Isolationist vs. Non-Interventionist [was: Re: HB 139]

Charles Curley charlescurley at
Fri Jan 25 17:39:19 MST 2008

On Fri, Jan 25, 2008 at 11:53:18AM -0700, Bryan Sant wrote:
> On Jan 24, 2008 6:29 PM, Charles Curley <charlescurley at> wrote:
> > I can understand that. Free trade != "fair trade". "Fair trade" is a
> > euphemism for massive government intervention into international (and
> > hence domestic) trade, which a free trader would oppose. As The
> > Economist has pointed out for over a century, you are better off
> > dropping your own trade barriers whether your trading partners do so
> > or not.
> Although I've been defending the need for a tariff on foreign goods, I
> can absolutely see the abuse that could happen with that.
> Being genuinely naive about this topic, do you have any links?

No, I don't, sorry. I can't even thing of an article on The
Economist's web site. One place to check might be The
Foundation for Economic Education has much good material at the
intelligent layman level; you might check there.

One of the things that drove a wedge between the North and South early
in the XIXth Century was the use of the tariff. To grossly over
simplify, the South was largely agricultural, and wanted to be able to
import goods, especially manufactured goods, from Europe. The North
was industrializing and saw the tariff as a means to force the South
to buy (much more expensive) goods from the North. So the North raised
tariffs again and again. The South (Calhoun, e.g.) called it the
Tariff of Abominations. You might google on that. That was one of the
precursor issues that lead to the War of Northern Aggression.

One effect of the high tariff was to drive the South away from
machinery and from mechanizing their farms. They turned to alternative
sources of mechanical power, one of which, unfortunately, was slavery.

This is not to say that a very low tariff would not be acceptable even
to staunch free traders. But it should be low, universal and uniformly
applied. And its sole purpose should be to fund federal
operations. But the "tariff of abominations" clearly was none of those


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