Free trade: bad idea or bait-and-switch

Gary North believes it is the latter:

What was the bait and switch? This. Lure intellectuals and then politicians into a lobster trap of one-world government by means of the promise of greater wealth through free trade. Create free trade alliances that are in fact not free trade but rather trade managed by international bureaucrats. This is a combination of low tariffs and detailed regulations of production and distribution. Economic regulation favors large multinational firms that can afford lots of expensive lawyers. This regulatory system creates economic barriers against newer, more innovative, but under-capitalized competitors. In short, use the bait of greater national wealth to persuade national leaders into agreeing to a treaty-based international government that requires member nations to surrender much of national sovereignty. The final stage is the creation on centralized regional governments that absorb national governments into an immense international bureaucratic system that regulates most areas of life.

The arguments favoring free trade go back to David Hume in 1752, and later to his friend Adam Smith, whose Wealth of Nations (1776) presented a comprehensive case. Liberty is more productive than statist bureaucracy.

Free trade simply means that two people can legally agree to an exchange if they choose to. Simple. The idea of voluntary exchange is hated by those producers who cannot compete effectively, but the case is both logical and moral.

The reason why the Rockefeller Foundation paid F. A. Hayek, Wilhelm Röpke, and Ludwig von Mises to write books on international trade was to provide the economic bait.

Raymond Fosdick went on John D. Rockefeller, Sr.’s payroll no later than 1913. He went on Junior’s payroll no later than 1916. He had met Fosdick in 1910. Fosdick was one of Woodrow Wilson’s protégés at Princeton. A brief summary of his career is here. It does not cover his time at the Versailles Peace Conference, where he and Jean Monnet worked together in 1919 to create the League of Nations. It does not mention Monnet. It also does not cover his time as Junior’s personal lawyer and advisor, 1920-1936. His brother Harry was on the board of the Foundation from 1917 on.

Another Wilson protégé was John Foster Dulles. He was the grandson of John Foster, Secretary of State under Harrison, known as “the fixer.” He was also the nephew of Robert Lansing, Wilson’s Secretary of State, who helped take the government into World War I. He was Secretary of State under Eisenhower. He was the defense attorney for Harry Emerson Fosdick in Fosdick’s 1924 trial for heresy in the northern Presbyterian Church. He had been one of America’s richest lawyers in the 1930’s. He was a committed globalist. He was a deal-maker between American firms and the Hitler government until a revolt in his own firm got him to stop. He was an early promoter of the World Council of Churches, founded in 1948. He also presented a program in the 1930’s for creating an international government funded by a low tax on international trade that would be created for the sake of huge firms — his clients. They would be exempted from national tariffs.

These men were globalists. They proclaimed the doctrine of free trade, but always with this proviso: free trade was the bait for creating an international government with managed trade.

My belief is Gary North is gradually stumbling his way towards the truth, which is that there is no bait-and-switch, the globalists genuinely believe in free trade because free trade destroys nations and national sovereignty. After all, no less a personage than Karl Marx supported it for precisely that reason; he considered it a weapon in the arsenal of international socialism.

But regardless of whether they do or not, note that even this staunch defender of free trade is observing that free trade is a trojan horse. Therefore, it should be opposed on that basis alone, even by those who genuinely believe it increases national wealth in any and all circumstances.