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Friday, June 22, 2012

Losing it on free trade

Gary North now demonstrates that he's not only logically inept, but even appears to be willing to lie about his opponents in defense of his free trade dogma. I found this to be more than a little remarkable since I had previously considered him to be short-sighted and misguided on the topic, as well as rather lazy since he couldn't be bothered to read the material on which he was commenting, but I never imagined that he would also be intellectually dishonest:
I have found over the years that when I debate with people who promote tariffs, meaning sales taxes on imported goods that are enforced by people with badges and guns, they always adopt arguments that apply only to America's side of the border. They refuse to adopt those very same arguments for people on the other side of the border.

I challenge defenders of tariffs to state their arguments in terms of both of the people who want to trade, not just the American. The ethics and economics of restricted trade surely apply to the person who wants to trade on the other side of the invisible line known as a national border. If the arguments for restricted trade apply to the American economy, then surely they apply to the other nation's economy. Logic and ethics do not change just because we cross an invisible judicial line. I take this position because I want the pro-tariff person to face the implications of his position.

It never ceases to amaze me that I am almost never able to persuade a person who defends tariffs to follow the logic of his argument. Without exception, the person insists that the invisible line dividing two jurisdictions called nations is economically significant, and therefore sales taxes on imported goods on the American side of the border are legitimate, wise, and beneficial to the vast majority of Americans. Yet, when I ask him to make exactly the same case with respect to the people on the other side of the border, which means either Canadians or Mexicans, the person has enormous difficulty in making his case. What seems utterly clear to him with respect to Americans on their side of the border seems ridiculous when he tries to state the case from the point of view of the Mexican or the Canadian on the other side of the border.

Why is this? Why is it that an argument that sounds utterly logical and utterly ethical from the point of view of an American who defends American tariffs on imported goods should not feel equally logical and equally ethical from the point of view of the Mexican or Canadian on the other side of the border?

There is a reason for this. His argument is ludicrous. When he applies it to people across the border, the argument becomes far more obviously ludicrous. So, he prefers not to consider what happens on the other side of the border.
I'll type this very slow so that Mr. North can understand it because the argument isn't ludicrous at all. National interests diverge. Nations compete. At times their interests run in parallel, at other times they are in direct opposition. It is in the American national interest that Americans prosper. It may or may not be in the American national interest that Mexico, China, or Russia prosper. Logic and ethics do not change depending upon the judicial line, but the objective pursued does. Just as it is not intrinsically unethical for an American to act in accordance with the American national interest, it is not automatically unethical for the Mexican to act in accordance with the interest of the Mexican people, even when both actions happen to oppose each other.

This really isn't difficult to understand. The Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers play by the same rules of the game, and yet the Vikings' objective is to get the football in the Green Bay end zone and the Packers' objective is to keep it out. No one claims it is unethical for the Vikings to attempt to score or for the Packers to attempt to keep them from scoring. If we apply North's hapless reasoning to NFL football instead of international trade, we'd have to conclude that both teams are acting illogically and unethically by simply playing the game.

North appears to be confusing the anti-free trade argument with the fair trade argument, which accepts free trade doctrine but argues it should only be applied on a reciprocal basis. I should be very curious to see Mr. North identify these "protectionist for me, but not for three" folks. I've certainly never read Ian Fletcher write anything about this unbalanced and hypocritical doctrine nor does it describe my own anti-free trade position.

Furthermore, I note that North isn't discussing economics anymore, but the ethics and morality of free trade. But if we're going to discuss the ethics and morality of free trade instead the economics, then it is necessary to consider whether it is moral for an American to place his own interests above every other American's, and if it is ethical for a Mexican to place higher priority on the prosperity of the people of Peru above the prosperity of the people of Mexico. Is it right for Mr. North to starve his children in order to feed the children of Chile? Does he have no more responsibility to his relatives or to his neighbors than to the people of Argentina or Andorra?

And would it truly have been in the interests of either the American or the Russian people, or interests of the many nations under the Soviet heel, for the USA to prop up the Soviet economy through free trade? And if Mr. North is going to claim that there are no legitimate national interests or barriers to trade, does he understand that necessitates free international trade in plutonium, the smallpox virus, and armed drones, as well as granting green cards to as many members of the Red Army that China wishes to transport to the United States?

The foolish utopianism of North and his kind is usefully revealed in terms such as "the invisible line known as a national border". The significant line isn't geography, but rather people, and when the lines are not drawn in accordance with the population, trouble begins. Germany unified despite being divided into two different states because the Germans are one nation. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia broke up because multiple nations were trapped together in one state. The European Union was founded on the principles North espouses and it is foundering because it refused to take those "invisible lines" into account. Nations are more than mere jurisdictions.

The observable fact is that if you scratch a free trader, you reveal the globalist underneath. And since there is no greater risk to human freedom than that posed by a central global state, they are working to bring about precisely that which they fear most. And in their myopic disregard for nations, societies, and civilization, they reveal themselves to be barbarians as well.

North's perspective isn't so much wrong as it is simple and short-sighted. After a decade of the disastrous Bush wars, most sensible people now understand that it is not in America's interest nor is it America's responsibility to police the world or bring democracy to the world. North's objective is even more problematic, as he wants America to enrich the world at the expense of the American people.

One reason the free trade doctrine is so inherently untrustworthy is that its supporters reliably fail to understand that they are presenting various aspects of multiple different arguments as if they were one coherent case, which they quite clearly are not. Moreover, North is simply lying - yes, I am accusing him outright of lying - when he writes: "The difference between the defender of tariffs and the defender of market liberty is this: the defender of tariffs does not believe, nor does he go public, with a systematic defense of the legitimacy of tariffs on the other side of the border. What he wants is a no-tariff situation on the other side of the border, and a tariff law on this side of the border. He wants Americans to be able to sell whatever they want at the best possible price to people on the other side of the border. But he does not want to have people on the other side of the border to be legally allowed to sell at the best possible price for people on this side of the border."

I am calling Mr. North out on this blatant lie and shameless misrepresentation of those advocating barriers to international trade. It is completely and blatantly false. I do believe, and I am quite willing to go public with a systematic defense of the legitimacy of tariffs on both sides of every international border. Every nation has the right to defend its own interests as its people see fit. The same logic in defense of American interests applies to the defense of Mexican, Canadian, and Chinese interests. Other nations have the same right, and indeed, the same responsibility, to utilize tariffs to protect their native industries and domestic markets. Now, due to the smaller size of many nations, logic may dictate that their tariff laws be different than the USA's; there is no sense in protecting jobs that don't exist in nonexistent industries, after all. But that doesn't change the fact that North's accusation is completely false.

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307 Comments:

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Anonymous The Gray Man June 22, 2012 8:48 AM  

I wonder how the 'true libertarians' feel knowing that you've called them globalists. I suspect anger, coupled with a gut wrenching pain, at which point they will respond with "No, no, no, but, no, you're wrong, Vox!!!"

Blogger Shimshon June 22, 2012 9:04 AM  

You hit it out of the park with this one. I can't believe how amateur North is acting. And that statement of his is so patently false. It could be that he got emotional and just hamstered, but that would make him a beta (or worse), not a liar (:-).

Blogger A Wiser Man Than I June 22, 2012 9:09 AM  

The Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers play by the same rules of the game, and yet the Vikings objective is to get the football in the Green Bay end zone and the Packers objective is to keep it out.

Your analogy fails. The players on a sports team have the same goal: to win games. The same does not apply to the citizens of a country, who have disparate goals.

An American who manufactures automobiles is concerned with his job and would thus support a tariff in his industry. A software developer who wants to buy a German automobile has different interests, and does not benefit from the tariff.

Anonymous unger June 22, 2012 9:11 AM  

Me? I laugh. No world governments is the same thing as one world government? Like North said, Ingsoc. You keep right on duckspeaking, you doubleplusgoodthinker.

Anonymous Daniel June 22, 2012 9:19 AM  

A Wiser Man Than I
Your analogy fails. The players on a sports team have the same goal: to win games.

And the citizens of countries have the same goal: to prosper. Your analysis fails, but it sounds as if you might very well belong in Gary's division: The No Freaking Clue North.

Anonymous cherub's revenge June 22, 2012 9:21 AM  

He wants Americans to be able to sell whatever they want at the best possible price to people on the other side of the border. But he does not want to have people on the other side of the border to be legally allowed to sell at the best possible price for people on this side of the border.

This is what I want, but I don't deny that other countries have a legitimate interest in preventing it.

Blogger A Wiser Man Than I June 22, 2012 9:22 AM  

And the citizens of countries have the same goal: to prosper.

It's good to know that all citizens of a nation must prosper together. That will be news to the folks over at Goldman Sachs.

Anonymous The Gray Man June 22, 2012 9:22 AM  

unger
Me? I laugh. No world governments is the same thing as one world government? Like North said, Ingsoc. You keep right on duckspeaking, you doubleplusgoodthinker.

Yes, unger, you are a one world government promoter. You don't realize it because you do not follow Free Trade to its logical conclusion. Vox has already demonstrated that with Free Trade must come a free movement of labor--the precursor to global government. Look no further than the EU for a shining example.

Anonymous Salt June 22, 2012 9:22 AM  

I have an idea for prefabricated grass huts. Make them in Somalia. Maybe I could get Gary to invest? There could be a great market in the US if Gary had his way.

Anonymous Other Josh June 22, 2012 9:23 AM  

Ya. As I was reading North's response, I was thinking "This is a competition! There are winners and losers."

Who has tarriffs, China or the US? Who is winning, China or the US? It's not America's responsibility to make sure other nations prosper.

You have this one in the bag, Vox. It's like watching a mental ground n' pound - MMA style!

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 June 22, 2012 9:24 AM  

The foolish utopianism of North and his kind is usefully revealed in terms such as "the invisible line known as a national border". The significant line isn't geography, but rather people, and when the lines are not drawn in accordance with the population, trouble begins.

Probably the best statement in the entire blog post. What the anarcho-capitalists fail to understand is that government did not declare the borders, the people did. They are Utopians, through and through, and that is why I cannot buy into their philosophy whole-heartedly.

This is not to say that they don't have good ideas, just that I fail to see how their way of life could be implemented in any fashion without violating the non-aggression principle in the first place. Most people are idiots and many will refuse to abide by it. Hell, when Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself, how many Christians have followed that commandment all that well? And they want a secular version of that very same principle to be accepted by everyone in the world?

Praxeologists they are not.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 9:26 AM  

this talk of collective prosperity is worrisome...

I understand the arguments regarding loss of productive wealth due to free trade, but many of the comments in these threads have to do with jobs and wages.

No one has the right to a job. No one has the guarantee that their job will always be there...why not make it illegal for companies to fire people and for companies to declare bankruptcy? After all, wages, jobs, and labor uber alles!

