The Arguments Against
Free Trade in a World

Where Land Monopoly Persists

Peter D. Haley

[Reprinted from Land and Freedom, January-February 1940]

All the free trade in the world is not going to make better the lot of the German masses. Prior to the World War the German people were faring better than the people of England despite the fact of England's democracy, because landlordism was a little less intense in Germany than in England. The mass of people in tariff-protected England today are faring as well as they did under the free trade regime of some years back.

Free trade can only intensify the suffering of the producing masses, since trade is the food which feeds the maw of rent collectors. There will be more nearly a parity of opportunity to all in a county where there is little trade. Trade breeds rent and rent is the vampire which sucks the producing masses to emaciation. Bright and Cobden soon came to realize that the benefits they expected from free trade did not materialize, that the rent collector absorbed it all and more.

Man's prosperity or well-being is determined by his relation to the land. All the tariffs in the world cannot have any influence on this. Free trade cannot affect it. There is no need of all this stupidity about free trade, trade barriers and other hokum. Man's well-being is governed by the terms on which he contacts land. There is no other formula. Free trade would be a virtue in a free society a competitive economy. It is positively harmful to the producing masses in our land monopoly society, our sweepstakes economy.

The farmers of the South and the West have been free to engage in tariff-protected commodities. There is no law against farmers processing. All the farmers need to is to meet the terms of land monopoly. Tariffs apply alike to all the ports and to every inch of our millions of square miles of free trade area. This cry of the North and East having robbed the South and the West is the sheerest bunk. The South and the West have men who have fared as well as any in the East. Too, we have our millions in poverty and distress just the same as is found under the shadows of the tariff-protected factories of the East. These lines North, South, East and West mean nothing in economics. If Texas would open opportunity to the masses to contact the land on equal terms, it would soon be seen that the masses would be faring well.

Tariffs have nothing to do with our relation to the land, and that ridiculous idea should be liquidated at the earliest moment. Free traders, free silverites and free spenders of the Doc Townsend variety are of the same breed and we should weed them out. The evils society has suffered through ages have come largely from stupidity and not rascality. We are confronted with one crackpot scheme after another. Free silver has been put to sleep but men in high places trot out another will-o'-the-wisp to take its place.

Why cannot man exercise his brain and examine the fundamentals? Why does he have to go from one hokum to another? Land is the source of subsistence. Exchange of labor is the great facilitating factor in production. The terms of bargain are governed by the terms of contacting land for production. Taxation is the instrument to set the terms of contact in a free society.