Imagine if the federal government was in charge of trade in America and that it had to go to each state to negotiate trade treaties; that it was in charge of setting the price of goods, the amount of goods allowed into each state, and all the terms of trade, for fifty states. If such a system was instituted it would create a mountain of red tape. Bureaucracies would be erected everywhere. Enforcement would be needed. Prices of goods would need to rise to pay for the bureaucracies and the new laws. And, of course, the consumer would foot the bill.

 

Such a system would be ridiculously inefficient, but that system now exists throughout the world -- between countries. How many times have we heard Donald Trump say that "I will make great trade deals." Deals are what guide trade today, not markets. We take it for granted today that the President should be the boss of bosses and decide the terms of trade for all industries and businesses in America. Congress actually is in charge of trade treaties, but the power has been usurped by presidents throughout the years and has gone unchallenged, and prevails to this day.

For the same reason that I would not want to see this become business as usual between the fifty states in America, I oppose trade treaties among countries. They are totally unnecessary, are costly, and only serve to confuse things. Britain has a perfect opportunity to reject this business-as-usual tradition regarding the absolute necessity of trade agreements. The new government, who and whatever it is to be, is already being criticized for not having a ready-to-go plan as to what they will do to ensure the continuity of trade with the European Union.

Why do anything? Why is it governments job to set the terms of trade? Why not simply announce that Britain remains open for business and state that anyone wanting to purchase goods from British companies are welcome to do so. Why complicate things by creating a go-between, between businesses and consumers.

When we go to a grocery store to buy our groceries, we look at all the competing products, choose the one we want, and that's it. No deal by government was necessary. All of the deal making was in the free market as competing companies vied for the space on shelves. If their products sold, the grocery store would buy more. If they didn't, the product would be dropped. The consumer is in charge in free market economies. This should be the model of all trade domestic and international. 

If you want an example of the reverse system where deal making prevails, I give you our present health system. When we go to pick up a prescription at our local pharmacist, we ask for "pick up". We are then given a prescription. We are not told what it is, how much it costs, what brand it is, or even whether the brand has changed. Then we are told how much we owe. That is because all of those decisions are made by the government. They made the deal as to all the details for us, and we the consumer have nothing to say about it.

Turn around, and a few steps away from the pharmacy, are hundreds of over-the-counter medicines and medical products on isles and isles of shelves. We have a dozen different brands to choose from, a range of prices, and multiple choices as to things like daytime use versus nighttime use, the degree of strength of medicines and the quantity desired.  We can buy most medicines in tablet, gel, or liquid form. We have a multitude of choices in the free market of medicine and none in the government controlled market.

It is two different worlds and two different systems. One is the free market world and the other is the world of government deals -- decisions taken away from the consumer and the producer and dictated by a politician or bureaucrat.

All Britain needs to do to continue to produce and sell its products is to declare its doors are open to anyone wishing to buy its products and let businesses take it from there.

 

Finally, I would suggest Britain drop all tariffs and impediments to trade and allow everyone to come to Britain and shop. Instead of negotiating new trade deals that take years and years and thousands of pages that only the lawyers understand, a simple invitation will do.

To all those telling us citizens that politicians will make better deals than private enterprise will, I say "No Deal"! Freedom works!

I suggest that everyone re-read the great Scottish economist Adam Smith's classic book "Wealth of Nations" and revert to free trade. Britain was the beacon of free trade in the 18th and 19th century and reaped the benefits of that system and became known as Great Britain.

So it can be again.

Paul Nathan

Paulnathan.biz