“‘The other nations of the world are working very hard to open up markets for themselves,’ he said. ‘I want to make sure the negotiations benefit America. Signing agreements doesn’t mean anything for our workers if they’re not enforced.’—so says Romney as reported by someone named Jennifer Colton for the Greenwood Index-Journal, reproduced on http://www.mittromney.com in a post titled, strangely, Romney calls for “Ideology of Strength”

“Romney’s solution to the trade dilemma is creating what he called the ‘Reagan Zone of Economic Freedom.’

“‘The Reagan Zone is a group of nations engaging in trade and living by higher regulations and safety standards,’ he said. ‘Let’s create a global zone of economic freedom to create the large free-trade area in the world. We can promote American goods and services on a global scale if it is fair.’

“The zones would create a ‘true level playing field’ for trade, he said, and involve enforcement of regulations and currency exchange.” … etc., etc.

This is not free trade, dear readers. What Romney proposes is the antithesis of free trade, the precise antithesis of free trade. What Romney proposes is some species of so-called fair trade, which requires a “true level playing field” that takes the form of trade, regulatory, wage, and, yes, tax harmonization. Here is the problem: to administrate a boundary-spanning trade regime will require a boundary-spanning tax, labour, and regulatory regime—it will also require a budget and a governing, adjudicating, and deliberative assembly of its own. Think: WTO or NAFTA, only writ large, very large, with the same power to override local ordnances, statutes, laws etc.

If we read Romney by way of Colton correctly, what Romney proposes is to eliminate regulatory competition—and tax competition too, otherwise how can our trade be fair trade if our producers and exporters are unfairly burdened?—on the model of e.g. the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

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