Traditionalism and Free Trade: An Exercise in Libertarian Outreach
by Sean Gabb firstname.lastname@example.org
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
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What is true of national distribution networks is also true at the level of international trade. British and then American control of the seas has made shipping safe from piracy. British and American control of the Middle East has externalised many of the costs of oil drilling and movement. British and American armed interventions stabilised less powerful countries for the sale of our industrial output, and then for the development of manufacturing industry in places where the local ruling classes could be bribed and assisted into making labour both cheap and docile.
These facts go far to explaining why Chinese apples undercut Kentish apples in Kent, and why it is worth concentrating the manufacture of virtually all electronic goods in a few coastal regions of China, and why most of the clothes we buy are put together in Turkish and Bangladeshi sweatshops. It goes far to explaining why, when I drive home every summer from the family trip to Slovakia, I share fabulously expensive motorways with lorries that pay a pittance per mile, and burn diesel at prices—even allowing for taxes—far below the real cost of extraction and transport, and that are carrying goods to places like Manchester and Leeds where once whole armies were employed in their manufacture.
In short, the manufacturing side of the globalisation that traditionalists denounce proceeds from a pattern of comparative advantage that makes sense only on the basis of systematic externalisations of cost.
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I read this and was literally stunned.
He makes an excellent point that the USA Rust Belt was cause by Gooferment subsidies and interference in free trade.
While no one likes pirates — except when Johnny Depp is one in the movies — the control of them to enable long distance free trade is a cost that should be absorbed in the competitive marketplace. When Gooferment steals wealth from the USA’s taxpayers to “protect freedom of navigation”, then they are subsidizing imports and exports.
Like the gas tax is impossible to “see” in the price of a can of beans, so to this “protection of sea traffic” is NOT reflect in the market price of imported goods.
That’s a STUNNING realization to me.
So to the Gooferment subsidization of ports, airports, and highways. You can’t see that in competitive purchase decision down at Walmart. If there was a “Made in America” TV, of course it would be at an absurd cost disadvantage because all the “costs” are not in the price tag.
That’s the realization this article brought to me.
Another case of Gooferment causes the problem and then causes more problems “fixing” the original problem.
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