Townhall/ Kurt Schlichter: I like free trade – I just don’t like snooty ideologues who won’t take their own country’s side in a trade fight. The ideal market means a willing buyer and a willing seller paying a mutually agreed price for goods or services with minimal government interference. That’s called “capitalism,” and as a business owner and someone who digs prosperity, I really like it. So why am I not wetting myself about Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs?
Cue the True Conservatives™ to tell me it’s because I’m stupid and terrible and awful. I know how they work. It was only a few years ago that I might have been with them. And they aren’t totally wrong opposing trade barriers – in the macro, free trade is a powerful engine of prosperity, the most powerful ever devised. But the key part of “free trade” is the “free” part, and they never want to talk about that when it comes to holding the foreigners accountable.
My question, one a lot of Americans before me have been asking and that no one seems to want to answer, is “When does this free trade stuff actually start?” I mean, if we’re going to have free trade, we all understand that this involves us lowering our barriers to imports. Fair enough. We have dropped our barriers – the trade deficit is enormous. We buy from everyone. We got importing stuff down. But what about the other guys, though? We export a lot, to be sure, but is it on equal terms?
We never seem to hear much about that from the Free Trade Crew – a crew I was a part of not long ago, and with which I still sympathize. It’s a simple question – “Do foreigners have exactly the same barriers to entry to their steel and aluminum markets as the United States does?”
And if not, why the hell should we put up with it?
Again, cue the calling me dumb and economically illiterate and stuff. That’s been the default reaction of my party’s establishment whenever members of our party who believe they are being hurt by foreigners who put up high barriers that keep our stuff out while we drop ours and let the competitors dare to complain.
“Hey GOP, unfair trade practices are hurting me!”
“Shut up, economic illiterate! There’s no problem. You’re imagining it. Shut up.”