Well, let me start the debate by doing some editing of the Fletcher article (starting with a new title "Ten Problems With Free Trade Among American States"), my additions appear in bold below to illustrate my position as follows: The same arguments against free trade among nations should logically follow as arguments against free trade among American states, counties, cities, or individuals. That is, there is nothing really special or unique about an imaginary line called a national border that makes it economically different than an artificial line called a state border. The economic benefits of free trade have nothing to do with whether a buyer and seller are on the same side, or different sides, of imaginary lines called national, state or county borders.
Bottom Line: To argue against free trade among countries, one would also have to object to free trade among American states, counties, cities and individuals, see my edits below of Fletcher's article that hopefully make this point.
"There is a myth in wide circulation that the superiority of free trade among American states is simply a settled question on which all serious economists agree. The flip side of this myth, of course, is that anyone who criticizes free trade among states must either be ignorant of economics, or the spokesman of some special interest which hopes to benefit from trade restrictions. Such critics are not only wrong, the story continues with admittedly impeccable logic, but profoundly worthy of public contempt, as they are necessarily either dumb or corrupt.
Unfortunately, this myth is just that: a myth, promoted by special interests (and millions of consumers) which benefit from free trade among American states, whatever the harm to the rest of the economy. Serious economists actually recognize a number of very serious criticisms of free trade among U.S. states -- even economists who ultimately decide that free trade is better than the alternatives, e.g. total self-sufficiency at the state level. They generally don't talk about the flaws of free trade among our states too loudly, for fear of provoking the public into supporting stupid forms of protectionism, but they certainly know they are there.
Thanks to recent developments in economics (most visibly signaled by Paul Krugman's winning the 2009 Nobel Prize posthumously
), these criticisms are becoming more serious every day. There is, in fact, an inexorable erosion of the credibility of free trade among American states
going on in the academy, not that you'd know it from watching the economists who show up on TV.
The rest of this article is just a wee bit technical. The point is not to baffle the reader, but to pry open the mysterious "black box" of free trade economics a little, and let non-economists in on the big secret that economists regard as dangerous to talk about too loudly: free trade economics is a package of mechanisms that, like any piece of machinery, can and do break down all the time. And when they break down, free trade among our 50 American states ceases to be a good idea.
Free trade among American states has roughly ten very serious problems (see article for the ten problems).
Conclusion: Hopefully, the above list should convince the reader that free trade among U.S. states is, at the very least, an extremely complicated question, and by no means something that anyone is entitled to consider simply settled. Therefore it is high time that critics of free trade among American states, and those who advocate economic self-sufficiency at the state-level, were given the serious hearing that they deserve."