Tibor R. Machan
Cologne, Germany. As The New York Times reported the other
United States was among three of the most powerful economies of the world,
China and India being the others, to ground to a halt the effort at the
World Trade Organization (which recently met met in Geneva, Switzerland),
to eliminate or at least lower farm subsidies so as to open markets that
could then admit as serious participants citizens of poor countries the
economies of which are only going to improve of their farm products can be
sold globally. It is truly disgusting and embarrassing that America is
among the countries where protectionism is a major political force.
For decades, even centuries, America was dubbed "the leader of the free
world." Just what did that mean? The meaning of "freedom" in this
designation is supposed to be that America`s citizens enjoy and fervently
support individual freedom for all human beings. As Thomas Jefferson and
many other Founders proposed, the Declaration of Independence was a
commitment to the equal right to liberty, among other rights, not just of
those who would live in the new country. That liberty was deemed a basic
human rights, unalienable, that all human beings possess and was to be
secured, in time, for all. The government of the United States of American
was instituted to secure these rights but all people across the world had
them whether they were respected and protected or not by their various
A clear, unambiguous implication of the right to liberty is to engage in
peaceful trade with any willing fellow human being. If you want to sell a
horse or car or apartment house and find someone who comes to terms with
you, the right to liberty means that no one may prevent the deal from
taking place. If anyone does, the person is a criminal, plain and simple.
But protectionism is precisely the official prevention of free trade.
Farmers from Africa or anywhere else have grain or some other produce for
sale and find others who are willing to pay what they ask for it but the
government, urged on by domestic farmers who don`t want the competition,
coercively prevent the trade from taking place.
That the Peoples Republic of China would take part in such a criminal
policy is perhaps understandable, seeing that the country is basically a
fascist state, run by a bunch of pragmatic rulers who have no commitment
to individual rights, such as to everyone`s unalienable right to liberty.
India, while nominally a democracy, is not a liberal democracy and thus
also lacks commitment to individual rights. It comes a bit closer by
virtue of its partial embrace of the principle of democratic political
participation but that`s by no means enough.
In the case of the United States of America its government`s opposition to
abolishing protectionism is out and out hypocrisy. A free country that
prevents its citizens from engaging in unhindered trade with willing
people abroad is, well, a contradiction in terms. America`s negotiators
at the WTO should make an open declaration of having jettisoned the
principles of the Declaration and the Bill of Rights in favor of the
system of mercantilism, commerce dictated by the central government in
behalf of various parties who are the favorites of the rulers! That is
the very system that the Founders attempted to overthrow, the system Adam
Smith criticised so powerfully in his The Wealth of Nations–published,
incidentally, in 1776.
On top of it all, the current American administration keeps insisting that
freedom is good for all people, including those in the Middle East, such
as Iraq, so much so that young men and women ought to be sent to risk and
give their lives so that this freedom could be realized abroad. But at
the same time members of this same administration willingly comply with
segments of the American citizenry who have zero interest in human
liberty, especially the human liberty of millions of farmers abroad whose
very livelihood directly depends on their right to liberty being respected
It is very difficult, under the circumstances, to take anything seriously
that the American government declares in the name of the struggle for
liberty. All those men and women who are asked to stand up for liberty are
being deceived. It seems what they are protecting is the special perverse
interests of American farmers and other protected groups.