Monday, December 15, 2008

Quotes of the Day: The Case for Free Trade

The general case for freedom in international exchange is like the case against putting sand in the gears of a machine.

~C. Lowell Harriss, professor of economics at Columbia University, writing in 1953

The economic case for Free Trade is quite the same as the case for technological progress. Both increase the output of useful goods and services that a country can get from its labor and resources. In particular, Free Trade, like improved transportation, promotes interregional specialization and increases through trade the results that a country gets from its productive powers.

~Auburn University economist Leland Yeager


At 12/15/2008 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best quote ever?

The American Republic will fall when the politicians learn they can bribe people with their own money. --Alexis de Tocqueville

Sacramento Republic of.

At 12/15/2008 4:22 PM, Blogger Michael Smith said...

As valid as the economic case for free trade may be, the ultimate case for free trade rests on the moral issue of property rights.

The right to property is the right to the exclusive use and disposal of any property you create, earn or otherwise obtain legally. Since human beings must produce the values required to sustain their existence, the right to keep the product of one’s productive efforts is an essential condition of man’s existence.

An individual’s money -- like his life -- is *his* property -- it belongs to him, not to his neighbors, not to a labor union, not to society and not to the government. He, and he alone, has the moral right to decide when, where and how it will be spent.

Likewise, a producer’s product is *his* property. He, and he alone, has the moral right to sell it to whoever wishes to buy it, at whatever price *they* mutually agree upon.

Restrictions on free trade -- whether in the form of quotas that limit imports or tariffs that make them more expensive -- are violations of both the purchaser’s and the seller’s individual property rights. Nothing justifies the notion that government may engage in such violations.

The notion that trade restrictions are justified to “protect local industry” is false because “local industry” has no right to such “protection” -- “local industry” has no right to obtain any individual’s money by any form of force, including the use of government force to violate an individual’s right to spend his money with “non-local industry” if he so chooses.

Nor are trade restrictions justified to “protect jobs”. No employee is entitled to protection that consists of using force to violate an individual’s right to spend his money with another, “non-local” employer if he so chooses.

Obtaining values from others by force (or by fraud) is fundamentally immoral and a fundamental violation of individual rights. The purpose of government is to protect our rights from such violations, not engage in such violations itself. Recognizing the right of free trade -- and protecting that right -- is thus the only proper, moral policy for government to take.

At 1/30/2009 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with Free Trade

is that the foreign manufacturers don't pay their share of infrastructure cost.

The local manufacturers then get a double helping of the tax burden.


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