And these are also exactly the same arguments used by labor unions and special interest groups to increase the cost of labor.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 June 22, 2012 9:26 AM  

By the way, this has been almost as entertaining as when Tom Woods debated Mark Levin over the war-making powers of the President. Mostly because it's also pretty much one-sided:

The full debate is here, in case you are curious

Blogger SarahsDaughter June 22, 2012 9:30 AM  

"After a decade of the disastrous Bush wars, most sensible people now understand that it is not in America's interest nor is it America's responsibility to police the world or bring democracy to the world. North's objective is even more problematic, as he wants America to enrich the world at the expense of the American people." - Vox

America isn't the world's police, it is the world's mafia. Any national economy that dares threaten to rise up is bullied into buying our T-bills in exchange for their protection. China currently, Japan and Europe previously. And woe to the countries that won't play by the rules (i.e. Iran).

Anonymous Orion June 22, 2012 9:30 AM  

North has lost it completely. Even when I was on the side of fair trade I never would have thought of making such an assertion about protectionists. The conceptual frame work of protectionism is that each side acts to protect their own interests. That means it is a given that the other side will have tariffs. Whether they make any sense on an individual basis is besides the point. The current situation is that EVERYONE except the USA has a tariff system in place, putting his thought process out of step with readily observable reality.

Anonymous Daniel June 22, 2012 9:31 AM  

A Wiser Man Than I

It's good to know that all citizens of a nation must prosper together. That will be news to the folks over at Goldman Sachs.

It's good to know you can't read. Are you seriously suggesting that citizens of all countries prefer not to prosper?

Blogger A Wiser Man Than I June 22, 2012 9:34 AM  

Are you seriously suggesting that citizens of all countries prefer not to prosper?

Not at all. I'm implying that citizens of a country may prosper while other citizens do not. In fact, it's possible for some citizens to prosper at the expense of other citizens. One could prosper by increasing the production of the country at large, or one could prosper by getting a job in Obama administration. Hence the analogy fails.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 9:36 AM  

Yes, unger, you are a one world government promoter. You don't realize it because you do not follow Free Trade to its logical conclusion. Vox has already demonstrated that with Free Trademust come a free movement of labor--the precursor to global government. Look no further than the EU for a shining example.

so, in your thought experiment, if borders are done away with (not something I propose, mind you), and there is no redistributionist state, how many people of the world would actually have the means to relocate and to survive in a new country? and those that do would be the more productive people, and I fail to see how a country increasing its number of productive people is a bad thing.

Anonymous Difster June 22, 2012 9:37 AM  

All well and good Vox and I can't say I disagree so far but I've yet to see the actual Austrian case. When will that be forthcoming?

And what approach will you use to vet your theory?

It will certainly piss off the Rothbardian anarcho-capitalists.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 9:39 AM  

In fact, it's possible for some citizens to prosper at the expense of other citizens.

like overpaid american workers prospering at the expense of consumers who are prohibited from purchasing cheaper or better foreign goods?

Anonymous The Gray Man June 22, 2012 9:40 AM  

Josh
So, in your thought experiment, if borders are done away with (not something I propose, mind you), and there is no redistributionist state, how many people of the world would actually have the means to relocate and to survive in a new country? and those that do would be the more productive people, and I fail to see how a country increasing its number of productive people is a bad thing.

Vox already discussed this in the past two posts. Did you not pay attention to any of his comments?

Anonymous Daniel June 22, 2012 9:44 AM  

Josh
this talk of collective prosperity is worrisome...

Don't be foolish. No one is talking about collective prosperity, any more than Vox was advocating that the Vikings load up on a full 52-man roster of quarterbacks.

A nation exists so that its people have an environment in which they can prosper. They are a team in this sense: their economy does better when it is able to "score more" than other nations. It will always be that way - winning nations and losing nations. But what is insane is for a free trader to say America needs to be happy about losing, because, hey, China's winning and eventually that'll help Americans!

After all, the Vikings got brought Favre, yet Green Bay kept its Lombardi trophy. So everyone wins, right?

Wrong. China has every right to implement (and even if they don't, the point is they are implementing) tariffs. The free trader argues that China's tariffs should go away, and everything will be good.

That's simply wrong. In order to practically apply that, China has to buy in to a larger free trade monitoring body. It needs, at a minimum an EU-style arrangement of common currency and de-nationalized decision making. I'm certain Laos would love that. South Korea? Not so much.

In other words, free trade between nations is "fair" in the same way that being a member of a communist bloc country was "fair:" no one had access to any capital or control, except that which was illegal or elitist.

Free trade in action does not do what it claims it does.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 9:44 AM  

Vox already discussed this in the past two posts. Did you not pay attention to any of his comments?

That's not answering my question. I think you underestimate the amount of mobility there would be absent government subsidies.

Anonymous Salt June 22, 2012 9:44 AM  

If you do not start with a pair of traders, and if you do not deal with the basic issues of trade in terms of people on opposite sides of the street... - North

What about those two people? Are they playing essentially by the same rules? like Vox said, Packers v Vikings. According to North, it's Packers v Manchester United and he sees no problem with that, each acting without barrier. It's total FAIL.

Anonymous duckman June 22, 2012 9:48 AM  

I should be very curious to see Mr. North identify these "protectionist for me, but not for three" folks.

A pox on all of them. I've always been a protectionist for two man myself.

Anonymous MattN June 22, 2012 9:49 AM  

Vox did a good job of wrecking his "Badges and guns" argument. I particularly like the idea that globalism is behind this, I'm gonna start using that myself. I think there's a more basic argument that's missed here though. North is complaining it's unethical for American's to have protective tariff's that benefit themselves. Isn't the argument for free trade that everyone is better off, by saying Americans are being selfish he's going contra to his argument, or at least Hazlitt's argument that he was defending, that free trade is good for everyone. He's admitting that accepting free trade will weaken America economically. Which is why this whole argument of his is comical.

Anonymous cherub's revenge June 22, 2012 9:49 AM  

if borders are done away with (not something I propose, mind you

Why not? By your premises, and if economic productivity is the only thing you assign value to, then why not?

Anonymous Anonymous June 22, 2012 9:49 AM  

Currently, very few domestic U.S. institutions work for the benefit the U.S. including and especially the federal government, banks including the FED, multinational corporations, etc.

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/will-toledo-ohio-be-the-first-major-american-city-to-be-owned-by-china

http://townhall.com/columnists/julieborowski/2012/05/31/the_uns_law_of_the_sea_treaty_threatens_our_national_sovereignty/page/full/

Two example in twenty seconds.

Anonymous Daniel June 22, 2012 9:50 AM  

A Wiser Man Than I

Not at all. I'm implying that citizens of a country may prosper while other citizens do not. In fact, it's possible for some citizens to prosper at the expense of other citizens. One could prosper by increasing the production of the country at large, or one could prosper by getting a job in Obama administration. Hence the analogy fails.

Wrong. The analogy succeeds. It was talking about competing nations, not competition within a team, which by definition also exists. Why do you think the Vikings only put 11 men on the field at any given time, even though they have as many as 30 eligible players, depending on the team? Why do you think teams make cuts?

Because one team member prospers at the expense of another teammate.

So, even though you misread an analogy about competing nations as one about internal team strife, and declared it bad, it actually works fine, even though it is irrelevant to Vox's point.

Next time, don't be so quick on the trigger. It just makes you look silly.

Anonymous Daniel June 22, 2012 9:53 AM  

Josh
I think you underestimate the amount of mobility there would be absent government subsidies.

I request a hard estimate on the numbers of free-movers you anticipate, and in which direction.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 9:54 AM  

Why not? By your premises, and if economic productivity is the only thing you assign value to, then why not?

when did I say that economic productivity wad the only thing that mattered?

now please deal with the scenario I presented

Anonymous Anonymous June 22, 2012 9:55 AM  

By the way, thanks for this post, VD. Free Market ideology is not a religion, it is a tool, especially when the administering institutions are centralized and controlled by creeps.

Funny, a thorough definition of free markets would probably disqualify centralized administration anyway.

Anonymous pdimov June 22, 2012 9:57 AM  

The Gray Man: Vox has already demonstrated that with Free Trade must come a free movement of labor--the precursor to global government.

Vox has demonstrated nothing of the sort, he just asserted it repeatedly and called those who disagree "disingenious". A Mexican crossing the border is not trade. It's quite possible to have free trade in goods, capital and labor without Mexicans being able to cross the border. (Not all kinds of labor, obviously - but protectionism tends to focus on the kinds of labor for which international trade is possible.)

Anonymous Yorzhik June 22, 2012 9:58 AM  

So at the root of it, the problem is that free trade folks really want a one world government?

If so, that can't be true. Take 2 homes for example. Both can have free trade between each other without having to become the same family.

Remember, both sides of a transaction care more for the product/service than the authority over the area they work in as long as that authority doesn't get in the way.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 10:00 AM  

I request a hard estimate on the numbers of free-movers you anticipate, and in which direction.

I would assume that resource rich areas would see a massive influx of people to develop them (think north dakota on a global scale) along with people moving to build things for the miners, drillers, and farmers.

I don't think you would see much migration of low skilled labor because the demand for such labor would be filed by people coming of the welfare roles and non violent drug offenders being released from prison.

Anonymous cherub's revenge June 22, 2012 10:01 AM  

when did I say that economic productivity wad the only thing that mattered?

You've certainly implied it multiple times, without proffering anything else a government should consider in the free movement of people and goods.

and I fail to see how a country increasing its number of productive people is a bad thing.

What is this, if not that. Sorry, I don't wish to be flooded with 300 million Bindis just because they can run a Motel 6 profitably. Just like they didn't wish to be ruled by the British even though it gave them a functional legal system.

Anonymous pdimov June 22, 2012 10:01 AM  

Other Josh: Who has tarriffs, China or the US?

This is a very good question. Who do you think has tariffs, and why do you think that?

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 10:02 AM  

Funny, a thorough definition of free markets would probably disqualify centralized administration anyway.

I've been saying that all along.

Anonymous 691 June 22, 2012 10:02 AM  

After reading through North's response, it's clear he has no understanding of your position. He confuses intra-state effects with inter-state effects. The French wheat example was particularly bad, as he goes off talking about wealth redistribution within a country. He seems to have no understanding that something can harm more than it helps. Identifying one subgroup of people, French peasants, who would benefit from free trade with access to cheaper bread, does not mean that on the whole, free trade is a good thing

Anonymous Yorzhik June 22, 2012 10:03 AM  

Pdimov makes a good point

It's quite possible to have free trade in goods, capital and labor without Mexicans being able to cross the border.


Even if they are free to cross the border, it is still at the discretion of the nation into who's gate the people are crossing. This would then include identifying all the people that come through the gate as a right of the gatekeepers.

Anonymous Daniel June 22, 2012 10:06 AM  

pdimov
A Mexican crossing the border is not trade. It's quite possible to have free trade in goods, capital and labor without Mexicans being able to cross the border. (Not all kinds of labor, obviously - but protectionism tends to focus on the kinds of labor for which international trade is possible.)

