It is now evident that the NAFTA/GATT regimes (dictated by capital) have, like other stupid deregulations, generated far more costs and problems than the systems and regulations which they replaced... at immense costs to our economy, standard of living and national security.
First, "free trade" fails the democratic test, produced as they were in secret conclaves and foisted upon a purposely ill-informed public... by capital’s media, and voted upon by "our" representatives who did not even read the bills.
Clearly, the peoples of the First World G7 countries did not rise up and say, "please force me to compete with the greater slave and see to it that all the progress of the 20th century is wiped out in a 'race to the bottom’ in order to reward an irresponsible and amoral capital."
Indeed, the NAFTA and GATT regimes represent nothing less than a coup d’etat by capital. They have created a neo-fascist and totalitarian form of capitalism – one destined (as Karl Marx predicted) to produce reaction and revolution around the world.
This is the dismal current state of an effectively forced globalization today. The vast majority didn’t want it, didn’t ask for it, and didn’t vote for it. Free trade as we know it is thus corporate fascism pure and simple.
In short, it is precisely the wisdom and freedom of the people, within their local cultures and economies, that was forcibly overridden to our mutual peril and cost. Further, the notion of Comparative Advantage is a 250 year old concept fit for yesterday’s world – i.e., one without internet, jet planes, great mobility of people and capital, etc. Even David Ricardo recognized its limitations and caveats. Today even our own CIA states we are losing our freedom and security due to an ill-considered globabalization.
In general, a truly free and costless trade can really only take place between countries of equal wages, standards, and levels of development – otherwise the forced-trade relationships are problematic and worse, particularly in an age of instantaneous capital transfer.
The real problem is a capital-defined GATT-NAFTA system. Under this regime we cannot expect business to do anything but de-employ the G7 peoples, and employ China and India starving millions - all in order to compete with other companies forced by a perverse trade regime to do the same thing. This is done because they can, and because there exists no compensating tariffs or taxes, and the people are forced to bear the immense costs and social burdens of a corrupt and undemocratic trade regime.
With an effectively forced trade regime Capital has we, the people, by the balls. We are told there is nothing we can do and that we must simply accept a corrupt and undemocratic globalization. We are to prostrate ourselves and accept capital’s ugly and irresponsible regime. We must become good neo-slaves in their global gulag. Incredibly, some imply we are "terrorists" if we protest a corrupt and self-defeating globalization – some audacious nonsense from today’s totalitarian capitalists.
It is evident we live in a raging global oligarchy today in which our representatives and Beltway whores serve ruling elites alone, while the wishes and opinions of the vast, wage-earning, majority are both hidden and ignored. This is why three un-elected guys in Belgium now meet in secret trade panels and decide America’s fate – from which there are no appeals.
What the world needs now is a system of Free Tariffs, and truly free economies and free markets as defined by the majorities. In other words democratic free markets. By removing all incentives and incentivizing tariffs the First world has guaranteed it’s own reduction to second-world status or worse and depressions are inevitable under the current system – a corrupt setup which rewards the greater slave and authoritarian systems, punishes democracy and the environment and removes the people’s ability to define their own markets and cultures. And they call if free... and they call it a trade.
We forget that the US, Japan, and Germany did not become the worlds most powerful economies, with the highest living standards, via policies of free trade. Yet many believe the Smoot-Hawley hokum foisted upon us by the legions of economists serving the interests of the few and protecting the "Federal" Reserve from proper blame. The Big Lie is in full force today and so "protectionists" are akin to communists.
Today, however, more people and economists as well now understand that the whole "free trade" thing was a mistake – an utterly naïve and irresponsible move, and one not free for the great majority to define their systems and make them suitable for the local geography, culture, state of development, or for better human rights and environmental conditions, etc.
Freedom is for we, the people, not for markets controlled by the few or corporations licensed by the people. Tariff policy is freedom, not capital’s forced trade variety wherein we have given away our markets and economy, received nothing in return (save some lower prices for a few years, and now going up unlike our wages), and placed the world into the hands of totatitarian capitalists.
In my 1993 book, Cap-Com, The Economics Of Balance, I explored the history and ideology of free trade in depth and outlined a process and system suitable for a disparate world, - i.e., one in which compensating, and incentivizing tariffs were and are today both appropriate and rational. What we needed both then and today is smart and democratic trade policies, and not a forced trade regime defined by capital alone.