Scapegoating “Free Trade”

The following is a response to Dealing with Killers and Kidnappers: The High Cost of Free Trade, by Cyril Mychalejko:

See, I’m not an expert, so perhaps you can enlighten me.

It seems to me as though “free trade” and “free traders” are often blamed for problems that they did not cause. Here, Mr. Mychalejko disparages “free trade” and “free traders” for no reason other than that Chiquita, Inc. supports terrorists and that the Governments of Colombia and Guatemala abuse and neglect their citizens. 

Mr. Mychalejko takes for granted that if a business corporation does a thing, it necessarily does it in furtherance of “free trade”. This is a fallacy. If Chiquita, Inc., and other businesses in Latin America are getting their way through intimidation and coercion, then they are deviating from the free market, not participating in it. For that, they should be fully prosecuted so that free trade may be restored.

(This is not to say that Chiquita’s malevolence is isolated. It may be the norm where businesses and governments prevail in their criminality. This is only to say that such malevolence is not of the free market. It is a deviation therefrom.)

How “free trade” receives the blame for the Colombian and Guatemalan governments’ abuse and neglect of their citizens is beyond me completely. If Mr. Mychalejko believes that the United States Government should not structure trade agreements that benefit such coercive, anti-free-trade regimes, then he should argue that. No self-respecting “free trader” would ever trade with the purpose of supporting such regimes, anyway. They may, however, choose to trade with the people living under those regimes, in spite of those regimes.

Because I have not read the details of the trade agreement in question, I do not know what it purports to do. So what I’d like to see before I can offer a reasoned opinion on this particular matter is a listing of the provisions of the trade agreement to which Mr. Mychalejko objects, and the reasons for each objection. I suspect that Mr. Mychalejko and I will probably object to the same provisions for the same reasons, but that he will label his objections as “promoting free trade”, whereas I will label my objections as “promoting crime and coercion”. I would appreciate it if he adopted my phraseology, and placed the blame where it properly belongs.

Read the full text of the proposed agreement here.  I haven’t, yet.

5 Responses to Scapegoating “Free Trade”

  1. Nik Varrone says:

    Good arguments in support of True free trade Tim. I picked up a few good arguments here. I agree that the problem here is a company that is allowed to get away with criminal behavior. Seems like there are so many corporations that are allowed to get away with murder while free trade takes the beating for them.

    I know you’re not defending this point but I don’t know if I agree with free trade for all governments. I do think that free trade with other democratic and freedom loving governments that support equal rights, liberty, organized labor, and fair system of justice is a very good thing though and that should be encouraged.

    • autofyrsto says:

      I know you’re not defending this point but I don’t know if I agree with free trade for all governments.

      Well, yes, actually. I do sympathize with this point of view. But again, the problem is not trade. Trade helps. The problem is despotism. Trading with despots helps despots. Like I said, “No self-respecting ‘free trader’ would ever trade with the purpose of supporting such regimes, anyway.” There’s not much sense in helping the enemies of free trade by trading with them.

  2. […] About the Author « Scapegoating “Free Trade” […]

  3. […] is that PhillyIMC writers consistently criticize free-market capitalism very sharply (see, e.g., my criticism of the PhillyIMC article Dealing with Killers and Kidnappers). As a laissez-faire libertarian, my […]

  4. Nathan says:

    I think it’s important to point out that yes, the despot may benefit to one degree or another, especially in the short term, but it is equally true that wealth, healthy, freely trading societies and people would be far more likely to break free from the reign of despots than poor and malnourished peasants.

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