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Tariff Reform Will Tax Poor Men’s Cupboards to Save Rich Men’s Pockets

May 15th, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized by

The slogan “Tariff Reform Will Tax Poor Mens Cupboards to Save Rich Mens Pockets”, was adopted by liberals of the distant past, but it remains just as true in today as it was then. 15th May is the anniversary of the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, an early victory by Liberals and others in the battle for free trade. The Campaign was mounted by the Anti Corn Law League led by the 19th Century Liberals Coben and Bright.

The global credit crunch and associated recession is encouraging some to argue for protectionism. Gordon Browns attempt in farce when the slogan ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ was apparently rejected by his own party and adopted by the BNP instead.

As Classical Liberals it is critical that we continue to expose the folly of protectionism from the past, such as the Smoot Hawley tariff act

The explanation of the effect of protectionism in the past by libertarians and others has played a central role in stopping protectionism in the current recession, and thats a good reason to celebrate today the sucesses of 1846.

Ed Joyce


12 Responses to “Tariff Reform Will Tax Poor Men’s Cupboards to Save Rich Men’s Pockets”

  1. Jock Says:

    While the Tories promoted tariff reform before WWI the workers’ song went:

    “Tariff Reform means work for all, work for all, work for all.

    Tariff Reform means work for all

    – there’s plenty of work in the work-house.”

  2. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    The only British politicians I’ve heard speaking out against protectionism have been Nigel Farage & Daniel Hannan.

    Of course across the pond Ron Paul has consistently argued for low tariffs & free trade

  3. Jock Says:

    Well, you may only be listening to Nigel Farage and Dan Hannan then. To be fair, both Nick and Vince have been warning against protectionism – most notably Nick if I recall correctly in his Harrogate conference speech.

    The point about the “tariff reform” song was that no tariff reform is good. Only tariff eradication.

    As Henry George wrote, “Protection is the mother and father of monopoly” (I think – something like that – in the introduction to his book “Protection or Free Trade”, for which even the Labour chancellor Philip Snowden wrote a foreword for a 1930 edition).

  4. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    I have been listening to Daniel Hannan & I like what I hear..he’s got my vote bext month.

    The only thing I’ve heard Nick Clegg say about trade was buy British

  5. Jock Says:

    There is of course a difference between encouraging people to buy British where appropriate and tariff induced protectionism.

    I agree with you on Hannan – though I prefer Carswell myself. Personally I don’t think “The Plan” goes far enough and seeks to preserve a bit too much of the current system than I would want. They need to learn about genuine cellular democracy I think.

    But as I say – you’ve clearly not been listening to many Lib Dem speeches recently. Clegg’s at Harrogate amongst other things said:

    “We mustn’t turn in on ourselves, we must turn out – and remain the open, tolerant society we really are. I asked myself, this week: what on earth is Gordon Brown doing, lecturing the US Congress on protectionism…When he uses protectionist rhetoric himself? Who can forget his “British jobs for British workers”? And when he still hasn’t challenged protectionism in Europe.”

    The Economist, in its review of Vince’s “The Storm” writes amongst other things that Vince “calls on politicians to resist the clamour in many countries, particularly America, for beggar-my-neighbour protectionism.” And of course a previous book of Vince’s was “Protectionism and Industrial Decline”.

  6. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    Hmm Carswell is supporter of direct democracy which is something of a dichotomy with liberty.

    Its pretty obvious to me that the direct democracy would constantly infringe individual rights.

    However Hannan I’ve heard speak up in favour of constitutional restrain of government, which is more my cup of tea.

  7. Ed Joyce Says:

    Ziggys comment concerns me as does this

    Although there is a big difference between voluntarily buying British and putting in trade barriers I can see that we are being misunderstood as a party. I would rather see a narrative that said ‘we will do what is for the good of Britain which is to export high quality goods and services’. Its so easy to say ‘buy British’ and it makes a good soundbite but the purpose of ideology is to hold true values against populism. The problem with populism is that you can end up with two contradictory populist statements and end up confusing the electorate.

    Fortunately this is speciality of Gordon Brown rather than our party as we do actually have a consistent set of ideals to work from.

  8. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    I wonder if you did a survey thorough out the Lib Dem membership how many support would truly support free trade & lassie faire markets.

  9. Bishop Hill Says:

    Lassie faire? Is that something to do with comely Scottish girls, or hairy dogs?

  10. Julian Harris Says:

    I very much like the idea of “lassie faire”. When’s the next train to Glasgow?

  11. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    ha ha you can take the piss all you can take the piss out of my typo but you know the point I was making..most LibDems wouldn’t be in favour of laissez faire capitalism

  12. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    No wonder why people from Birmingham sound so miserable they haven’t figured out that its not the government’s job to safeguard jobs.

    This is a prime exanple as to the mentality which libertarians are faced with in this country…people always looking too government for answers.