I think of myself as being pro free trade. I read a recent article that has caused me to reassess this position and wonder if the notion of free trade in the modern world isn’t delusional. I’ll share with you the thoughts of the author.
First, thanks to the Bay Area Patriots for forwarding this to me. With regard to the author, he is Craig Schwartz, a retired business director of a Fortune 100 company and has been involved in chemical markets for 38 years and managed multinational high technology chemical businesses.
I am only reproducing a portion of the article and invite you to read it in its entirety.
[Source: America’s Path to Greatness: Border Adjust Oil, by Craig Schwartz]
[From the Schwartz article with minor modifications] It is time America asserts its own national self-interest. Our foreign policy should ensure fair international trade for American companies and individuals.
There is an ongoing debate on free trade versus fair trade. I believe under our current circumstances, free trade is an illusion. Free trade was repudiated in 1971 when President Nixon suspended the Bretton Woods gold standard and implemented de facto fiat currencies. All countries have evolved to various forms of mixed economies since the Bretton Woods monetary and trade system was signed in 1944. All countries are now a mixture of freedom and government controls — a mixture of freedom and force ranging from mostly free to repressive dictatorships. Free trade cannot exist without objective currencies, a level playing field of laissez-faire capitalism and a complete separation of state and economics. Any trade involving the mixture of freedom and force is not a free trade; it is trade by national coercion. (Currency manipulation is alive and well on the world marketplace – RF)
Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group has characterized this as “when the Chinese government comes into a room, they’re bringing to the negotiating table their military, their political system, their economy, their diaspora, their propaganda tools, and everything else.” On the other side of the table sits the American businessperson with marketing tools of product, price, place and promotion. I know, I have been there many, many times.
Anyone that advocates for free trade in the current world context of mixed economies and fiat currencies is totally naïve. Americans were naïve in thinking that if we played by the Bretton Woods’ rules that everyone else would follow. Our competitive disadvantage is self-imposed from our altruistic culture. (As I have posted many times, I have no problem with individuals who choose altruism, but IT IS NO WAY TO RUN A GOVERNMENT – RF) We have swallowed the idea of globalism, the idea that nations should put the interests of the entire world above their own. Our foreign policy needs to assert our own national self-interest and defend the freedom and individual rights of our citizens and should therefore ensure fair international trade for American companies and individuals.
Schwartz goes on to propose a proper approach aligned with America’s self-interest. I will not comment on this, but must say that his analysis of the un-level playing field of so-called “free trade,” I found to be enlightening. I hope you did, as well.