The Moral Superiority of Free Trade

Over the last year or so, I have attempted to show that for free traders to win the “great trade debate,” they must rethink their current, data-driven approach. This means that before getting into all of the fancy charts and historical lessons, free traders first must demonstrate that trade is foremost a moral issue, and that free traders, not protectionists, are on the “right side.” This is done simply by showing how anti-traders seek to forcibly thwart voluntary, mutually-beneficial cross-border transactions in order to transfer wealth from politically-underrepresented groups (i.e., individual consumers, service-providers, and downstream manufacturers) to other, politically-favored classes (typically heavy manufacturers or agribusiness). It is reinforced by showing how protectionism is an invisible and regressive tax that disproportionately punishes low-income American families by forcing them to expend more of their paychecks to buy protected (and more expensive) food, clothing and shelter. In short, protectionism is classic beltway politics, where special tax breaks, sweetheart deals and secretive earmarks rule the day.

via Scott Lincicome: Scoring the Great Trade Debate.