Thank you for so reasonably expressing so many logical contradictions in such a short space.

It's quite possible to have free trade in goods, capital and labor without Mexicans being able to cross the border.

Then it's not free trade.

Not all kinds of labor, obviously

Then it's not free trade.

- but protectionism tends to focus on the kinds of labor for which international trade is possible.

So, as long as protectionism focused on goods, capital and labor that did not merit international trade, you'd be okay with it?

I can't even find a phrase in your paragraph that doesn't upend itself.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 10:07 AM  

You've certainly implied it multiple times, without proffering anything else a government should consider in the free movement of people and goods.

because this is a freaking economics discussion.

I don't condone assault and battery on the street, but talking about tackling in a football game is a different matter

Anonymous scoobius dubious June 22, 2012 10:07 AM  

The interesting thing to me is, that when industrial policy is enacted in say China or Japan or South Korea, the people discussing, shaping, and implementing the policy are all Chinese, or Japanese, or South Korean; and whether they are right or wrong in the matter, they are doing what they perceive to be for the benefit of China or Japan or South Korea.

Our elites are largely not American in any meaningful sense other than legally, and often not even that much. They may be citizens, but they are not my fellow Americans, and there's a difference.

Diversity -- it'll be our strength any day now! Goldman Sachs and the Teachers Unions told me so!

Blogger Joshua_D June 22, 2012 10:08 AM  

I think we should simply ask Mr. North if he believes in free trade between a husband and wife. Can I freely trade my sexual services with a hot Brazilian woman? And can my wife freely trade her sexual services with a sexy Nigerian?

I profit from hot Latino sex. My wife profits from "forbidden" Nigerian sex. The Brazilian profits from getting some of my income stream to support my new foreign baby (and hot white-mail American sex). The Nigerian profits from getting to sex up a hot American woman. It's a win-win-win-win! Right?

Free trade for everyone!

Anonymous III June 22, 2012 10:09 AM  

These people are indeed falling into the globalist trap.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 10:09 AM  

Sorry, I don't wish to be flooded with 300 million Bindis just because they can run a Motel 6 profitably.

supply and demand, idiot. do you really think there would be a need for 300 million motels?

Anonymous TheExpat June 22, 2012 10:12 AM  

I request a hard estimate on the numbers of free-movers you anticipate, and in which direction.

Consider "reversion to the mean." It's not that hard to understand.

And I, too, am very disappointed with the North side of this exchange.

Anonymous Other Josh June 22, 2012 10:12 AM  

Here's what so funny about North's arguments: he indirectly admits tarriffs are beneficial to the country instituting them. He doesn't argue the fact that tarriff's help the country instituting the tarriffs. No, his only argument is that the tarriffs hurt the country whose goods are being taxed.

In other words, Mr. North is making one of the best arguments for protectionism that I've heard in awhile. Good job, Gary!

A growing middle class is an excellent symptom of genuine economic growth. A growing middle class has always, always been linked to a growing industrial base. What countries possess a growing industrial base (and the corresponding growth in middle class)? I'll give you a hint: they are countries who impose tarriffs on incoming goods.

Anonymous The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 10:12 AM  

Who has tarriffs, China or the US? Who is winning, China or the US? It's not America's responsibility to make sure other nations prosper.

This is what people fail to understand. "Free trade" in a world of fiat currency, central banks and homogenous nations that act unabashedly in their national interest is like calling for "open borders" in a world of civil rights laws and welfare, which Hoppe has rightly called the anarchists out on.

Blogger Giraffe June 22, 2012 10:14 AM  

do you really think there would be a need for 300 million motels

Where do you think the Bindis are going to live?

Anonymous Stilicho June 22, 2012 10:15 AM  

And these are also exactly the same arguments used by labor unions and special interest groups to increase the cost of labor.

I despise unions. Pimples upon the ass of the economy. Their real power lies, not in their ability to organize and bargain as a group, but in their legislative protection from any adverse effects due to their actions. Let the weak sisters organize and demand higher wages, but you cannot fairly prevent the employer from firing every last one of them and hiring replacements. Yet, that is the very situation created by our ridiculous union protection laws.

Anonymous alexamenos June 22, 2012 10:15 AM  

North:

...they always adopt arguments that apply only to America's side of the border.

And how dare an American put American interests first? That seems to be a fairly unthinkable thing amongst Baby Boomers generally.

Anonymous Daniel June 22, 2012 10:18 AM  

Josh
I would assume that resource rich areas would see a massive influx of people to develop them (think north dakota on a global scale) along with people moving to build things for the miners, drillers, and farmers.

I don't think you would see much migration of low skilled labor because the demand for such labor would be filed by people coming of the welfare roles and non violent drug offenders being released from prison.


Okay, so where would all that low-skilled labor go? What would they do? And wouldn't you think that (in this instance) all those unskilled, hungry Minnesotans across the border wouldn't see something they liked over yonder where all that black gold was just mining itself? You don't think they'd rather be homeless in a worker's paradise than shacked up under a tin roof with a toothless hag in Fergus Falls?

Okie labor, after all, was unskilled, and it practically walked to California, in search of slavery.

Free trade that does not account for desperate people, for the terminally dependent, the elite motion toward centralization and for man's warmaking nature, is simply not addressing the economic realities.

Anonymous Mr Green Man June 22, 2012 10:19 AM  

Mr. North appears to conflate these as the same thing:

"I am going to pursue my interests, and I hope yours are complementary to mine, but I understand you will pursue your own interests."

with

"I am going to pursue my own strategy, and I think you should pursue my same strategy by swapping proper nouns."

I heard Lesch Walesa talk about free trade between Poland and Germany regarding auto manufacturing. Poland had, of course, no auto industry after the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Poland had a large number of unemployed people who could work in a semi-skilled factory job. He therefore went to the German chancellor, to BMW, and to Daimler, and tried to persuade them to build cars in Poland for sale in Germany and in Poland.

Now, Mr. Walesa is a good salesman. He explained that this would help Germany, too, because he promised a positive balance of trade -- that this would let the Poles buy more German cars because they would have good-paying jobs. As a salesman, you have to convince the buyer that his interests are aligned with yours in the proposed trade. Was Mr. Walesa more interested in enriching the Germans or in enriching his fellow Poles? Was he wrong for that? Of course it would be nice if the Germans were enriched by it, but he expected Poland to win out in this deal and get German manufacturers to either relocate existing or planned German jobs to Poland. It was expressly designed to raise the Polish standing, and any cost was to come out of Germany. I don't know if those freed-up Germans created a bunch of new businesses, but Germany's a fairly hostile place to entrepreneurs. Maybe there were down-stream effects, but the German GDP went down and the Polish GDP went up accordingly as per the labor cost that moved across the "invisible line".

Anonymous pdimov June 22, 2012 10:21 AM  

Daniel, a Mexican crossing the border is not trade, and hence, restricting his ability to cross the border is not a restriction on trade. Restricting my ability to employ a Mexican is a restriction on trade.

Does your objection to free trade depend on free trade necessarily including the ability of Mexicans to cross borders? Is it rendered invalid without it?

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 10:21 AM  

and whether they are right or wrong in the matter, they are doing what they perceive to be for the benefit of China or Japan or South Korea.

no...they are doing it for the benefit of the large corporations in those countries...

Anonymous Stilicho June 22, 2012 10:21 AM  

Here's what so funny about North's arguments: he indirectly admits tarriffs are beneficial to the country instituting them. He doesn't argue the fact that tarriff's help the country instituting the tarriffs. No, his only argument is that the tarriffs hurt the country whose goods are being taxed.

In other words, Mr. North is making one of the best arguments for protectionism that I've heard in awhile. Good job, Gary!


Excellent point. Don't most of the free traders admit that their ideal would ultimately result in a norming of world-wide living standards: lowering of developed nations standards while the standard rises in less developed nations? Now, I don't think this is necessarily a zero sum game and the aggregate standard of living may rise on a world-wide basis, but I would be foolish to support such a scheme if it will result in a large reduction in my standard of living.

Anonymous scoobius dubious June 22, 2012 10:22 AM  

"Take 2 homes for example. Both can have free trade between each other without having to become the same family"

Where are the two homes located? Are they both on Maple Street, or is one in Bangalore? If they're both on Maple Street, are they both single-family dwellings each housing a single nuclear family, or is one home packed to the gills with four generations of Pakistani immigrants?

Maybe one home isn't really a "home" at all, it's just a house on a residential street that is actually a sweatshop operated by forty Mexicans sleeping ten-to-a-room upstairs (seen it happen, a lot) in order to get around the zoning laws. So, one family abides by zoning regulations and OSHA health and safety laws, and the other one doesn't, and you want them to trade? Either the law-abiding family will soon be cleaned out, with an effective net worth the same as that of an illiterate Mexican peon; or else, in order to keep up in a world of non-existent and non-respected standards, they'll have to abandon those standards and work like the sweatshop fellas... and so the two families will indeed "become" something very much like the "same" family.

After all, you don't have a right to have your child protected from slavery, you evil fascist gun and badge-wielding thief/monster/ultranationalist pig!

Anonymous The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 10:23 AM  

Josh:

I would assume ...

I don't think ...


You "would assume...?" You "don't think...?" Welp, that's all I need to know! Open the borders!

Immigration is subsidized by civil rights laws and welfare which coerce association between diametrically opposed groups and allows immigrants and their patrons to privatize the profits and socialize the costs. And I don't know if you've thought this through, but it's also political and cultural suicide for libertarians.

Now, let's assume your Libertopia comes to fruition and all the welfare laws, all the civil rights laws, all the alphabet soup agencies and their compulsory-PC regs go in the shredder. The result will be more borders. Restrictive covenants and blatant racial discrimination and favoritism, like in the days when there was a lot less government.

On a lot of levels, the libertarians are bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Blogger Ken June 22, 2012 10:28 AM  

Vox,

Nations compete.

This isn't true for trade. This is like saying my family competes with Shoppers Warehouse because we trade with them. Of course, that's non-sense.

It's true that some American producers compete with Chinese producers and some American workers compete with some Chinese workers, but that's not the same as saying China competes with American when Chinese and Americans trade with each other.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 10:28 AM  

So, one family abides by zoning regulations and OSHA health and safety laws, and the other one doesn't, and you want them to trade?

I would purpose ending osha, but hey, that's just me...

Anonymous cherub's revenge June 22, 2012 10:29 AM  

supply and demand, idiot. do you really think there would be a need for 300 million motels?

Yeah, because I meant only motels literally you moron. Way to dodge the point.

Anonymous scoobius dubious June 22, 2012 10:29 AM  

"no...they are doing it for the benefit of the large corporations in those countries..."

And the large corporations in Asia are mainly owned by... oh, that's right, Asians.

Blogger The Aardvark June 22, 2012 10:29 AM  

I am not turning this into a "Bible Study".

