Sunday, January 27, 2008

Local Production for Local Consumption versus Ever Increasing Free Trade

O.k., here's the quandary:

What should be the goal of international economic relations?

Get rid of tariffs of all sorts as much as possible and let the world "free trade" marketplace dictate what goods are produced where and for whom?

Or should we encourage individual countries to identify basic goods and services that should be produced and provided locally for local consumption, encouraging each country's economic independence as much as possible?

At this point, "free trade" is winning the day, with national trade barriers regarded as anathema. But is this good?

Does insistence on "free trade" diminish the likelihood of the long-term continuation of the sovereignty of nation-states? Does this matter?

Mahatma Gandhi advocated local production for local consumption. So did E.F. Schumacher in Small is Beautiful. If a long list of commonly used goods in each country is produced there for local consumption, this tends to promote the independence of countries. Independent countries can be a bulwark against over-arching supra-national tyranny, which may be headed our way.

The study of the need for the continued independence of countries is added by an understanding of sovereignty. The Jacobs Elements of Sovereignty give a sort of definition of sovereignty. By studying its elements, one can begin to discern its nature. Feel free to check out the Elements on another post in this blog.


Anonymous said...

Back in the early days of what is now the European Union, one of the main goals was to use the trade regulations (or the lack thereof) to do two things: to rebuild the economies of member nations (primarily to end poverty and starvation), and to ensure that no one country (like, say, Germany...) had more steel and coal than other nations in Europe and thus more military power.

The first goal is a worthy one, and I would embrace economic policies that would aid those countries in the world that are still suffering starvation.

We must be very careful about the later goal, however, and make sure that we aren't accidently making this happen. One of the big advantages that the United States has is our abundance of natural resources. I would like for our country to have an "unfair" advantage over other nations with stockpiles of important resources (like oil), not only to increase our miltary ability, but to protect ourselves from influence from foreign nations.

Anonymous said...

You spelled Gandhi wrong.