#TBT: Ron Paul on Free Trade

When C4L Chairman Ron Paul was running for President in 2008 and 2012, many of his detractors, particularly those in the mainstream media, derided him using the pejorative term "isolationist."

But in 2016, when true isolationist policies have reared their ugly head repeatedly, from candidates in both parties espousing protectionist trade policies, the media has been silent.

As our Statement of Principles spells out succinctly, at Campaign for Liberty, "We believe that the free market, reviled by people who do not understand it, is the most just and humane economic system and the greatest engine of prosperity the world has ever known."

So because of this, it's worth looking back at some of what Dr. Paul said about free trade (not managed trade like NAFTA, or CAFTA) during his time in Congress.

June 7, 1999 - Free Trade Makes Sense

"...If someone says they are for "free trade," one must look carefully what they really mean, for the classic (and common sense) definition does not apply. All to often in Washington, free trade is used when one really means "subsidized trade," or, tax dollars being funneled to foreign governments to buy American products.

Similarly, the phrase can mean to use tax dollars to bail-out American firms for risky overseas ventures, or managed trade by the World Trade Organization to serve powerful special interests. On the other hand, those of us who oppose using the taxes of American citizens to prop-up foreign governments or American corporations are derisively called "isolationists."

There are indeed some people who are isolationists. They call themselves "fair traders," though. Exactly what this means is open to debate. All too often it involves letting the government determine what is and is not "fair" in the private trading between individuals who live in different countries.

Sadly, these definitions all hinge on the assumption that there are essentially only two options: tax dollars being used to subsidize corporations/foreign governments, or no trade whatsoever without the rubber stamp of government bureaucrats and special interest groups.

The bottom-line of both options, of course, is higher taxes for Americans. Higher taxes to finance the subsidies, or higher taxes on incoming products (and make no mistake, a tariff is a tax, paid by the American consumer).

There is another way. Free trade and free markets are, without a doubt, the best guarantor of peace. But this requires something all too few in Washington want: less government intervention.
Free trade, not isolationism or subsidization, is the most moral of instruments between men.

February 12, 2001 - "Buy American," Unless... 

"Free trade is the process of free people engaging in market activity without government interference such as tariffs or managed-trade agreements. In a true free market, individuals and companies do business voluntarily, which means they believe they will be better off as a result of a transaction. Tariffs, taxes, and duties upset the balance, because governments add costs to the calculation which make doing business less attractive."

September 21, 2009 - Trade Wars and Protectionism are not Free Trade

"Free trade with all and entangling alliances with none has always been the best policy in dealing with other countries on the world stage. This is the policy of friendship, freedom and non-interventionism and yet people wrongly attack this philosophy as isolationist. Nothing could be further from the truth. Isolationism is putting up protectionist trade barriers, starting trade wars imposing provocative sanctions and one day finding out we have no one left to buy our products."

Don't fall for the ugly rhetoric of protectionist politicians promising to "bring back jobs from overseas." Protectionism is an expensive proposition.

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