The continued existence of this site depends entirely on contributions from its readers. If you're able to, please consider donating or subscribing to CF. Thanks!



The “free trade” falsehood

The implicit question: how much does it cost if it’s free?

An American System for America Prosperity
The ideology of global free trade is not American—nor is it the free market system. America had the highest tariff rates in history at the same time we saw the greatest economic expansion in history.

Our founders understood that America could not be independent and strong if we relied on other nations for our manufactured goods. They understood the United States had the natural resources, the technology, the labor force, and ample customers at home to support domestic industry and be largely self-sufficient.

As an example to his countrymen to “Buy American,” George Washington wore a suit of American-made cloth at his inauguration in 1789. “I hope it will not be a great while before it will be unfashionable for a gentleman to appear in any other dress. Indeed, we have already been too long subject to British prejudices,” he wrote. Washington believed the United States could manufacture as well as farm, and he instructed Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton to come up with a plan to develop industry on these shores.

Hamilton’s plan, detailed in his 1791 Report on the Subject of Manufactures, called for tariffs that would raise revenues and protect infant American industries against predatory competition, and government procurement contracts to encourage American manufacturers.

The American System, also called the American School of economics, guided U.S. national economic development from the earliest days of the republic, through the Civil War, and into the better part of the 20th century. It built the United States from an agrarian frontier society into the world’s largest economy and greatest industrial power.

The American System had three basic tenets to promote domestic industry. The government would:

  • use tariffs to discourage imports, and leverage the purchasing power of government to give preference to domestic producers;
  • invest in roads, ports, dams, canals, and turnpikes—then called “internal improvements,” now called infrastructure—to facilitate commerce; and
  • regulate credit to spur economic development and deter speculation.

Congress passed the Tariff Act of 1789 as its second piece of legislation. The opening section reads, “It is necessary for the support of the government, the discharge of the debts of the United States, and for the encouragement and protection of manufactures that a duty be laid on goods and merchandise imported.”

The tax on imports raised revenue to fund the government and prevented foreign goods from smothering our own infant industries. Tariffs were the nation’s primary source of revenue for its first 150 years. Consider: we taxed foreign industries, not our own.

In 1791, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton delivered his Report on the Subject of Manufactures to President Washington. It laid out the plan for the federal government to nurture the growth of domestic manufacturing industries in the United States rather than allow the new nation to depend on manufactured goods from abroad.

Hamilton declared: “Not only the wealth; the independence and security of a Country, appear to be materially connected with the prosperity of manufactures. Every nation…ought to endeavor to possess within itself all the essentials of national supply. These comprise the means to Subsistence habitation clothing and defence.”

A diversified economy of agriculture, merchants, and manufacturing would provide opportunities for Americans of all skills, “furnishing greater scope for the diversity of talents and dispositions which discriminate men from each other,” Hamilton wrote.

Hamilton’s report stood in contrast to “free traders” who believed America should confine itself to farming, export raw materials, and buy manufactured goods from Great Britain.

NOTE: I am not an economist, nor have I ever played one on TeeWee. That said, I hadn’t realized before just how recent the Neocon obssession with “free trade” really was until I read this fascinating piece, nor had I known just how adamantly most if not all of the Founders were opposed to any such notion, ditto for several of our later Presidents such as Lincoln and McKinley. Buck Throckmorton, via whom etc, has this to say about it:

Principled Free Traders™ have often been the target of my writing, not because of my having a deep ideological hostility to free trade, but because they have used the term “free trade” as a false-flag for their globalist hostility to US sovereignty, and for their open contempt for working-class Americans.

Unlike 1990s-era free trade, which was promoted as being about reciprocal, barrier-free trade, America’s 21st Century Principled Free Traders™ have advocated for unilateral surrender to foreign mercantilism. (Mercantilism is the economic theory that a country’s wealth increases by having a surplus balance of trade, using protectionism as necessary to ensure the favorable trade imbalance.) Principled Free Traders™ favor unrestricted access to the US market for products made in hostile, authoritarian countries, while gladly accepting that those countries maintain tariffs and prohibitions on importing products from the US.

