The Corner

Re: Farrago of Fallacies

Sorry, Peter, I got carried away with the alliteration there. But you know

you DID say: “…and, perhaps most important,…” Which seems to suggest

you think that this consideration is not a trivial one.

The expression “free trade” certainly contains the word free, but then

(and at the risk of being charged with reductio ad Hitlerum) so does the

expression “Arbeit macht frei.” There is, as I am sure you know, a critique

of free trade from the libertarian point of view. As I recall, it goes

something like this: (1) Govts must finance their operations _somehow_.

(2) Those, like post-Civil War America, that finance their operations from

import tariffs, have little need to tax their citizens. (3) Their direct

expenses are footed by foreign manufacturers. (4) Which, since foreigners,

and domestic purchasers of foreign goods, will put up with only so much,

puts a ceiling on the govt’s appetites. (5) Untaxed citizens are freer than

taxed citizens. (6) To be sure, they are paying indirectly — via higher

prices for imports — for the operations of their govt. (7) But they do not

have to endure the intrusive and liberty-hostile activities of a vast and

insatiable govt tax-collection service.

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