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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Why free trade should be limited to free nations

This blog and magazine are, of course, among the bastions for free traders in North America.  Unfortunately, as my focus is on one of the few places where the underlying assumptions that justify free trade don't apply (Communist China), nearly everyone in Canada has the impression I can't stand free trade.  This isn't true; I have no quarrel with free trade with India, Japan, Taiwan, and other nations truly looking to be a part of the global free market.

The point I have been trying to make is that the Chinese Communist Party has no interest in joining the free market - they would rather fold, spindle, or mutilate it to sustain their brutal dictatorship.

Today's post has some examples of what I mean.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on January 18, 2007 in International Affairs | Permalink


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So far free trade is a mythical entity.

We have had it between the US and Canada for many years now and I still pay duty and taxes, shipping and exhorbitant clearance fees on anything I import for my business.

Some stuff I cannot even get sent up here.

I don't know who benefits from free trade, but I don't think it's the man in the street.

Posted by: Duke | 2007-01-18 9:19:00 AM

Perhaps "free" trade is a misnomer.

Free-er trade is a better term. It is remarkable how smooth and efficient Canada-US trade is.

If you're looking to see who benefits from it, the answer is everyone. Even the Dippers and Liebrals managed to figure out free trade was a blessing. Ontario, their main base, has prospered under it. Like it or not, free trade is here to stay.

Alberta too has prospered because free trade committed Canada to paying the world market value for our energy sources. This prevents a direct attack on us like the NEP, but it doesn't prevent a different kind of attack like Kyoto promises to be. If attacked, we will secede - pure and simple.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2007-01-18 9:54:00 AM

First of all,I hate to burst your bubble but"nearly everyone in Canada"doesn't even know you exist.
Secondly,if you want to find the masters of"fold,spindle and mutilate"when it comes to free trade agreements,you need to look no further than the great defenders of democracy and freedom...the US.

Look....we all understand China is a brutal regime,but in the scheme of things it is far down the list of brutal regimes that have sworn to do us harm.Your one-trick pony is becoming tiresome.

Can you not find any other topics that may be a little more interesting for a bunch of Canadian political junkies?

Posted by: Canadian Observer | 2007-01-18 10:01:45 AM

Canadian Observer,

I made the one-trick-pony comment here a couple of weeks ago. You must have read it then processed it then reproduced it.

DJ may have a one track point of view, but he is prolific.

We do need stuff posted here ... boring or not.

I think he does a great job of reporting the never-ending Chinese bullshit whether we find it tiresome after a while or not.

Keep it coming DJ.

Posted by: Duke | 2007-01-18 10:31:46 AM

THAT is the exact problem.
DJ has a prolific one-track mind!
BUT,I have also seen in the past he is man enough to accept a little feedback...both positive and negative.

BTW,I used the term'tiresome'last week...so you must have got that from me.

Posted by: Canadian Observer | 2007-01-18 10:56:15 AM


Good point on "nearly everyone in Canada." I should have said "nearly everyone who reads this blog." Mea culpa.

As for the threat from Beijing, we must continue to agree to disagree, in no small part because nearly all of the "list of brutal regimes that have sworn to do us harm" (cite quotes, not scare quotes) have been supported in some way by the Communist regime itself.

You (and I'm guessing Duke) see them as different threats; I see them as different parts of the same threat.

Posted by: D.J. McGuire | 2007-01-18 11:50:03 AM

I could agree with CO if all the posts on this blog were on the same topic, but they are not. If we are not moved by a particular subject or feel nothing more can be added, then we have the choice of moving to another topic.

Nonetheless CO is correct in stating that it was and is the Americans who brought red China into the arena of "free trade" with favoured trading status no less. In order to qualify for this status China was supposed to first meet certain conditions clearly set out in writing. China has yet to meet any of them while the Americans continue to honour the rest.

Duke has a valid point also concerning the "free trade" between Canada and the US. I have failed to see any opening of borders here and continue to have to deal with duty, GST and 'handling fees'. Yet I well remember Europe before the great EU when I could drive through most borders without ever having to deal with Customs and sometimes not even asked for my passport. At the same time we touted over here the longest open border in the world, which was a lie. I am not in admiration of Europe since it is a royal mess to say the least, but they did already have more open borders even in the 60's. Go figure.

Posted by: Alain | 2007-01-18 12:21:05 PM

There is more in common between today's Liberals and the Liberals during WWII, than even the Liberals are willing to admit.

The issue for conservatives, and CANADA for that matter, is whether or not we are going to stick to the conservative principles, to the extent that we can keep Canada on the right path, and not stoop to positions of appeasement, as liberals and leftists did during the pre-WWII years.

If we stoop to appeasement, the ramifications will be far more costly that WWII.

Posted by: Lady | 2007-01-18 12:46:29 PM

Should we try to appease China or should we pressure the red regime into evolving towards democracy?

Was it a good idea to appease the nazis? Was it a good idea to work with the bolshevicks during WWII? On result was a 50 years cold war.

Posted by: Rémi Houle | 2007-01-18 2:38:06 PM


It is a very bad idea to work with people whose aim is your destruction.

The question is not simple.

Jews in Germany, pre-WWII, faced these exact issues. Those who could get out did. Most of those who failed to get out, perished. The decision to not do something, is cheap up front, but costs everything in the long run. It is like a domino effect.

Fail to make a stand today, means losing tomorrow or not losing tomorrow. Sounds anecdotal, but to me, the evidence is clear.

I think most Canadians have made a strong stand for equality of all citizens, and that very few are prepared to be blind about threats. One should never confuse Canadian amicability with appeasement.

Posted by: Lady | 2007-01-18 3:26:09 PM

What "underlying assumptions that justify free trade [and] don't apply" are you talking about?

The assumptions of free trade as I understand them:
1. Because different countries have different relative advantages, trade increases wealth.
2. Wealth is good, therefore trade is good.
3. Special interests often perceive disadvantages of trade without seeing the long term benefits (ie. Canadian vegetable farmers might oppose free trade with Africa.)
4. General interests often fail to perceive the benefits of free trade.
5. Since perceptions rarely match reality, government ought to push in the direction more free trade.

Posted by: pete e | 2007-01-19 4:34:18 PM

DJ corrected
"nearly everyone in Canada."
"nearly everyone who reads this blog."

You mean there's a difference?

Posted by: pete e | 2007-01-19 4:35:32 PM

Do you know of a free nation? I think you mean "nations that allow business to operate without constraint".

Personally, I don't think a country is "free" if (and this is only one example) quality health care is not available to all. Neither China nor the U.S. is free by this standard (necessarily incomplete as I have stated it here).

Posted by: exile | 2007-01-30 3:17:11 PM

Personally, I don't think a country is "free" if (and this is only one example) quality BEER and POPCORN is not available to all. Neither China nor the U.S. is free by this standard (necessarily incomplete as I have stated it here).

There, now for another cold one.

Posted by: Speller | 2007-01-30 3:29:39 PM

I'm with speller on that.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-01-30 3:38:27 PM

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