The Corner

Trade

I hadn’t seen Derb’s post until I read Peter’s. I respect Steve Sailer’s intellect too, Derb, but it’s sad to see him embracing every bit of paleocon dogma. Sailer disproves the theory of free trade only if that theory is taken to mean that any tariff, no matter how small and no matter what other policies are in place, will ruin an economy. I suppose there are some free traders whose fervor leads them to suggest that, but proving it wrong does not invalidate stronger forms of the theory.

Peter points to one of the minor ironies of early American history: the fact that Jeffersonian supporters of revenue tariffs were willing to impose higher tariff rates than the Hamiltonian supporters of protective tariffs. I would also note that Hamilton did not believe in tariffs on goods that were used by American producers–such as steel and semiconductors in modern times–and thought that the tariffs were an important complement to a policy of mass immigration.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.