Unfortunately, there has never been a case of international free trade. Developing countries have always used tariffs to bar imports, and also supported developing industries. It’s what Japan and South Korea did to develop their economies. It’s also what the U.S. did at its beginning. It worked in all three cases.
I would believe in international free trade if every country did it and there was a level playing field. Since these things don’t exist I cannot support "international free trade."
These days, international trade is managed trade for the benefit of corporations – which I call Cosmodemonic Transnational Megacorporations. They have hollowed out the U.S. industrial base by exporting it, and have enriched dictators and tyrants in Third World countries – but not the workers exploited and impoverished by their oppressor. These workers are closer to slaves than anything else.
Free trade works between free countries; it does not work between a country that is free and one that is not. In fact, the phrase “free trade” when applied to a poverty-stricken country ruled by a dictator or a brutal junta is an oxymoron.
Here’s why: free international trade between two equal counties, say the U.S. and Canada, benefits the citizens of both countries. “Free trade” between a free country and an unfree country, say the U.S. and Zimbabwe (God knows what the place has to export) does not benefit the citizens of either the U.S. or Zimbabwe.
Such international trade between a free country and an unfree county benefits the Cosmodemonic Transnational Megacorporations, and the brutal rulers of the totalitarian countries. No one else benefits.
These corporations will hollow out the U.S. to export jobs to a totalitarian country where child slaves work 12 hours a day, six days a week, for a dollar a day. The more deluded “libertarians” support this exploitation of these children, claiming their lives are better than they would have been otherwise. They don’t know that and the claim is sheer rationalization.
None of these “libertarians” have ever heard of the English Clearances or the Scottish Clearances. The “capitalists” of those eras had the government forcibly remove people from their land and to them into the cities to work in factories.
Those factories were so horrible the poet William Blake called them “dark Satanic mills” and Charles Dickens is very well-known for writing about how horrible the places were. Yet apologists even today the people who were forced into these mills had their lives improved. They are the same people who today support child slaves, still claiming their lives are better than they would have been.
How does this managed international trade only benefit corporations and multibillionaire dictators?
Strictly speaking, no country today is totally free. Some are far freer than others. The West is still quite free. The rest of the world is not and never has been free. If it ever becomes free, it won’t be for a long time.
Richard Maybury, author of such books as Whatever Happened to Justice? and Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? divides the world into the free countries (essentially the West) and the Third World, which he calls “Chaostan.”
He doesn’t recommend anyone invest in Chaostan. Trading with them is an iffy proposition at best. As an example, a lot of companies are finally pulling out of China due to their stealing and poor products.
Again, there is no such thing as international free trade. All of it is managed trade for the benefit of those Cosmodemonic Transnational Megacorporations - which have the legal status – and rights – of persons, which is not only ridiculous but has shown itself to be a grave danger to freedom and prosperity.
Still, trade between two relatively free countries, such as the U.S. and Canada, can, and often does, benefit the citizens of both.
However, trade between a “free” country, such as the U.S., and a totalitarian hellhole, such as Zimbabwe, doesn’t benefit the citizens of Zimbabwe. In fact, Zimbabwe’s citizens are impoverished by “free trade.”
Since Zimbabwe is a totalitarian dictatorship – as is most of the Third World – free trade (sic) only enriches the dictators and his friends. The army and police forces have to be relatively well-paid. They have to be because they’re necessary to oppress the impoverished citizenry.
As David Hume wrote, “The soldan of Egypt, or the emperor of Rome, might drive his harmless subjects like beasts, against their sentiments and inclinations; but he must at least have led his mamalukes or praetorian bands like men, by their opinion.”
As Jerry Pournelle comments about Hume’s observation, “In a word, one may rule through force and fear; but there must still be some way to convince the police and other agents of power.” One of those ways to convince them is by bribing them financially and giving them power and privilege.
The citizens of those Third Word hellholes – including children – are forced into working 12 hours a day, six days a week, for a dollar a day. No matter how productive these slaves are, their wages don’t go up (or else barely budge), since it would mean less wealth for the multibillionaire tyrants.
An ideologue is someone who believes in a simplistic philosophy they think can be applied universally. They ignore reality, as all ideologues do. A lot of libertarians are ideologues and such have their minds closed to the facts.
Take the idea of tariffs. To the more simplistic libertarians they are always bad. In reality they are sometimes good. (The fact so many “libertarians” think they understand economics – but don’t – is what makes their brains hurt when faced with something that doesn’t fit into their simplistic model of the world.)
I am again going to restate some reality. We don’t have free international trade. We have managed trade for the benefit of corporations.
Corporations will always go to countries where costs are lowest, even if it’s ruled by a tyrant, even if the workers are slaves. And the money Americans spend only enriches those tyrants so they may continue to enslave and impoverish their countrymen.
Saudi Arabia, which imports hundreds of thousands of workers, does it so their "royal" thugs don't have to work
Whoever heard of a transnational corporation overthrowing a tyrant? Everyone has heard of them enriching dictators and juntas. But helping to overthrow them? It’s never happened.
Some definitions are in order. The words “freedom” and “liberty” are Western words. The concepts have never existed in any culture or country outside of Europe.
Some countries – Maybury’s Chaostan – are never going to be “free.” The countries in Africa are never going to be free. The Islamic countries are never going to be free. The countries in Asia are never going to be free.
There is a scene is Full Metal Jacket where a high-ranking officer tells Private Joker, “Inside every gook there is an American trying to get out.” Not everyone in the world wants to be an American, and they will kill us to try to prevent it.
Not everyone wants to be “free,” not in the way we define freedom. And the people in other countries are not wogs with Americans in them trying to get out.
Traditionally the U.S. has murdered millions of foreigners to force their inner American to emerge.
And that has nothing to do with free trade.