Monday, January 16, 2012

International Trade

This is a plank of my "Left-Libertarian Platform". This post may be updated to better explain the left-libertarian position on this issue, and therefore the comments section is not the best place for esoteric discussion. However, I would appreciate comments that help to clarify the left-libertarian position. Please let me know if I have overlooked an important aspect of this issue, if many left-libertarians disagree with my description of the issue, or if there is a particularly good external resource discussing this issue in depth.

America's political and economic elite have internationalized protectionism and monopoly under the deceptive banner of "Free Trade Agreements". These treaties restrict the actions of citizens on both side of the border, while transferring state powers from representative local institutions to international corporations. The entire notion of these agreements is based on the cowardly logic that our domestic economic dysfunction is caused by the economic decisions of foreign countries. Rather than fret over their "unfair" trade practices, our leaders should be focusing on removing the rot from our own institutions.

Free trade does not require hundred-page treaties; it can and should be implemented by simple, unilateral decisions to remove barriers to cross-border trade. If a foreign country wishes to offer us subsidized exports, then we should take advantage of that opportunity rather than waste time pondering what the market would look like in an idealized world where every nation adopted our preferred economic policies. These treaties are one of many ways that America's ruling class co-opts the political system of developing countries, to the detriment of the citizens of both countries, thereby fueling resentment against the USA. [see Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks]

While there are legitimate concerns about developing commercial relations with tyrannical regimes that plunder their people's wealth, such concerns are rarely a factor in deciding actual American trade policy. More often, trade restrictions are designed to protect the (often ill-gotten) wealth of American companies abroad, or suppress any challenge to American geopolitical superiority.

Left-libertarians support the following changes to American foreign trade policy:
  • End the embargo on Cuba
  • Stop demanding that trade partners enact domestic economic reforms (particularly with respect to foreign ownership of capital) as a condition for allowing Americans to trade with them.

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