What surprises me is that North (a dominion theology guy) would take the "invisible line on a map" position on borders, especially as the NT is really clear on their purpose:

"26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us." Acts 17:26-27

Perhaps he now thinks that there is no practical application for Biblical truth in the "real world" of economics anymore. (I do not believe this to be so. Appears to be another blind spot in North's thinking.)

Blogger A Wiser Man Than I June 22, 2012 10:32 AM  

Wrong. The analogy succeeds. It was talking about competing nations, not competition within a team, which by definition also exists.

The point is not that inter-team competition exists. The error is in suggesting that team competition is akin to competition between nations. If we take GDP as the metric, simply for the purposes of the illustration, then an increase in GDP for American benefits team America. It's simply not true that an American farmer must prosper because his "team" is prospering.

Even a Packer player who rides the pine benefits when his team wins the Superbowl. The same is not true of a worker who is laid off during a time while his nation is "prospering."

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 10:32 AM  

***sigh***

people...

Vox's whole case is built on the inherent badness of "trade deficits". how about someone pin him down and make him explain why trade deficits matter.

He's shown correlation with debt increase. He's never shown causation.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 10:32 AM  

Don't most of the free traders admit that their ideal would ultimately result in a norming of world-wide living standards: lowering of developed nations standards while the standard rises in less developed nations?

no, most of africa and rural india would still be an impoverished shithole...

Anonymous Mr Green Man June 22, 2012 10:32 AM  

The other funny thing I learned from Pres. Walesa: the rest of the world does not think the same way America does.

On this occasion, he was giving advice to a town that General Motors had abandoned, and he was talking to the UAW retirees he was convinced made up the audience -- not college students who drove in to hear the great Communist fighter speak -- and he talked about the relationship that the union had to have with management.

Now, the UAW (and other private unions) currently works on unionizing foreign labor and coming up with trans-national labor agreements that, to me, do not look favorable to me to the people who work in the United States.

Pres. Walesa said -- negotiate for as much as you can from the business owner, because he won't give you anything for free, but do not take so much that he cannot compete with the foreigners. His summary -- the business owner is the opposition, but the foreign competition was the enemy.

You also see this in how German unions don't like American unions when they get into tie-ups (e.g., Daimler-Chrysler) and side more with German business vs. trans-national labor.

Mr. North's views that ignore nationalism remind me of the notion of trans-national labor unity.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 10:34 AM  

Vox's whole case is built on the inherent badness of "trade deficits". how about someone pin him down and make him explain why trade deficits matter.He's shown correlation with debt increase. He's never shown causation.

I tried to get him to explain that yesterday, he never did.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 10:38 AM  

Yeah, because I meant only motels literally you moron. Way to dodge the point.

Look retard, we don't have a shortage of low skilled labor here...so why would free trade cause an influx of low skilled labor?

Anonymous patrick kelly June 22, 2012 10:39 AM  

"Now, let's assume your Libertopia comes to fruition and all the welfare laws, all the civil rights laws, all the alphabet soup agencies and their compulsory-PC regs go in the shredder. The result will be more borders. Restrictive covenants and blatant racial discrimination and favoritism, like in the days when there was a lot less government."

I really don't see the down side to this from where I'm sitting. I prefer voluntary association and partnerships as opposed to government imposed ones.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 10:39 AM  

Aardvark - many thanks for that. I knew I had read it but have been unable to find it. The history of Babel is instructive as well.

The so-called "anarcho-capitalists" are really just Marxists. Perpetual levellers. They want to destroy all hierarchy--Da Man, "invisible borders," etc. Then, when people set about defining their stuff, taking up arms, protecting their property values, they'll be right back to tear down the border fences, smash the institutions and declare no man is free until all men can do whatever they want--like a 12-year old.

Levellers.

Blogger RobertT June 22, 2012 10:40 AM  

Whew. It's always a good start to explain what a simpleton your opponent is. I suspect from a quick scan of his blog, Mr. North is not used to this kind of disrespect. Considering how vile his attack was, he may completely lose it before this is over.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 10:41 AM  

I really don't see the down side to this from where I'm sitting. I prefer voluntary association and partnerships as opposed to government imposed ones.

I don't see any downside either

Blogger RobertT June 22, 2012 10:41 AM  

Whew. It's always a good start to explain what a simpleton your opponent is. I suspect from a quick scan of his blog, Mr. North is not used to this kind of disrespect. Considering how vile his attack was, he may completely lose it before this is over.

Anonymous The other skeptic June 22, 2012 10:43 AM  


One reason the free trade doctrine is so inherently untrustworthy is that its supporters reliably fail to understand that they are presenting various aspects of multiple different arguments as if they were one coherent case, which they quite clearly are not.


I suspect that they don't fail to understand this. They expect the public to fail to understand this.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 10:44 AM  

The so-called "anarcho-capitalists" are really just Marxists. Perpetual levellers. They want to destroy all hierarchy--Da Man, "invisible borders," etc.

um, no, we would just prefer to eliminate the state, but, since that is improbable, to reduce it immensely and limit its power.

Anonymous Roundtine June 22, 2012 10:45 AM  

Josh: like overpaid american workers prospering at the expense of consumers who are prohibited from purchasing cheaper or better foreign goods?

I agree with you theoretically and in the very long-run. The analogy I like to think of is running in a race. If you ban the fastest runners from competing, you think you're the champ. You don't realize you need to improve your speed, and the gap between you and those competing slips and the gap widens.

However, the reality is that the Asian nations have been gaming the free trade system. Japan, Taiwan and South Korea developed as extensions of the U.S. economy and China is trying the same policy. Industries are specifically targeted, subsidized and protected with tariffs until they grow large enough to support themselves. U.S. companies face an unfair playing field when this is the case. It's one thing if a smaller nation takes a few industries, but a country as large as China could take them all and in many of these cases, the U.S. simply cannot compete in any realistic way, short of implementing the abolition of all welfare and entitlements, plus nearly all taxes and regulations. The big problem is that unlike with Japan and South Korea, the new globalization threat since the mid-1990s is U.S. companies taking their expertise and their capital overseas.

Reserve currency status is an unfair burden on the U.S. people (the elite love it) and a central bank gold standard (where central banks settle differences in gold, but currencies aren't linked in away to gold except by the trend in gold flows) would be enough to eliminate much of the trade deficit. Ironically, if we implemented a broad tariff, it would lead to the end of dollar reserve status by ending the supply of dollars.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 June 22, 2012 10:46 AM  

no, most of africa and rural india would still be an impoverished shithole...

Which, by the way, has not a whole to do with their economic policies so much as to do with their culture. In India, we see a culture of Hinduism where lower castes are expected to remain poor. In Africa, we see tribalism where stronger tribes take advantage of weaker ones. Pretty much all third-world hellholes apply the same economic principles that the United States does (Keynesian mixed with Monetarism and Socialism).

Another reason why I have trouble buying into the Anarcho-Capitalist ideals: they think economics is the end all, be all of solutions. But Ludwig von Mises himself once said that economics is subcategory of Praxeology, meaning there is more to life than just market interaction and there is more needed to be done than just solving the economic woes of a particular group of people.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 10:48 AM  

Vox's whole case is built on the inherent badness of "trade deficits". how about someone pin him down and make him explain why trade deficits matter.

Because imports must ultimately be paid for in exports. If the books don't balance, we have to give them debt or equity. We are poorer, they are richer. That's why the central banks of the US and China intervene so heavily in the capital markets. And that's the bottom line: free trade in a world of currency and interest rate manipulation is extremely problematic, and the numbers are not adding up. We get cheap shit from China and Aztecs to mow are lawns--better than teenagers, right? But our welfare and disability rolls skyrocket along with public and private debt. Again, the numbers Are. Not. Adding. Up.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 10:49 AM  

Reserve currency status is an unfair burden on the U.S. people (the elite love it) and a central bank gold standard (where central banks settle differences in gold, but currencies aren't linked in away to gold except by the trend in gold flows) would be enough to eliminate much of the trade deficit.

I think it was mish shedlock who laid out the case for why a gold standard made trade deficits impossible

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 10:52 AM  

"On a lot of levels, the libertarians are bringing a knife to a gunfight."

You stand 10 feet from me with your side arm in your holster. I have a knife in my hand. When someone says go... we try to kill each other. Unless you're Rob Latham.. I will kill you almost every time.

People that use that saying generally have no idea how fast an aggressor can close the distance... and have no practice at drawing and firing while under real duress.

Anonymous Mr Green Man June 22, 2012 10:52 AM  

Final Bond Villain remark:

If one were to look closely at the proposition of the size and characters of nations, one would also think that the trade policy should reflect the internal situation, so that one would imagine that the same strategy/reversed proper nouns approach would almost always be wrongheaded.

Do America and Germany want tariff-free trade between them? Let's look at the nations:

Germany has, since the industrial revolution and probably earlier, been all about the export. China only recently eclipsed them as the world's largest exporter. Hans and Ulrich are not just good at going from Shanghai to Buenos Aires to peddle German-built wares, but they are required to do so because there are not enough German consumers to give the Germans the standard of living they want.

America has, forever, been a country about self-consumption. The American industrialists looks across the 50-state free trade union, looks at a population of 5% of the world, sees that he can make $1 per person without ever looking at a customs form, and goes about selling to his own people. America has historically had such a giant consumer economy that internal consumption provides more than adequate standard of living. Hence, our export profile, Boeing excluded, is that same as Jamestown Colony.

Now, what is China trying to do? China's end goal is not to be the exporter forever; their goal is to lever up enough by being on the receiving end of the balance of trade that, at the same time, they bring all the wealth and knowledge of production back to the mother country. While they are weak, permissive trade that results in a net positive balance of trade to them is a good strategy. Once China has a corner on something -- e.g., remember the rare earth minerals market scare -- they close it to outsiders and turn inward. Thus, to China, since they could eventually achieve a consumer economy that doesn't need the rest of the world, "free trade" is an international leveler that is used until their goals are reached, and then abandoned. They do not want to be Germany except in transition; they want to be a better America and then forget the world. To pretend that "free trade" in trans-national agreements is a permanent state and not a means to some other goal is the myopia of people like North.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 10:52 AM  

But our welfare and disability rolls skyrocket along with public and private debt.

why not just end the welfare state?

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 10:53 AM  

um, no, we would just prefer to eliminate the state, but, since that is improbable, to reduce it immensely and limit its power.

And I'm right there with you, but running trade deficits and opening the borders do not starve the State.

They enrich it.

And as a libertarian yammering for "free" trade with overtly nationalist nations like China, Israel, the Gulf Arab monarchs, etc., and open borders for the dregs of the globe, you have swallowed the State's line, hook and sinker.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 10:56 AM  

why not just end the welfare state?

Kind of hard to do when the welfare state can just import more tax base and more demand for its services. And more restive groups that hate each other to justify its natural security apparatus.

You really have never thought about this in any depth, have you?

