generally used to describe any organization that, on the whole, favors even a marginally pro-market political economy. This often involves applying the term to a variety of organizations that are also often just regarded as mainstream “conservative” organizations. As Max Moran writes at the American Prospect:

Democrats, if you’re reading, here’s a shot of reality: Google doesn’t just donate to think tanks on the center-left of the political spectrum. It also funds libertarian and right-wing institutions like the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation.

To many libertarians, organization like the Heritage Foundation may hardly qualify as libertarian. But from the outside looking in, Heritage is libertarian because it takes a low-tax anti-regulatory view on some issues. What may seem milquetoast to a libertarian appears as extreme pro-market superstition to the average writer at The Washington Post.

Read the rest of this entry »

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: This Is Not Free Trade, Not Even Close

Posted by M. C. on October 2, 2018

I shudder to think about the crony deals and protectionism that is buried in this deal.

A real free trade agreement should be 1 page.

For every treaty page there will be a thousand pages of regulations and procedures. Think of when the government adds 5000 pages to the tax code in order to simplify it.

http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2018/10/this-is-not-free-trade-not-even-close.html

Below is the table of contents to Trump’s Trade Agreement (TRUMPSTA). In no way does this suggest a free trade agreement. I shudder to think about the crony deals and protectionism that is buried in this deal.

As Lawrence McQuillan put it:

At least #NAFTA had the pretense of free trade. The new agreement is managed government #protectionism & #cronycapitalism. @realDonaldTrump just made America poorer again & strengthened Federal govt! 

RW 

United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Text
Table of Contents
A.        United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Text – Chapters
0.         Preamble
3.         Agriculture
4.         Rules of Origin, with Product Specific Rules
5.         Origin Procedures
6.         Textiles and Apparel
7.         Customs and Trade Facilitation
10.       Trade Remedies
12.       Sectoral Annexes
13.       Government Procurement

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Most Ridiculous Argument Ever – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on September 26, 2018

It is in fact protectionists who are Marxists.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/09/laurence-m-vance/the-most-ridiculous-argument-ever-against-free-trade/

By 

In the age of Trump’s protectionism, economic nationalism, and ignorance and incoherence on trade, some conservatives have begun to go beyond legitimate criticisms of government-managed trade agreements and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and attack free trade itself.

The most ridiculous of their arguments against free trade is a classic guilt by association argument: Karl Marx believed in free trade. This is the most ridiculous argument ever against free trade.

Marx said he favored free trade because “it breaks up old nationalities and carries antagonism of proletariat and bourgeoisie to the uttermost point.” But “certainly it would be unfair to tar the bulk of free-traders with Marxism.” Then why do it? Did Marx favor free trade because he was a capitalist? Did Marx favor free trade because he was a libertarian? Did Marx favor free trade because he believed in the free market? Did Marx favor free trade because he was a disciple of Adam Smith and David Ricardo? Did Marx favor free trade because he believed in free enterprise? Did Marx favor free trade because he believed in freedom? Did Marx favor free trade because he was opposed to government intervention in the economy? Did Marx favor free trade because he believed in the benefits of competition?

Of course not… Read the rest of this entry »

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The Globalists – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on August 19, 2018

Tariffs is one place where I feel Pat Buchanan is wrong. It is the masochist tax.

Open borders…Pat is right on.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/08/patrick-j-buchanan/are-globalists-plotting-a-counter-revolution/

On meeting with the EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker last month, Donald Trump tweeted: “Both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies! That would finally be Free Market and Fair Trade.”

Did Larry Kudlow somehow get access to Trump’s phone?

We know not. But, on hearing this, Steve Forbes, Stephen Moore and Arthur Laffer broke into the “Hallelujah” chorus of Handel’s “Messiah.”

“Amen,” they thundered in The New York Times.

Trump should declare “total trade disarmament” to be national policy and make free trade his “legacy” to America. Such a proclamation, they wrote, would assure Trump the “moral high ground” in the global debate and transform him from “evil disrupter of international commerce to potential savior.”

For free trade is always and ever a “win-win for trading partners.”

To read the Times op-ed is to appreciate that what we are dealing with here is an ideology, a political religion, a creed, a cult. Read the rest of this entry »

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Trade Myths – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 10, 2018

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/07/laurence-m-vance/trade-myths-die-hard/

By 

I received several comments and questions regarding trade after the publication of my recent article, “Stupid Countries Restrict Trade.” Here is a summary of some questions that a few people had:

What should the government of the United States do if other countries impose tariffs on U.S. goods exported to their countries?

What should the government of the United States do if a country subsidizes its exports to the United States?

What should the government of the United States do if it had no tariffs on foreign imports but other countries imposed tariffs on U.S. exports?

Trade myths die hard. Here are three of them I want to refute based on the comments and questions I recently received. Read the rest of this entry »

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Globalists and Nationalists – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on March 13, 2018

Men will fight for family, faith and country. But how many will lay down their lives for pluralism and diversity?

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/03/patrick-j-buchanan/globalists-and-nationalists/

By 

…Britain converted to this utopian faith and threw open her markets to the world. Across the Atlantic, however, another system, that would be known as the “American System,” had been embraced.

The second bill signed by President Washington was the Tariff Act of 1789. Said the Founding Father of his country in his first address to Congress: “A free people … should promote such manufactures as tend to make them independent on others for essential, particularly military supplies.”

In his 1791 “Report on Manufactures,” Alexander Hamilton wrote, “Every nation ought to endeavor to possess within itself all the essentials of national supply. These comprise the means of subsistence, habitat, clothing and defence.”

This was wisdom born of experience. Read the rest of this entry »

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Free Trade versus “Free Trade” | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on January 25, 2017

https://mises.org/blog/free-trade-versus-free-trade

To paraphrase a former White House occupant…It depends on what your definition of free trade is. TPP it ain’t.

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Only Free Trade – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on January 18, 2017

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/01/walter-e-williams/free-trade-3/

One of the unappreciated benefits of international trade is that it helps reveal the cost of domestic policy. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can impose high costs on American companies, but it has no jurisdiction elsewhere. Our Environmental Protection Agency can impose costly regulations on American companies, but it has no power to impose costly regulations on companies in other countries. Congress can impose costly tax burdens on American companies, but it has no power to do so abroad. Restrictions on international trade conceal these costs.

All government interference with free trade costs us jobs and money.

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