Free Trade, Protectionism, and Distributism

I’ve always enjoyed economics ever since my 9th grade Econ class.  It’s always made sense to me and been easy to understand.  I’m no expert by any means, but I enjoy reading things here and there on the subject.  I was taught Keynesianism in school, became an Austrian economics fan thanks to the good doctor, Ron Paul, was then turned toward protectionist ideas by reading Pat Buchanan, and now have been reading much about Distributism.  Because of my history here I found this article from The Distributist Review to be interesting.  It does address some of my questions regarding free trade, capitalism and human nature, and protectionism.  I found this paragraph to be helpful in thinking of protectionism as protecting the capitalism of my own country. The author states:

Distributists are sometimes accused of being protectionists—when we’re not accused of being socialists. Protectionists recognize the need to protect jobs within their own country. They advocate using things like tariffs and subsidies to protect national businesses from foreign trade with countries that use forced labor, subsidize their companies, or where the people are so desperate they will work in awful conditions for nearly slave wages. However, the protectionists are merely trying to protect Capitalism within their own country. They accept the same outsourcing, job relocation, and consolidation of the control of productive capital as those who advocate Free Trade, but only within their own country. The real reason the American job machine is broken is the thing Free Trade and protectionism have in common: Monopolistic Capitalism.

Next, the author also sums up the ideals of Distributism which resonate with me:

Imagine instead being economically independent. What if you owned your job, either independently or cooperatively, instead of a huge company? What if the goods and services you need for your daily life were produced locally by people who also owned their own jobs. Imagine if the government was required to provide a stable currency. Imagine if there were still dozens of car manufacturers across the country who worked together on innovating new technologies, instead of the “Big Three” who bought out their competition. The overall national economy would be more stable because each local economy would be stable. The failure of one company would not have the ability to devastate an entire region. The common man would be economically free because he would own the means of producing his livelihood. This is what Distributism aims to achieve.

Here’s the link to the whole article if you’d like to read it:


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