Anonymous Salt June 22, 2012 10:56 AM  

@Nate

Why 10 feet? Are you establishing your advantage at the start? Hmmmmm?

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 10:59 AM  

"Why 10 feet? Are you establishing your advantage at the start? Hmmmmm?"

I certainly am.

That was my point. people often think bringing a gun to a knife fight is the best way to win. They realize they were wrong way to late.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 11:00 AM  

You really have never thought about this in any depth, have you?

of course I have. You're looking at third and fourth order effects, the symptoms, not the disease.

I say just kill the root.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 11:01 AM  

"Because imports must ultimately be paid for in exports."

No... see they can be paid for with Gold... or silver... or all manner of things.

So try again.

Anonymous Noah B. June 22, 2012 11:03 AM  

"I really don't see the down side to this from where I'm sitting. I prefer voluntary association and partnerships as opposed to government imposed ones."

The problem is that this simply is not the reality of free trade. Instead of having some kind of a libertarian utopia where all individuals compete in the marketplace, we have a situation in which marginally free Americans and Europeans are competing against Chinese slave labor.

The free-traders ignore the fact that free trade cannot exist without harmony of laws between independent nation states, which to my knowledge has never happened. Harmony of law has always required political unity.

Anonymous The Gray Man June 22, 2012 11:05 AM  

Daniel,

Josh has thoroughly demonstrated his inability to learn from the previous day's comments. Each day his brain seems to go into "reset" mode and every part of yesterday's discussion is irrelevant as he starts fresh and anew with libertarian talking points that you, myself, and Vox have already answered sufficiently at some point or another.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 11:05 AM  

Nate - it's a metaphor, sperg.

Middle-class white libertarians show up with their NAP-rulebook for a nice game of badminton. Han Chinese supremacists and Aztec vatos show up for a firefight.

Anonymous scoobius dubious June 22, 2012 11:06 AM  

"You stand 10 feet from me with your side arm in your holster. I have a knife in my hand. When someone says go..."

Heh heh, I already lost the fight by agreeing to your preferred setup instead of my own. Here's my idea: I'm 100 yards away with a high-powered rifle and scope. You have a knife and no cover. Nobody says go, I fire at will. Suddenly I like my odds.

There's a metaphor in there somewhere about all this trade business, and yet somehow I can't seem to put my finger on it.

Blogger Vox June 22, 2012 11:09 AM  

Me? I laugh. No world governments is the same thing as one world government? Like North said, Ingsoc. You keep right on duckspeaking, you doubleplusgoodthinker.

You're not going to get no world governments. You're going to get one world government. Your denial of the obvious consequence is no more convincing than the European elite who denied that the Common Market would ever be a government. Your zero government free trade paradise is no more plausible than the Marxian workers' paradise. You're just a different form of utopian globalist.

A Mexican crossing the border is not trade. It's quite possible to have free trade in goods, capital and labor without Mexicans being able to cross the border.

A Mexican crossing the border is not trade, but Mexicans have to be permitted to cross the border in order to permit the free movement of labor as well as free trade in services. You are either lying or kidding yourself if you think it is possible to have both genuine free trade and immigration restrictions.

After all, how do you think the estimated per capita reduction in living standards happen? Free trade America would very soon have a population to rival India's and a per capita living standard around one-quarter its present one.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 11:10 AM  

I say just kill the root.

Pretty easy, huh? Just go to Compton and the Texas border and pass out some copies of Human Action. Hand out Lysander Spooner tracts at the local synagogues and tell everybody Israel is on its own. Show up at the INS office and lecture all the new American citizens on Lockean principles--I'm sure they'll know what you're talking about.

Anonymous paradox June 22, 2012 11:10 AM  

A Wiser Man Than I June 22, 2012 9:09 AM

Your analogy fails. The players on a sports team have the same goal: to win games. The same does not apply to the citizens of a country, who have disparate goals.

An American who manufactures automobiles is concerned with his job and would thus support a tariff in his industry. A software developer who wants to buy a German automobile has different interests, and does not benefit from the tariff.


It doesn't fail. The American software developer you speak of would be replaced by one form India at an extremely cheaper rate. Who would never have the means to afford said over priced POS German auto*.


*yes I said POS German auto... my brother is a mechanic who owns his own shop. He emphatically tells me over and over they are junk.


Nate June 22, 2012 10:52 AM

You stand 10 feet from me with your side arm in your holster. I have a knife in my hand. When someone says go... we try to kill each other. Unless you're Rob Latham.. I will kill you almost every time.


Someone has been watching Mythbusters lately. They proved this... a knife would be faster in that scenario. ;)

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 11:12 AM  

"Josh has thoroughly demonstrated his inability to learn from the previous day's comments. Each day his brain seems to go into "reset" mode and every part of yesterday's discussion is irrelevant as he starts fresh and anew with libertarian talking points that you, myself, and Vox have already answered sufficiently at some point or another."

Actually... as one of the on-the-fence types who generally likes favors unilateral tarrifs but thinks Vox hasn't made his case... I'd say Josh has posed a lot of questions that haven't been dealt with... and he's answer a lot of your questions... and you've ignored his answers and focused on the dumber statements by others... even on some occasions associating them with Josh.

You've moved the goal posts from debt, to jobs, to high wages, to scary invaders, to one world governments, to mass migration, and now apparently back to debt.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 11:15 AM  

No... see they can be paid for with Gold... or silver... or all manner of things.

Those are exports. What in the world are you thinking?

Our current exports are fiat currency and debt/equity instruments. And with that, your free trade axioms go out the window.

Anonymous patrick kelly June 22, 2012 11:18 AM  

Re: Noahb - "The problem is that this simply is not the reality of free trade."

I wasn't commenting about free trade, I was addressing the possibility of end of the world, dogs and cats living together consequences for "all the civil rights laws, all the alphabet soup agencies and their compulsory-PC regs go in the shredder".

Personally, I'm opposed to unilateral surrender..uhmmm..."free trade" by the USA.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 11:19 AM  

Pretty easy, huh? Just go to Compton and the Texas border and pass out some copies of Human Action. Hand out Lysander Spooner tracts at the local synagogues and tell everybody Israel is on its own. Show up at the INS office and lecture all the new American citizens on Lockean principles--I'm sure they'll know what you're talking about.

or just stop sending checks...it's going to end one way or the other, we don't have the money...I think a manageable transition plan is the best way to go, but I'll let you live in your fantasy that we can keep this up...

Anonymous pdimov June 22, 2012 11:21 AM  

Vox: You are either lying or kidding yourself if you think it is possible to have both genuine free trade and immigration restrictions.

I'll happily go for the non-genuine kind of free trade, then. My question is still, does your argument against free trade depend on it including unchecked immigration, or does it work for the non-genuine kind as well? And if it does work, why bring immigration into it?

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 11:22 AM  

I think a manageable transition plan is the best way to go, but I'll let you live in your fantasy that we can keep this up...

You mistake me. We can't, and when it all goes, I'd prefer to sort things out with my own ethnicity instead of Third World rabble after we've consumed all our capital trying to feed, house and edumacate them all.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 11:23 AM  

You've moved the goal posts from debt, to jobs, to high wages, to scary invaders, to one world governments, to mass migration, and now apparently back to debt.

And my contention is that fiat currency and debt cause the trade imbalance, not the other way around.

We've had various free trade deals before bw ended...but the debt only started to blow up after bw ended...

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 11:24 AM  

"Those are exports. What in the world are you thinking?"

No. They are money.

Anonymous paradox June 22, 2012 11:26 AM  

Nate,

It's always cited that one of the reasons the South secede was due to high tariffs. Is this the case or were there other economic factors and tariffs are used as the scapegoat?

Anonymous Noah B. June 22, 2012 11:27 AM  

@Josh

I would say that it has to be conceded that a trade deficit is not necessarily bad for a country if it is offset by productivity increases. At the same time, a trade surplus might not necessarily be beneficial if it is offset by productivity decreases.

I certainly don't pretend to have all the answers here or some straightforward method of determining under what precise conditions free trade may be economically beneficial. However, it is also worth noting that the level of trade deficits run by the United States can only be sustained under a fiat money system. Otherwise, deflationary forces would have long since pushed down US wages to the point that they were comparable to those in third world countries.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 11:27 AM  

No. They are money.

The only distinction between money and any other commodity on earth is money is the commodity with practically universal marketability. Your statement could not be more wrong.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 11:32 AM  

It's always cited that one of the reasons the South secede was due to high tariffs. Is this the case or were there other economic factors and tariffs are used as the scapegoat?

it was tariffs...and corporate subsidies to union industries...and the fact that the south funded around 90% of federal tax receipts...

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 11:34 AM  

However, it is also worth noting that the level of trade deficits run by the United States can only be sustained under a fiat money system.

which had been my point all along...the casual relationship is the opposite of what vox originally stated...

Blogger Ken June 22, 2012 11:41 AM  

Josh,

the south funded around 90% of federal tax receipts

Where are you getting this? I've heard people talk about the economic reasons for southern secession, not just the slavery issue. I haven't really researched this, so just wanted to know where to look.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 11:42 AM  

"It's always cited that one of the reasons the South secede was due to high tariffs. Is this the case or were there other economic factors and tariffs are used as the scapegoat?"

Indeed the annymosity between the north and south went way beyond slavery and federalism. Like most conflicts... it was about money. Starting with the "american system" of tariffs that funded the war of 1812 and was continued and used to pay for the start of the american industrial revolution.

Our complaint was.. the money was being stolen from us.. and spent in the north. This was viewed as a serious constitutional breech.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 11:45 AM  

"The only distinction between money and any other commodity on earth is money is the commodity with practically universal marketability"

And here you expose yourself.

Money ends a transaction. Thus there is no balance sheet to equal out at the end of the day.

Americans buy X from country Y and pay for it with money... the transaction is ended. Period. There is no credit or debit involved. It doesn't matter how the americans got the money.

It only matters... if the americans are not buying product X with real money.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 11:47 AM  

This is vox's problem.

He's found an AIDS victim that as caught a cold and died... and is now lamenting the dangers of the cold while ignoring the AIDS.

Anonymous scoobius dubious June 22, 2012 11:47 AM  

"Those [gold and silver]are exports. What in the world are you thinking?"

"No. They are money."

It's a floor wax AND a dessert topping!

Anonymous Rantor June 22, 2012 11:48 AM  

Sorry Noah B.

If a country continually runs a trade deficit, that country's wealth is going elesewhere. Some want to argue that what you but is worth what you paid for it, but if I pay with money, whether fiat or gold backed, I am paying with a store of value. If I buy cheap clothes, plastic lawn chairs and an inexpensive car, I no longer have a store of wealth, I have things which will rapidly lose value, eventually being worthless. The country that sold me thes items now has my money. If they are large, like Korea or China, they will be able to use all of this money internally to build up their wealth.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 11:49 AM  

"It only matters... if the americans are not buying product X with real money."

