by Rod D. Martin
July 20, 2020

I have been asked recently about my thoughts on free trade in light of recent events with China, and also Brexit. I thought I’d share them with you.

First, lest we be unclear: I deny that any deal the United States has ever signed other than the U.S. Constitution constitutes actual free trade. Pretending otherwise makes a mockery of the very concept of free trade, which I strongly support.

However, that doesn’t mean I’m not for opening up trade as much as possible, so long as the deals we make are good. And “good” must be defined in terms of benefit to the country our leaders represent, the United States of America. They are sworn to protect and defend Americans, 328 million moms and dads and kids and grandmas who depend on their leaders to look out for them, not someone else somewhere else. It’s not that we don’t care about those people: we do. It’s that you have to pay the rent, buy groceries, and pay for dental work for your own kids before you do it for anyone else.

Lots of the trade deals we’ve made since World War II have been weighted, sometimes heavily, against America and toward the other side. Many of those deals were perfectly sensible, especially when we were going out of our way to prop up poorer allies during the Cold War.

Today there’s no Cold War. There hasn’t been for 30 years. If there’s a war on anyone today, it’s on the American worker, especially manufacturing workers. And if there’s any foreign enemy, it’s clearly China, to whom we’ve given up the most in these same deals.

How’s that working out?

Donald Trump has had the courage to try to rectify that. Believe me when I tell you, that’s the source of a lot of the opposition to him. The Communists don’t play nice. And they spend their money lavishly to support those who’ll support the status quo, which they rightly see as key to their becoming the world’s dominant power, very much at our expense. They also know they’re running out of time to achieve that global dominance (see my piece on demography, lower on my wall).

Now of course we want as much free trade as we can reasonably get: real free trade enriches everyone, because trade barriers are actually taxes paid by our own people. But as I said at the outset: America has never signed a true “free trade” deal other than the United States Constitution. So the question isn’t whether we’re for free trade or not: the question is whether a particular trade deal actually makes trade freer, versus merely rewriting the not-free rules to benefit one special interest or another. All so-called free trade deals so far have done the latter, some of them to our benefit, some of them not. 

We should start by including the United Kingdom — the world’s fifth largest economy and our closest ally — in USMCA (a significant, though imperfect, improvement on the now-dead NAFTA): that will cause serious angst in the EU, and possibly force their hand toward a decent trade deal with us too. And we should add all freedom-loving countries to that growing bloc as we’re able, starting with Australia and New Zealand, buttressing them against the Chinese Communist onslaught and building a wealthy trade bloc that grows richer and richer while the world’s Socialists languish. All are welcome…if they actually play by the rules.

Presidents Bush and Clinton erred greatly in thinking that they could make China play by the rules by giving them all the benefits up front. That doesn’t work with children and it doesn’t work with negotiating partners either.

Donald Trump is the first post-Cold War President to understand that. And that’s a lot of why the swamp dwellers — in both parties — who profit from China’s rise so truly hate him.

My Thoughts on Free Trade originally appeared as a Facebook post by Rod D. Martin.