For once I agree with Robert Samuelson in conclusion. Today, he discusses free trade and looming efforts to fight against it. It’s not a clear article, but I think I get the gist. Free trade is good. Efforts to inhibit free trade are bad. Yep. I’m not sure he’s as close to absolutism on that as he (and everyone) should be, but some is better than none.
This passage is off, though.
We are dealing with something new here. It transcends traditional protectionism, which tries to shield specific industries and workers from imports. It’s trade obstructionism: a reflexive reaction against almost any trade agreement.
All protectionism is trade obstructionism. Always has been, always will be. We can argue whether or not there are scenarios where retaliatory of defensive protectionism is warranted, but that’s not what he’s saying. There’s protectionism, which can be justified, although he doesn’t offer scenarios. And then there’s obstructionism. I guess the difference is intent, but results speak a lot louder than intent. Sober drivers don’t mean to kill other, innocent motorists, but they can do so just as easily as drunks.
“Good” intentions within government don’t guarantee good results. As such, government shouldn’t interfere.