I am profoundly disappointed that Ron Paul, popular with the folks associated with the Mises Institute — which has strayed far from the principles of its namesake — has endorsed a protectionist for president. I suppose I ought not be surprised, as I have learned by hard experience that the Libertarians and their friends cannot be trusted to defend liberty. Nevertheless, I had retained some residual respect for Paul, a Republican Congressman whom I thought at least talked sense on various economic matters.
As I have noted elsewhere, recently Paul endorsed for president Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party candidate, instead of Bob Barr, the Libertarian. As kooky as Barr’s party is, Baldwin is even worse. For example, Baldwin endorses Paul’s effort to define a fertilized egg as a person at the federal level.
Here’s what Baldwin has to say about “fair trade,” a leftist doctrine:
In order to keep jobs in this country, we need to have a trade policy that works in the best interest of the American people. To this end, I favor a tariff based revenue system, originally implemented by our founding fathers, & which was the policy of th United States during most of our nation’s history. A tariff on foreign imports, based on the difference between the foreign item’s cost of production abroad and the cost of production of a similar item produced in the United States, would be a Constitutional step toward a fair trade policy that would protect American jobs and, at the same time, raise revenue for our national government.
Note that Baldwin is not merely advocating tariffs as a least-bad tax, to be imposed evenly across the board so as to impose the least economic damage. No. Baldwin is advocating tariffs to impose protectionism, to limit free trade. He wants tariffs “based on the difference between the foreign item’s cost of production abroad and the cost of production of a similar item produced in the United States.”
Baldwin’s position is antithetical to liberty and free markets. That Paul, allegedly a sympathizer with Austrian economics, would endorse a protectionist — a protectionist! — for president is horrendous. Mises would be appalled.
Notably, protectionist proposals in the late ’20s, leading up to the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, were a significant contributer to the Great Depression. The sheer idiocy of Baldwin’s proposal cannot be overstated.
Baldwin also wants to “seal our borders and ports” to illegal immigrants — he makes no mention of expanding legal immigration — and, in a nod to the conspiracy theorists, he wants to know “what really happened on September 11th.” On this page, he doesn’t bother to specify what part of the “official” account he thinks is wrong.
Baldwin is a crackpot. Paul has sullied his own name by endorsing him.