Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Obama: The Free Trade Hustler?

By, Chris Rossini

That Obama...he's one tricky fella.

On the one hand, he wrestles together the embodiment of crony capitalism, known as ObamaCare. Then, on the other hand, we get this fantastic news from Bloomberg today (my emphasis):
The free-trade agreement being negotiated by the U.S. and 11 other nations is considered the economic keystone of the Barack Obama administration’s much-vaunted “pivot” to Asia. If successful, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will liberalize a $2 trillion market...
Free Trade? Has Obama been hustling us this whole time?

Such an agreement could be done over a cup of coffee. Get the government bureaucrats the finest blend of Arabian Mocha Java on the planet, and I'll draw up the terms of the "free trade agreement". Nothing could be easier. Here it goes:

"All restrictions on trade between these 12 nations are hereby abolished. All protectionist measures, taxes, levies, and sanctions are hereby declared null and void. No individual or corporation may lobby for special monopolistic privileges, because there are no privileges to give. The 12 signatory governments are out of the picture, and the inhabitants of these nations may trade whatever they want, whenever they want, and with whoever they want. They have complete freedom."


I'm feeling a little skittish though. The very next thing that Bloomberg tells us is this (my emphasis):
Given the complexities of negotiations involving economies ranging from Vietnam to Japan, the failure of recent meetings in Singapore to produce the promised year-end agreement isn’t a surprise.
Complexities? I just drew up a free trade agreement in less than a min. If there's one thing that free trade is not, it's "complex".

If you're starting to think that maybe Obama is not hustling us, and that he's still a typical corporatist politician, you're right. The Trans-Pacific Partnership has as much to do with "free trade" as The Patriot Act has to do with "patriotism".

Whenever governments use the term "free trade," it's code for "managed trade" or "forced trade". Remember NAFTA? That bad boy has the words "Free Trade" right in the title! Yet it's really an agreement for regional protectionism.

Real free trade does not require any type of "treaty". As Thomas Jefferson said in 1815: “We are infinitely better off without treaties of commerce with any nation.” Ironically, as President, Jefferson signed the disastrous Embargo Act that crushed free trade, but his above statement is nevertheless right on the money.

When governments make free trade agreements, they're really just a bonanza for special interests. Every hog tries to stick its snout into it, in an effort to gain an advantage. When NAFTA was passed, Sen. Bob Smith from New Hampshire said: “When I think of free trade, I do not think of the 1,200 pages of complex rules, regulations, and specifications on who can trade what, when, how, and how much.”

Government "free trade" agreements do nothing but impede free trade. They're big steps in the wrong direction. Richard Cobden summed it up perfectly a very long time ago:
“Peace will come to earth when the people have more to do with each other and governments less.”

Follow @ChrisRossini on Twitter

1 comment:

  1. Like most terms heavily used by pols, "Free trade" means the exact opposite of it's actual definition.

    "Managed trade" doesn't have that "freedom ring" to it though, so it doesn't make for good pablum.