In Global Trade, We Need Equal Protection from All Governments

Yesterday we wrote of, here at home, the long lost beauty of equal protection before the law, which the 14th Amendment of our Constitution mandates – but our government almost never delivers.

By forsaking this important tenet, we opened wide the door to cronyism – with government playing favorites amongst private sector players. Decades later, we have a heinous patchwork quilt of laws and regulations – oft even contradictory rules that have been time and again warped to the will of the highest bidders.

The result is anything but a free market economy. Want to know why our nation has basically stagnated for decades? A crucial component of the sclerosis is our government’s steadfast refusal to treat everyone equally.

But as brilliant as our Constitution is – it is not the original font of this particular piece of wisdom. The idea that government should treat everyone equally – goes back a bit further. At least to ancient Greece – and Aristotle: “The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.”

That’s good news. It means it’s timeless – and without boundaries and borders. Which means we can – and should – apply it to everything. Including global trade.

Every global trade participant state’s domestic laws and regulations – of course affect international trade. If any state is engaged in unequal protection before the law – playing favorites amongst its domestic businesses – those businesses transmogrify those domestic advantages into international ones when they enter the global trade market.

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A state subsidizes a commodity, or emplaces tariffs protective of that commodity, or engages…