Government officials, by their very nature — or, by the very nature of the occupations they choose to pursue — are duplicitous, unprincipled, and untrustworthy representatives of any principles other than those of getting, maintaining, and strengthening their own power and tawdry glory.
The truest and best spokesmen for free trade are not any politicians you can name but, rather, scholars such as Leland Yeager, Jagdish Bhagwati, Doug Irwin, Johan Norberg, Martin Wolf, Dan Griswold, and the Cafe’s own Russ Roberts.
To find a modern politician who bleats his or her support for free trade and then to be be shocked! when that politician reveals himself or herself to be inconsistent in his or her views — or to be shocked! when he or she expresses positions at odds with the underlying principles upon which the most solid case for free trade rests — is a child’s game. Such inconsistency is par for the course for politicians. Such rogues ought never be represented as being the best champions (or even respectable champions) of any sound economic or ethical proposition.
To hold up members of the political class as offering the best arguments for free trade is akin to holding up a newly married Hollywood hunk and his drop-dead gorgeous new actress-bride as the foremost champions of monogamy and marital bliss. Maybe they were serious when they pledged publicly to each other “til death do us part,” but surely when Mr. Hunk and Ms. Hubahubahuba divorce one year from now, no one will point to their divorce as evidence that the case for marriage is wanting.
Politicians lie. Everyone used to know that, so how is it that so many people are so shocked to find out they were lied to? Are they just stupid? Or did they want to believe so bad that they were willfully clueless.
Or is this what they really want and the claims of “I’m shocked” are just a cover?