The Founding Free Traders

Here’s a letter I sent to the Racine Journal Times, my hometown paper:

Alderman Dan Sharkozy’s July 11 op-ed argues that the founding fathers built trade protectionism into the Constitution. He is mistaken. The Constitution, by banning trade restrictions between the states, created what was at the time the world’s largest free trade zone. This was on purpose.

Imagine if the only outside products that Racine’s consumers were allowed to buy must come from Kenosha. Or if companies like S.C. Johnson were allowed to export to Kenosha, or nowhere at all. Even Pat Buchanan would have to admit that these trade barriers would be less than helpful to Racine’s economy. Our forebears were similarly forbidden from importing or exporting most goods from anywhere but Britain; hence a certain revolution we just celebrated on July 4.

Adam Smith, who unlike Pat Buchanan was an economist, wrote of our natural “tendency to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another.” The desire to forcibly stop people from doing so because they speak different languages or look different from each other comes from a morality that one can only hope remains foreign.

Ryan Young

Fellow in Regulatory Studies, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C.

Racine native, Walden III alumnus

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2 responses to “The Founding Free Traders

  1. Nice post. Was the letter printed?