Buchananism: Two Opinions

Free Trade, Free Slaves

The United States owes its origin to the trade wars of early modern Europe but its success to the Industrial Revolution, which filled America with productive, largely self-sufficient people. The history of the United States is testimony that economic growth has not occurred uniformly around the world. Some nations and empires have risen, some have fallen; others have done both, while vet others have stagnated. Compare the Pacific Rim with sub-Saharan Africa, or the countries on either side of the Rio Grande. Not only the prosperity but the security and independence of communities have depended on their relationship to a turbulent economic world. This endless struggle is the subject of Pat Buchanan's The Great Betrayal.

Buchanan's fide refers to the irresponsible management of American policymakers who believe "free trade" will automatically allocate capital and other resources fairly and efficiently across the globe. Some commentators embrace this naive notion with a passion bordering on religious idolatry; others employ free trade rhetoric as a mask for their pursuit of power, while managing trade policy to their own benefit. Yet free trade has never been very persuasive on its merits. What Alexander Hamilton wrote over two centuries ago remains true today: "There are some who maintain that trade will regulate itself, [but] this is one of those speculative...

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