More on Free Trade by Dr. North

An excerpt:

“The defender of tariffs is a collectivist. There is no escape from this. He is a collectivist because he wants to use the state’s power of coercion to interfere with the decisions of property owners. He does so in the name of a supreme entity: the nation. The nation is sovereign. The nation exists, economically speaking, as an entity above and beyond the outcomes of a series of exchanges. The defender of tariffs begins with the concept of the supreme sovereignty in economics of a collective entity: the nation.

Protectionism is a bait-and-switch operation. The defender of tariffs says he believes in the free market, but he begins with a mercantilistic concept of the nation. He begins, not with the concept of private ownership, but with the sovereignty of the state over the terms of exchange. He does not begin with the individual, as Adam Smith did. He begins with the concept of the state and nation that Adam Smith opposed in his book.

What amazes me is the extent of the self-delusion of free enterprisers who call for tariffs in the name of the nation, and then insist that they believe in libertarianism. If you begin conceptually and methodologically with the sovereignty of the state over economic affairs, you are at best a mercantilist, at worst a communist, and always a statist. You are a welfare statist, because you believe in the forced redistribution of wealth by the state. You believe in this principle: ‘Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote.'”


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