After doing a learn-to-code grave dance on those working class Americans who lost their middle-class lifestyle, Principled Free Traders™ argued that it was all cool, because products made by cheap foreign labor (and slaves) gave Americans more spending power.

As for me, the reality is that I’ve historically been more of a reciprocal free trader – what many of us called “fair trade” – than a protectionist, thus my contempt for the globalists who actively sought to harm America in the name of free trade.

Our founders and our greatest Presidents agreed that that the US must never be dependent on foreign countries for food, provisions, or the ability to secure our national defense. And even the Father of Capitalism stood for economic nationalism.

I’m proud to be an economic nationalist if the alternative is “free trade” that is designed to harm Americans.

Amen to all that, my friend. Funny, innit, how very much of the Vichy GOPe/Uniparty/Neocon agenda does indeed seem designed to damage AINO rather than to help, their indignant protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.


7 thoughts on “The “free trade” falsehood

  1. So called “conservatives” argued that one of the rock solid conservative principles is unrestrained free trade in the run up to the 2016 election because Trump dared to suggest putting tariffs in place on china and the EU.

    There is no such conservative principle and there never has been. “Free trade” is a disaster and is the primary reason I’m not a big Reagan fan. President Reagan thought that we could mow each other lawns and we’d all get rich in that service economy.

    Trump is the first president in my adult lifetime that both understands the economy coupled to prosperity and isn’t afraid to tackle the issue head on. It is the #1 reason the virus was loosed upon the world – the US economy, already headed to the moon, was set to take off in a way never seen before. They, the corrupt deep state commies had to stop it, and stop it hard lest the American people get the idea that it really is that simple.

    Reduced manufacturing = poverty
    No manufacturing = extreme poverty

    Which way do you think we’re headed and who do you think gives a damn?

    1. Ayup, t’is true. Trump is specifically commended in the article for that stand, which I remember lauding here at the time my own self.

    2. I do not think it was Reagan saying the Mow Each Other’s Lawn Makes US Rich meme.

      Also, recall how Reagan put Tariffs on Japan.

      Reagan was much closer to Trump than Bush.

      And it was HW Bush that called it Voodoo Economics and opposed Reagan.

      You are taking what the Bush Cabal did to distort “Free Trade” and ascribing that to Reagan.

      1. Nope. it was Reagan. He didn’t say “Mow lawns” but it was the same thing. Basically he said we didn’t need manufacturing, a service economy would work just fine.

        1. Can you give me a link to the speech or whatever where Reagan said that?

          How did hitting Japan with tariffs and forcing them to revalue their undervalued, manipulated currency fit with that idea?

          Japan then moved manufacturing into America. In Right to Work States like TN. The Japanese Automakers still have lots of factories in the American South.

  2. There never was Free Trade going on.

    The whole of the Chinese markets, for instance, are manipulated. The price of their currency is set by the government. You cannot buy or sell the Yuan in any meaningful amount without registering EVERY transaction with a government entity called SAFE and you have to justify each transaction to them or they disallow it. Then you have to transact at the price their government set. That’s just one Market Distortion.

    You cannot have “Free Trade” when at least one participant does not have Free Markets.

    And I haven’t even gotten to how the US and all Western Nations manipulate our own Markets.

    1. The “Free Traders” really mean raid the American economic system as no one else allows anything remotely resembling free trade internationally.

      Your “free markets” comment is spot on.

Comments are closed.

CF Archives


Comments policy

NOTE: In order to comment, you must be registered and approved as a CF user. Since so many user-registrations are attempted by spam-bots for their own nefarious purposes, YOUR REGISTRATION MAY BE ERRONEOUSLY DENIED.

If you are in fact a legit hooman bean desirous of registering yourself a CF user name so as to be able to comment only to find yourself caught up as collateral damage in one of my irregularly (un)scheduled sweeps for hinky registration attempts, please shoot me a kite at the email addy over in the right sidebar and let me know so’s I can get ya fixed up manually.