And that's the problem, and maybe the two sides of the debate are talking past each other. Vox's point--and mine--is that so long as central banks are printing up funny money and intervening in the capital markets, it is suicidal to act on first principles of "free" trade. Just as it's suicidal to act on first principles of "open borders" when the State has a gun pointed at everybody and tells them they better love their new neighbors or else.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 11:52 AM  

"Vox's point--and mine--is that so long as central banks are printing up funny money and intervening in the capital markets, it is suicidal to act on first principles of "free" trade. "

No. Its the central banks that are suicidal.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 11:54 AM  

so rantor, we're just going to run out of money?

I better not go to the store to buy food, because I'm trading my store of wealth for something I'll crap out in several hours...

Anonymous AE June 22, 2012 11:54 AM  

North's perspective matches very well with the Anarcho-Capitalist tone of LRC, always mixing economic policy with moral arguments and reducing significant cultural differences to "invisible lines." But where is the line to be drawn when it comes to voluntary exchange? At what point is it moral to threaten someone with physical force to prevent him from trading with another person?

Anonymous Daniel June 22, 2012 11:55 AM  

pdimov
restricting his ability to cross the border is not a restriction on trade. Restricting my ability to employ a Mexican is a restriction on trade.

Restricting a Mexican's ability to cross a border is a restriction on your ability to employ him.

Who determines which restrictions are allowed, and which are against the principles of free trade, after all? Traditionally, a nation determines border access. Under free trade, who?

Oh, that's right. A governing body larger than the state.

Free traders always argue for a superstate, or else they ignore the requirements for free trade, one of which is a mutual or authoritarian governing body. It's the elephant in free trade's room.

After all, those who claim that the U.S. provides a national model for free trade conveniently ignore that the federal government trumps the state in matters of commerce. Free trade between Georgia and Montana, after all, would not exist without the force of Federal government to ensure it. To expand that across the planet, you would have the 196 nations operating under a "United States of Free Trade," governed by a planetary federation board to enforce the constitutional requirement against protectionist practices.

Anonymous kh123 June 22, 2012 11:55 AM  

I remember the first time I read through something of von Mises' and came to where he advocated the "open-borders, no boundaries" ideal, complete with (if I remember correctly) how economic incentives from this would end all aggression between previously competitive states. Struck me as uncharacteristically utopian for the guy.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 11:56 AM  

"If a country continually runs a trade deficit, that country's wealth is going elesewhere. "

I have a trade deficit with Wal-Mart... OMG! I'm going broke!

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 11:58 AM  

Who determines which restrictions are allowed, and which are against the principles of free trade, after all? Traditionally, a nation determines border access. Under free trade, who?

there are these things called treaties that nation states enact to govern such things....

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:00 PM  

"Free traders always argue for a superstate, or else they ignore the requirements for free trade, one of which is a mutual or authoritarian governing body. It's the elephant in free trade's room."

No.

This fails when the free trader says, "wait.. why can't we just... not care who has tarrifs and who doesn't?"

See because with deregulation... the jobs won't be leaving our nation... they'll be leaving everyone else's. And yes.. people will want to come to our nation... you deal with this by saying, "no." or by saying, "yes but you don't get to vote. ever."

See?

No one Star Trek required.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 12:03 PM  

remember the first time I read through something of von Mises' and came to where he advocated the "open-borders, no boundaries" ideal

I'll cut him some (but not much) slack on that one. I think it's a pretty fair assumption that von Mises never, ever, not in one million years, thought that the Third World would just start showing up on the West's doorstep and the State would realize immense profit to itself from letting them in.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 12:03 PM  

nate, you're not afraid of the 300 million indians coming here to open motels?

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:06 PM  

"nate, you're not afraid of the 300 million indians coming here to open motels?"

If I am... can't I just sink the boats and shoot down the planes?

Blogger A June 22, 2012 12:07 PM  

This has become a very fruitful exchange for my intellectual development. I found myself creeping into the Anarcho-Capitalist society, which I see now as the barbarians at the gates of the Libertarians, because of their constant beating of the moral non-aggression principle, failing to take into account what Vox has expounded in this exchange(which I can finally see).

It would be nice (I won't hold my breath) if Vox elaborated a Libertarian treatise of some sort combining the economic, logic, moral, and public policy arguments into something cohesive that would put the AC single-minded adherence to ethics at rest.

I finally have an idea for a sci-fi trilogy I may write someday.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 12:07 PM  

I have a trade deficit with Wal-Mart... OMG! I'm going broke!

You are if you're not producing and exporting to others at least what you're consuming from Wally World. So long as you are not, it ain't "free" trade; it's subsidized trade.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 12:09 PM  

If I am... can't I just sink the boats and shoot down the planes?

No. That would be racist, and there are a million armed bureaucrats with nuclear weapons who will gladly incinerate you and your whole family if you make any such attempt.

Anonymous Scintan June 22, 2012 12:11 PM  

"On a lot of levels, the libertarians are bringing a knife to a gunfight."

You stand 10 feet from me with your side arm in your holster. I have a knife in my hand. When someone says go... we try to kill each other. Unless you're Rob Latham.. I will kill you almost every time.

People that use that saying generally have no idea how fast an aggressor can close the distance... and have no practice at drawing and firing while under real duress.


Ahh, the blatantly misleading argument is always a fun one. Yes, the person who's gotten his weapon of choice ready and is within range has an advantage over someone who's not in a similar position. Now, let's take that gun and put it into the hand of the person wielding it, and give them the same levels of tactical awarness and preparedness as the knife wielder.


Then we'll go get a pine box for our knife wielding friend.

Blogger Vox June 22, 2012 12:12 PM  

I'll happily go for the non-genuine kind of free trade, then. My question is still, does your argument against free trade depend on it including unchecked immigration, or does it work for the non-genuine kind as well? And if it does work, why bring immigration into it?

You don't seem to understand that is necessarily part of it. There is no free trade that doesn't involved unlimited immigration and emigration, by definition. I'm not the one bringing the free movement of peoples into the picture since that is intrinsic to free trade. That being said, there are no shortage of other problems with free trade that are not related to the free movement of peoples aspect.

the casual relationship is the opposite of what vox originally stated...

No, it's not. You're not thinking the matter through. Furthermore, you don't seem to understand that I have not presented most of my case yet. Instead of simply paying attention to the topics that have been discussed, you keep trying to leap ahead and blundering, with regards to what you imagine my case to be as well as your proactive attempts to attack it.

Focus on what is actually there, folks. Not what you imagine will be there, or what you erroneously include will have to be there as a consequence.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:14 PM  

"So long as you are not, it ain't "free" trade; it's subsidized trade."

I sell X to Y... and use the money to buy Z from Walmart.

How is that subsidized again?

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 12:14 PM  

there are these things called treaties that nation states enact to govern such things....

LOL! So we are right back where we started: nation-states bargaining for the best terms of trade for their nation. You, sir, are a statist fascist pig.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:16 PM  

"Ahh, the blatantly misleading argument is always a fun one."

I am well aware... which is why I carry both.. and you should too. I just wanted to point out that there is a time and a place where a knife wins. Guns are not magic trump cards.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 12:16 PM  

So long as you are not, it ain't "free" trade; it's subsidized trade."

I sell X to Y... and use the money to buy Z from Walmart.

How is that subsidized again?


Because that's not what's happening.

And you are a dishonest asshole.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:18 PM  

"There is no free trade that doesn't involved unlimited immigration and emigration, by definition. I'm not the one bringing the free movement of peoples into the picture since that is intrinsic to free trade. "

See I don't accept that either. American company A can sell to country B all the live long day. That doesn't mean we have to let the B's in.

Anonymous scoobius dubious June 22, 2012 12:18 PM  

"At what point is it moral to threaten someone with physical force to prevent him from trading with another person?"

Sometimes the point is "at" one location, and sometimes it's at another. And sometimes it's somewhere else yet again. There is no absolute, Platonic conception of an ideal "point" like the boiling point of water or something.

Economics is about ordinary human stuff, and ordinary human stuff is not constant.

Also, preventing somebody from doing something is not always tantamount to "threatening" them: sometimes you just make it sort of annoyingly cumbersome for someone to do something and that prevents them, sometimes you offer them a more attractive alternative, etc.

When I was a kid, I had to attend school. So I went. I didn't think there was a shrieking Nazi poking a bayonet in my back, ready to stab me if I didn't go; it seemed like a reasonable thing to do, my parents told me I had to, they explained to me the benefits of going, so I did. I suppose at some extreme level the state might have intervened if I had constantly refused to go; but that would have been odd and unusual, not the norm. Just because cops have guns, it doesn't mean they're going to shoot everybody in town.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:19 PM  

"Because that's not what's happening.

And you are a dishonest asshole."

No one is saying that is what is happening. What we are saying is that is how it works in a non-fiat system.

We're focusing on the non-fiat system to point out that it is the fiat system that is the problem.. not the trade.

The fact that you can't follow along doesn't make me dishonest.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 12:20 PM  

No, it's not. You're not thinking the matter through.

I go to walmart and buy a thousand dollars of velveeta with a credit card...you then say, "it's walmarts fault you got into debt! if there was no walmart to sell you stuff, you wouldn't be in debt!"

in reality, the only reason I was able to buy the velveeta was because I had the credit card...

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 12:24 PM  

LOL! So we are right back where we started: nation-states bargaining for the best terms of trade for their nation. You, sir, are a statist fascist pig.

I'm pointing out that you don't need a supranational entity to facilitate free trade.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 12:25 PM  

in reality, the only reason I was able to buy the velveeta was because I had the credit card...

Just to summarize, that's that pesky externality/subsidy part.

But keep on preachin' that free trade gospel. Nobody else, not the Chinese, not the Fed, not OPEC, not George Soros, not the donors to Reason and Mises Institute, not the CFR, not the AEI, nobody believes in actual "free" trade. They just want you to keep on believing in it.

Anonymous pdimov June 22, 2012 12:28 PM  

Daniel: Restricting a Mexican's ability to cross a border is a restriction on your ability to employ him.

It doesn't restrict my ability to employ him in Mexico. This is free international trade in labor.

Yes, yes, I know, this is not genuine free trade. So what? Every protectionist on the planet considers it free trade. Do you have an argument against this kind of non-genuine free trade?

Free traders always argue for a superstate, or else they ignore the requirements for free trade, one of which is a mutual or authoritarian governing body.

Of course not. As Nate points out, one species of free trader argues that we should not have tariffs, regardless of what the other countries do. Another species of free trader argues that the optimal arrangement is for all countries to not have tariffs, as opposed to all countries having reciprocal tariffs. That is, if all countries have a reciprocity policy of having a tariff that is the maximum of the tariffs of the other country, that the optimal strategy is for all countries to drop their tariffs to zero. There is no superstate involved here.

Anonymous Rusty Shackleford June 22, 2012 12:30 PM  

Jesus, you'd think two adults who probably agree on a large portion of their beliefs could argue without treating each other like idiots.

