How Free is Free Trade?

Free Trade?
Free Trade?

If you have fixed policies like free trade (like the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA]), then the Department of Commerce has very little role to play. If you have a strong and empowered Department of Commerce, then actions are politically driven instead of policy driven.

Either way big business/finance could control it. In the first case, it clearly is big business (or more likely finance). In the second case, it could be big business/finance or it could be a popular mandate. The popular mandate could be to protect union jobs. As it stands now, both political parties would oppose the second option! A Trump Department of Commerce would be used use to destroy union jobs. What would a Democratic Party Department of Commerce stand for?

In my opinion, there is no way of knowing from the Clinton Campaign or any other current Democratic Party activity.

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Author: Jack Sheridan

Jack Sheridan is an engineer and amateur historian with an interest in economics and technology.

2 thoughts on “How Free is Free Trade?”

  1. I think the question of whether or not trade agreements or the Department of Commerce
    will be influential going forward is an interesting one, but I also find it hard to figure out exactly what you’re getting at.
    First, The International Trade Administration is meant to improve American
    competitiveness in trade, and it is a division /within/ the Department of Commerce.

    Take look at this page:

    Also, if you look at the ITA’s 5-year plan, globalization and trade are part of their strategy:


    I think maybe that I don’t actually buy into the notion that policy and politics are as separate as you’re indicating. Policy is one of the things that is generated by politics. The people who are in administrative positions within these bureaus are politically appointed, so their policies reflect that.

    What you seem to be circling around is the conflict between unionization and global trade agreements. As a nation have handled badly, supporting those workers who have been displaced
    by technology, trade agreements, etc. has been handled very badly. We don’t have any particularly good answers. Many workers have been replaced by global technology, which ctouches on trade but is significant in itself.

    I feel like I have to kind of tease out what you’re really trying to say.

    At base, you seem to be actually talking about whether Trump or Democrats are
    worse/better for unions.

  2. I think you are seeing it well. You can have crony capitalism or crony socialism—I think the latter is a better choice. This is the direction Sanders has been moving toward. But we elected the former. Jack Sheridan

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