International trade and "national sovereignty"

I too favor unilaterally scrapping quotas, tariffs, subsidies and so on. Unilateral trade liberalization has some advantages relative to bilateral measures because of the simplicity of it and the lack of potential for mischief in complicated agreements. Perhaps more importantly, advocating this approach helps promote the truth that lowering trade barriers *is* like stopping hitting one's thumb with the hammer -- it's a good idea even when another person continues hitting her own thumb. But in advocating radical policy change, we should not make the perfect the enemy of the good: If we can't get the radical approach adopted right away, we should keep pressing for it, but also support what incremental positive change we can get in the meantime, since U.S. government politicians and the public seem unlikely to accept a unilateral approach to free trade any time in the near future. Even those who share our opposition to protectionism might well say, "If the U.S. government is to drop various trade barriers, why not get the most mileage out of this action by using it as an impetus to get other governments to drop some of their barriers as well?" And they'd have a valid point. Not only would the action then become much more politically feasible, but more trade liberalization would be accomplished.

  To say that the U.S. government should only act to liberalize trade if it does so completely unilaterally so there is no threat to national sovereignty, is in practice to oppose trade reform, given the aforementioned small probability of U.S. politicians taking such unilateral measures any time soon. It's like refusing to endorse anti-inflationary measures unless the Federal Reserve is eliminated since the Fed is a threat to national sovereignty, or saying that unfunded mandates from the federal government to the states should be eliminated, but only if done unilaterally and not as part of an agreement that involved the states officially taking on more of their own expenses at the state level, since any agreement that limited the federal "right" to impose such mandates would undermine national sovereignty. After all, increasing the power of state governments within the United States threatens national sovereignty as surely as does limiting the federal government's freedom of action via international treaties. The more power individual state governments have, the more they can do things that undermine the ability of the Feds to unilaterally set national policy (i.e. exercise sovereignty). For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent meeting with new French president Nicolas Sarkozy to push climate policy that is at odds with that of the Bush administration.

Love & Liberty,
        <<< starchild >>>