Anonymous Stilicho June 22, 2012 12:31 PM  

And my contention is that fiat currency and debt cause the trade imbalance, not the other way around.

The idea being that once the gold is spent on imports, the importing nation has to create more wealth (production in excess of consumption) or else, reduce its imports to a level that can be sustained by its wealth production, because it cannot simply print more gold?

As Vox pointed out re: dollars, gold does not have to return to the U.S. The increase in debt under the dollar system and the decrease in savings/wealth under a gold standard are similar, but the diverge where the accumulation of debt allows you to postpone the reckoning whereas there is a more immediate reduction in living standards under the gold system if you spend too much.

So, in the end, you are saying that being forced to feel immediate effects from running a trade deficit would act as a check on the willingness of nations to run a trade deficit right?

Is there any commensurate check on the willingness of other nations to run a trade surplus?

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:33 PM  

" Just to summarize, that's that pesky externality/subsidy part. "

No. That's the fiat money part. See its a CREDIT card... not food stamps.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 12:35 PM  

But keep on preachin' that free trade gospel. Nobody else, not the Chinese, not the Fed, not OPEC, not George Soros, not the donors to Reason and Mises Institute, not the CFR, not the AEI, nobody believes in actual "free" trade. They just want you to keep on believing in it.

I'm not preaching any gospel, I'm trying to make you defend your position, and if "global elite conspiracy" is the best you can do, I don't think you're doing a very good job of it.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:35 PM  

"As Vox pointed out re: dollars, gold does not have to return to the U.S. The increase in debt under the dollar system and the decrease in savings/wealth under a gold standard are similar, but the diverge where the accumulation of debt allows you to postpone the reckoning whereas there is a more immediate reduction in living standards under the gold system if you spend too much."

And if the gold doesn't come back to the US... then it means the US purchased poorly... and thus has motivation to purchase more wisely the next time around.

These trade risk factors make the system better. Not worse.

Try again.

Anonymous Stilicho June 22, 2012 12:35 PM  

"You stand 10 feet from me with your side arm in your holster. I have a knife in my hand. When someone says go..."

Heh heh, I already lost the fight by agreeing to your preferred setup instead of my own. Here's my idea: I'm 100 yards away with a high-powered rifle and scope. You have a knife and no cover. Nobody says go, I fire at will. Suddenly I like my odds.

There's a metaphor in there somewhere about all this trade business, and yet somehow I can't seem to put my finger on it.


Don't bring a bag of skittles to a gunfight.

Anonymous pdimov June 22, 2012 12:36 PM  

Vox: You don't seem to understand that is necessarily part of it. There is no free trade that doesn't involved unlimited immigration and emigration, by definition.

This definition of free trade renders the discussion pretty boring. It would be much more interesting to hear your argument against the not-really-free trade, the one not involving unlimited immigration.

Anonymous Scintan June 22, 2012 12:36 PM  

Of course not. As Nate points out, one species of free trader argues that we should not have tariffs, regardless of what the other countries do. Another species of free trader argues that the optimal arrangement is for all countries to not have tariffs, as opposed to all countries having reciprocal tariffs. That is, if all countries have a reciprocity policy of having a tariff that is the maximum of the tariffs of the other country, that the optimal strategy is for all countries to drop their tariffs to zero. There is no superstate involved here.

Except for the little problem of not being able to rely on everyone being an honest broker. You do, in fact, need a watchman.

Without one, your lettuce sits rotting on the docks while the foreign customs agent is busy with his inspections.

Or, to put it another way, as Nate's misleading gun/knife argument is an example of, there's always a way to game the system if there's nobody there to keep things on the up and up.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:36 PM  

Trade deficits... like GDP and Unemployment... are useless statistics that gain us nothing. It is mal-investment to even track them.

Anonymous AE June 22, 2012 12:39 PM  

"Also, preventing somebody from doing something is not always tantamount to "threatening" them: sometimes you just make it sort of annoyingly cumbersome for someone to do something and that prevents them, sometimes you offer them a more attractive alternative, etc."

How is that not a threat? What happens if someone fails to comply? Every law must be supported by the threat of physical force.

Anonymous Stilicho June 22, 2012 12:39 PM  

These trade risk factors make the system better. Not worse.

Try again.


Read it again. I was summarizing the "fiat, nit free trade is the cause" position.

Fact is, it is a logical position. I need to think about it some more.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 12:39 PM  

Without one, your lettuce sits rotting on the docks while the foreign customs agent is busy with his inspections.

then maybe sell lettuce to someone else...

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:40 PM  

"Without one, your lettuce sits rotting on the docks while the foreign customs agent is busy with his inspections."

Right. And so then one stops selling lettuce to that country. Oh well.

I say... seller beware.

Anonymous Daniel June 22, 2012 12:41 PM  

pdimov
This definition of free trade renders the discussion pretty boring.

That's the only definition of free trade that exists. The dictionary is not always a full-blown orgy of pleasure, delight, and intellectual titillation.

But it is kind of important when talking about things, stuff, and other doo-dads. Boring or not, it is correct.

Anonymous cherub's revenge June 22, 2012 12:41 PM  

Look retard, we don't have a shortage of low skilled labor here...so why would free trade cause an influx of low skilled labor?

At what price, fuckhead? Where'd all these Mexicans come from after NAFTA? Where's the shortage now and why are they still here?

Or are you going to pull the "no true free Mexican" argument like some twat did on the thread yesterday?

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic June 22, 2012 12:42 PM  

No. That's the fiat money part. See its a CREDIT card... not food stamps.

Fiat money is a huge subsidy to its upstream recipients. Surely you know this.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:42 PM  

See... its very simple. We don't care who our companies sell to... nor do we care who our people or companies buy from. nor do we care what happens to the products they try to sell overseas.

Not our problem.

Anonymous stg58 June 22, 2012 12:42 PM  

"Because imports must ultimately be paid for in exports."

No... see they can be paid for with Gold... or silver... or all manner of things.

So try again.


They can be paid for in land, banks, Oil and gas deposits, technology, our national future, etc.

Anonymous Scintan June 22, 2012 12:43 PM  

"Without one, your lettuce sits rotting on the docks while the foreign customs agent is busy with his inspections."

Right. And so then one stops selling lettuce to that country. Oh well.

I say... seller beware.


You're posting some really stupid things today, Nate. Did you not get enough sleep?

Anonymous Stilicho June 22, 2012 12:43 PM  

It is mal-investment to even track them.

Unless someone thinks he can tax you to pay for them.

Anonymous Josh June 22, 2012 12:43 PM  

At what price, fuckhead? Where'd all these Mexicans come from after NAFTA? Where's the shortage now and why are they still here?

gee I don't know, dipshit, maybe because of the WELFARE STATE...

Anonymous Lysander Spooner June 22, 2012 12:44 PM  

The "Nation State" is an abject failure and it's demise is on the horizon.

The "Nation State" is the enemy of the "People", it's interest is polar to the interest of the citizenry.

Free trade/fair trade .....blah, blah, blah.....nothing but an intellectual circle jerk, you two: Gary North and Vox should go have a beer.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:44 PM  

"At what price, fuckhead? Where'd all these Mexicans come from after NAFTA? Where's the shortage now and why are they still here?

Or are you going to pull the "no true free Mexican" argument like some twat did on the thread yesterday?"

Oh yes... of course... NAFTA did it... not a massively increased wellfare state... not failed regimes and drug wars in mexico... hey and lets ignore the fact that there were million of illegals here well before NAFTA.

Anonymous Daniel June 22, 2012 12:45 PM  

pdimov
It doesn't restrict my ability to employ him in Mexico.

That qualifier is a restriction on free trade. Free trade, by definition, means you could employ him anywhere you need him to move. The fact that you have a subset of employees who do not necessarily need to move does not mean you have free trade. Free trade only exists when the labor is free to move - both from the laborers perspective (if necessary) or the employers perspective (if necessary.)

Your non-free definition of "qualified free trade" is not under debate. You are changing definitions to suit your position.

Blogger Vox June 22, 2012 12:47 PM  

Yes, yes, I know, this is not genuine free trade. So what? Every protectionist on the planet considers it free trade. Do you have an argument against this kind of non-genuine free trade?

I already answered your question. Read my previous answer again more closely.

Anonymous scoobius dubious June 22, 2012 12:47 PM  

"American company A can sell to country B all the live long day. That doesn't mean we have to let the B's in."

But that's not how it really works. What actually happens is, an elite forms that for reasons of its own, wants to sell freely to B, n'importe quoi. This elite figures out a way to persuade (or buy) a government that will permit its preferred method of trade with the B's. But this elite also forms a culture, which has its own mores and interests and ways of thinking, which may have nothing at all to do with "Americans" and may in fact be more sympathetic to the B's or the E's; or it may see a comparative advantage against those dumb redneck Americans by flooding America with B's. Or any number of things.

One way or another, one morning you wake up and here are all the B's, living right next door, taking over your schools and hospitals and yapping in that incomprehensible B language of theirs. How did they get here? It didn't logically follow, and yet, here they all are.

The elites leveraged access to the nation's infrastructure and stable institutions that they didn't build (wow, turns out those dumb rednecks did) as partial payment to the B's, to offset the far lower wages the B's have been offered. Much better to be poor in America than poor in B-land. Ask the elites and their lackeys why they did all this, and if their explanation doesn't satisfy you, well you're a racist and you deserve everything that's coming your way. Which will be a lot, if the elites and the B's have anything to say about it, and they do.

North America is superb real estate: it's spacious, it has great infrastructure, a good climate, lots of water, and it's not very environmentally degraded. Not only do the B's want it for themselves, but also the C's, the D's, the E's, the F's, the G's...

"Hot AND cold running water, indoors? Wow, not like we had back home in Shittistan! Not only am I never leaving, I'm bringing over my whole extended family, all 60 of them -- and THEY'RE never leaving either!"

Wash, rinse, and repeat.

Anonymous pdimov June 22, 2012 12:48 PM  

Daniel: That's the only definition of free trade that exists.

Too bad that so few people use it, then. But fine, have it your way. Now, do you have an argument against the not-quite-free-trade, or not?

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:48 PM  

"You're posting some really stupid things today, Nate. Did you not get enough sleep?"

Do tell... why is it the government's job to make sure Company X can sell stuff in Place Y?

That's between the company and the country... not between the governments.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:50 PM  

"But that's not how it really works. What actually happens is, an elite forms that for reasons of its own, wants to sell freely to B, n'importe quoi. This elite figures out a way to persuade (or buy) a government that will permit its preferred method of trade with the B's. But this elite also forms a culture, which has its own mores and interests and ways of thinking, which may have nothing at all to do with "Americans" and may in fact be more sympathetic to the B's or the E's; or it may see a comparative advantage against those dumb redneck Americans by flooding America with B's."

