Free trade expands consumer choice and gives businesses incentives to improve product quality and to cut costs. By increasing the supply of goods, international competition helps hold down prices and restrains internal monopolies… Despite the powerful case for free trade, both the United States and the rest of the world are highly protectionist, and always have been. This is because free trade benefits the general public, whereas protectionism benefits a relatively small group of special interests. – Thomas J. DiLorenzo

Trade – both domestic and international– is the lifeblood of civilization. Trade, both within our country and across its borders, increases consumer choices. In addition, under open trade conditions, businesses can purchase resources and components more economically so they can keep their costs down and thus make their products more affordable for consumers.

By cutting off trade, taxing imports and/or exports, slapping quotas on imports, and erecting any other barriers, government policies reduce living standards of their own citizens and those of other countries.

President Trump’s imposition of tariffs on foreign producers of steel and aluminum constitutes an attack on foreign workers, but it will inevitably cause economic harm to American workers too. Not only will it make foreign products more expensive here, but foreign nations are likely to retaliate with tariffs of their own, making American goods less competitive in those countries and endangering the very jobs the tariffs were ostensibly imposed to protect! I oppose President Trump’s misguided protectionism. It is nonsensical that he relishes the idea of “trade wars,” and actually thinks that we can win them.

Beyond the utilitarian arguments in favor of free trade, however, is something much more important: Trump’s tariffs infringe on our freedom.

The American people’s money belongs to them. It doesn’t belong to the federal government, or anyone else. It’s theirs. It’s their private property.

Since the people’s money belongs to them, they have the right to do whatever they want with it — save, donate, invest, spend, or even burn it. That’s what the right of private property is all about — the right of the owners to do whatever they want with what belongs to them, so long as aren’t violating the rights of anyone else.

When President Trump authorized new tariffs on foreign producers, he is infringed on the economic liberty of the American people and their right to purchase whatever they want from whomever they want on whatever terms they find satisfactory. Unfortunately, all too many Americans, even though they continue to celebrate the Declaration of Independence, passively accept the destruction of their natural, God-given rights at the hands of their own government. Americans need to oppose attacks on their economic liberty as fervently as they would oppose the President if he were attacking their freedom of speech, their religious liberty, or their right to vote. I will lead that fight in the Senate so that American living standards will not be threatened, and peaceful global trade will increase.