ALSO NOTE: You MUST use a valid, legit email address in order to successfully register, the new anti-spam software I installed last night requires it. My thanks to Barry for all his help sorting this mess out last night.

Comments appear entirely at the whim of the guy who pays the bills for this site and may be deleted, ridiculed, maliciously edited for purposes of mockery, or otherwise pissed over as he in his capricious fancy sees fit. The CF comments section is pretty free-form and rough and tumble; tolerance level for rowdiness and misbehavior is fairly high here, but is NOT without limit.

Management is under no obligation whatever to allow the comments section to be taken over and ruined by trolls, Leftists, and/or other oxygen thieves, and will take any measures deemed necessary to prevent such. Conduct yourself with the merest modicum of decorum, courtesy, and respect and you'll be fine. Pick pointless squabbles with other commenters, fling provocative personal insults, issue threats, or annoy the host (me) won't.

Should you find yourself sanctioned after running afoul of the CF comments policy as stated and feel you have been wronged, please download and complete the Butthurt Report form below in quadruplicate; retain one copy for your personal records and send the others to the email address posted in the right sidebar.

Please refrain from whining, sniveling, and/or bursting into tears and waving your chubby fists around in frustrated rage, lest you suffer an aneurysm or stroke unnecessarily. Your completed form will be reviewed and your complaint addressed whenever management feels like getting around to it. Thank you.

"Mike Hendrix is, without a doubt, the greatest one-legged blogger in the world." ‐Henry Chinaski

Subscribe to CF!

Support options

Shameless begging

If you enjoy the site, please consider donating:

Become a CF member!


Email addy: mike-at-this-url dot etc
All e-mails assumed to be legitimate fodder for publication, scorn, ridicule, or other public mockery unless specified as private by the sender

Allied territory

Alternatives to shitlib social media: A few people worth following on Gab:

Fuck you

Kill one for mommy today! Click to embiggen

Notable Quotes

"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards."
Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

Claire's Cabal—The Freedom Forums


"There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."
Daniel Webster

“When I was young I was depressed all the time. But suicide no longer seemed a possibility in my life. At my age there was very little left to kill.”
Charles Bukowski

“A slave is one who waits for someone to come and free him.”
Ezra Pound

“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”
Frank Zappa

“The right of a nation to kill a tyrant in case of necessity can no more be doubted than to hang a robber, or kill a flea.”
John Adams

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves."
Bertrand de Jouvenel

"It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged."
GK Chesterton

"I predict that the Bush administration will be seen by freedom-wishing Americans a generation or two hence as the hinge on the cell door locking up our freedom. When my children are my age, they will not be free in any recognizably traditional American meaning of the word. I’d tell them to emigrate, but there’s nowhere left to go. I am left with nauseating near-conviction that I am a member of the last generation in the history of the world that is minimally truly free."
Donald Surber

"The only way to live free is to live unobserved."
Etienne de la Boiete

"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

"To put it simply, the Left is the stupid and the insane, led by the evil. You can’t persuade the stupid or the insane and you had damn well better fight the evil."

"There is no better way to stamp your power on people than through the dead hand of bureaucracy. You cannot reason with paperwork."
David Black, from Turn Left For Gibraltar

"If the laws of God and men, are therefore of no effect, when the magistracy is left at liberty to break them; and if the lusts of those who are too strong for the tribunals of justice, cannot be otherwise restrained than by sedition, tumults and war, those seditions, tumults and wars, are justified by the laws of God and man."
John Adams

"The limits of tyranny are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
Frederick Douglass

"Give me the media and I will make of any nation a herd of swine."
Joseph Goebbels

“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”
Ronald Reagan

"Ain't no misunderstanding this war. They want to rule us and aim to do it. We aim not to allow it. All there is to it."
NC Reed, from Parno's Peril

"I just want a government that fits in the box it originally came in."
Bill Whittle

Best of the best

Finest hosting service

Image swiped from The Last Refuge

2016 Fabulous 50 Blog Awards

RSS feed

RSS - entries - Entries
RSS - entries - Comments

Boycott the New York Times -- Read the Real News at Larwyn's Linx

Copyright © 2024