This again... is caused by the State. Not by trade.

Anonymous 11B June 22, 2012 12:51 PM  

The observable fact is that if you scratch a free trader, you reveal the globalist underneath.

I am just going to let you know now that I am going to use this quote, often.

Anonymous stg58 June 22, 2012 12:51 PM  

"If a country continually runs a trade deficit, that country's wealth is going elesewhere. "

I have a trade deficit with Wal-Mart... OMG! I'm going broke!


Did you buy from Wal-Mart with a credit card? If so, you have a trade deficit, you owe them money. Then they get to extract interest from you for the price of them loaning you money. China is doing the same thing to us, but instead of paying them interest, we pay them with our collateral. Land, oil & gas, banks, etc.

Anonymous Scintan June 22, 2012 12:52 PM  

"You're posting some really stupid things today, Nate. Did you not get enough sleep?"

Do tell... why is it the government's job to make sure Company X can sell stuff in Place Y?

That's between the company and the country... not between the governments.


You can't have "free trade" in the context of this discussion if you've got one side rigging the game, Nate, because then it's not a "free" system. You generally would know that. Furthermore, you also know that such "inspections" can be done while seeming to be absolutely normal, if you don't have some entity checking for anomalies.

If you're going to be this mentally off today, maybe you should be outside doing something physical in order to get your head right.

Anonymous scooby dubious June 22, 2012 12:57 PM  

"See... its very simple. We don't care who our companies sell to... nor do we care who our people or companies buy from. nor do we care what happens to the products they try to sell overseas.

Not our problem."

Actually, it's simpler than that. If your not caring makes it a "problem" for your next door neighbor, then he is likely to share his problem with you by making it your own.

Better factor in the costs of all those bodyguards. Is this a way to live?

I hear Rio's nice this time of year; just don't stop at the traffic lights.

Anonymous Shild June 22, 2012 12:57 PM  

Vox-You're not going to get no world governments. You're going to get one world government. Your denial of the obvious consequence is no more convincing than the European elite who denied that the Common Market would ever be a government.

Have you defended the claim that free trade necessarily leads to one world government? Or are you relying on historical causation, as with your "trade deficit/debt" connection?

Stilicho-Don't bring a bag of skittles to a gunfight.
What if you're a spectator?

Anonymous Shild June 22, 2012 12:58 PM  

"causation" should be "correlation" above.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 12:58 PM  

"You can't have "free trade" in the context of this discussion if you've got one side rigging the game, Nate, because then it's not a "free" system. You generally would know that. "

Non-sense. Free Trade is not a closed system. It simply lets people trade with those they wish without interference. The US can practice free trade simply by not interfering.

if others interfere on their end... not our problem.

There is no requirement of putting guns to their heads and forcing them to be free as well. They are providing reason enough to ignore them... so you ignore them... and trade with others who aren't stupid.

I should point out that this is not my position. Generally I prefer a small unilateral tariff on all imports... because I believe there are ancillary benefits to domestic goods that imported goods do not provide... and... its the best way to fund a government with respect to liberty.

I am arguing the free trade position at this point because the counter arguments are so pathetic... that I can't bear to see them go unchallenged.

but more and more I find myself wanting to distance myself from both sides... as Gary North appears to be the biggest retard on the planet.

Anonymous cherub's revenge June 22, 2012 12:59 PM  

I really don't see the down side to this from where I'm sitting.

Then you need to move your seat. I would suggest Somalia.

Anonymous Shild June 22, 2012 1:03 PM  

You can't have "free trade" in the context of this discussion if you've got one side rigging the game, Nate, because then it's not a "free" system.

Sure you can, because the other side can take their business elsewhere. They're not forced to pay the tariffs.

Anonymous scoobius dubious June 22, 2012 1:04 PM  

"This again... is caused by the State. Not by trade."

As if these things were cleanly separable, in this or any other world.

"...your lettuce sits rotting on the docks while the foreign customs agent is busy with his inspections.

then maybe sell lettuce to someone else..."

Too late. Your lettuce just rotted on the docks. You have nothing to sell. All your capital was invested in that crop and now it's gone. You're broke.

But I guess since this is Wackyland, and you are Fungibility Man, you can just turn right around on a dime, quit the lettuce business and get a job as a groovy web designer in the bustling boomtown over in Bad Analogy City.

Anonymous VD June 22, 2012 1:04 PM  

This again... is caused by the State. Not by trade.

You might want to read Popper on Marx. It's not caused by the state. The state is merely the instrument utilized.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 1:04 PM  

"Actually, it's simpler than that. If your not caring makes it a "problem" for your next door neighbor, then he is likely to share his problem with you by making it your own."

So lets see...

Dumb Female A goes to frat party... gets drunk... wakes up... and decides she's been raped.

Am I supposed to care?

No.

Dumb Company B ships some goods to CrapHole D where they rot waiting for inspection.

See how that works?

Risks.

They exist.

Deal with it.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 1:05 PM  

"You might want to read Popper on Marx. It's not caused by the state. The state is merely the instrument utilized."

Horse. Crap.

If I ain't got a hammer... I ain't drivin' no nails. Popper clearly wasn't a carpenter.

Anonymous pdimov June 22, 2012 1:05 PM  

Then you need to move your seat. I would suggest Somalia.

Somalia is awful, it's at 164th place in the rsf.org press freedom index. Haiti, at 52nd, is a much better destination, ahead of Italy at 61st.

Anonymous VD June 22, 2012 1:07 PM  

Have you defended the claim that free trade necessarily leads to one world government? Or are you relying on historical causation, as with your "trade deficit/debt" connection?

No, I've simply pointed out the obvious. Mr. North has not yet seen fit to question that point. But I am not appealing to history here, merely following the logic.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 1:08 PM  

"No, I've simply pointed out the obvious. Mr. North has not yet seen fit to question that point. But I am not appealing to history here, merely following the logic."

Mr North has been your most inept debate opponent to date.

And that's saying something.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 1:09 PM  

I'm not a free trader... but if I was a free trader... I would seriously consider changing camps just to disassociate myself with his idiocy.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 1:11 PM  

"Too late. Your lettuce just rotted on the docks. You have nothing to sell. All your capital was invested in that crop and now it's gone. You're broke."

If you were stupid enough to risk all your capital on one deal... then you deserve to be broke... and your business will be taken over by someone far smarter than you... which will improve things for everyone.

Keep digging Nancy.

Anonymous Shild June 22, 2012 1:12 PM  

Vox-No, I've simply pointed out the obvious.

I don't pretend to be as smart or knowledgeable as you are, so it's perhaps not very surprising that the "trade deficit/debt" connection and the "free trade/one world government" connection both look like big leaps to me.

And once again, it's bizarre to here you of all people call other people "citizens of the world" and "barbarians" for insufficient loyalty to a country you left for your own personal benefit.

Anonymous Scintan June 22, 2012 1:12 PM  

"You can't have "free trade" in the context of this discussion if you've got one side rigging the game, Nate, because then it's not a "free" system. You generally would know that. "

Non-sense. Free Trade is not a closed system. It simply lets people trade with those they wish without interference. The US can practice free trade simply by not interfering.

if others interfere on their end... not our problem.


That's bullshit, and you know it, because free trade requires honest brokers, or tariffs can be created in other ways such as the one I mentioned. Your argument is nothing more than "we can have free trade even if we don't have free trade, because we can go somewhere else and not have free trade their either."

It's disappointing to see you off your game this much, Nate. Maybe this should turn into a firearms thread to get you back on track.

Blogger Joshua_D June 22, 2012 1:12 PM  

Hey ... how about a recap. If I'm remembering correctly, Vox's initial claim against free trade was basically that free trade, in theory, necessarily leads to an standard of living equilibrium among all people involved, and as such, it would necessarily lead to a lowering of the standard of living in the wealthier areas.

Is that correct?

If that's correct, then the question of whether free trade is "good," ie. morally right, would depend on your perspective. That is a moral argument that can't be answered through economics. Right?

Anonymous Scintan June 22, 2012 1:13 PM  

There, not their. My apologies.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 1:14 PM  

So lets see... Its the government's job to make sure our businesses get to sell things safely else where.

So what else is it our government's job to do? They are supposed to make sure we have safe products like food and medicine? Hey yeah... awesome... lets get an FDA.

This line of reasoning can be used to justify every single abomination the government dreams up people.

Limited government or not? your choice.

Anonymous Scintan June 22, 2012 1:16 PM  

f you were stupid enough to risk all your capital on one deal... then you deserve to be broke... and your business will be taken over by someone far smarter than you... which will improve things for everyone.

Keep digging Nancy.


For crying out loud, Nate, come on. All I have to do is create a marginal advantage for my side in order for there to be a de facto tariff. I don't need to destroy the foreigners. If an extra 1% of the foreign lettuce rots on the docks, I've created an effective 1% tariff.

Blogger Nate June 22, 2012 1:16 PM  

"That's bullshit, and you know it, because free trade requires honest brokers, or tariffs can be created in other ways such as the one I mentioned. Your argument is nothing more than "we can have free trade even if we don't have free trade, because we can go somewhere else and not have free trade their either." "

If literally no one plays along... I'll say again... I don't care.

Babysitting american business interest is not a power I see given to the US Government... and in fact...its one I would specifically deny it... because as Vox and Popper point out... its a power that will cause more harm that good.

Anonymous 11B June 22, 2012 1:18 PM  

pdimov June 22, 2012 10:21 AM

Daniel, a Mexican crossing the border is not trade, and hence, restricting his ability to cross the border is not a restriction on trade. Restricting my ability to employ a Mexican is a restriction on trade.

Does your objection to free trade depend on free trade necessarily including the ability of Mexicans to cross borders? Is it rendered invalid without it?


If you are concerned that free trade should not include the free movement of labor, then look at it this way. Free trade will lead to a common market, and a common market will lead to the free movement of labor. As VD has explained before, check out the progression of the eventual EU. If the North American Union ever takes place, I doubt it won't allow the free movement of peoples throughout North America.

I don't want to change the demographic profile of the USA. I was perfectly happy with a 88%, European, Christian population and am alarmed that this 88% has now dropped below 70% and will drop below 50% in the next 40 years. That doesn't give me a good feeling. So naturally, regardless of the arguments for free trade, if there is the slightest possible chance that free trade will lead to a common market, then I want no part of it.

Many would say that it is already too late and that our future is baked in the cake. Be that as it may, I still am not looking forward to copying the demographics of Brazil.

So in the end I'd rather be poorer, if indeed free trade makes one richer, and live in a culturally friendly NATION than be wealthier living in a bazaar.

Now,

Anonymous pdimov June 22, 2012 1:18 PM  

Have you defended the claim that free trade necessarily leads to one world government? Or are you relying on historical causation, as with your "trade deficit/debt" connection?

No, I've simply pointed out the obvious.


Obvious? A world power's military superiority leads to one world government, not free trade. Imposed free trade is then a consequence.

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