Harry Browne on Free Trade

2000 Libertarian Nominee for President


Shut down welfare state, and let immigrants come

Q: Mr. Phillips, open our borders up? Mr. Browne advocates dissolving the Immigration Service, getting rid of the Border Patrol, and anyone who’s here illegally, let them stay?

PHILLIPS: I disagree with Harry. I oppose amnesty for illegal aliens. My grandparents were immigrants to this country. I thank God that when they came, they were required to be self-supporting. They could not have gotten in if they posed a health problem. They had to learn how to speak English. The real problem is welfare. As long as people are coming to the United States to stick their hand into the federal cookie jar, they’re coming for the wrong reasons.

BROWNE: The distinction is very clear, as Howard puts it. But the answer is to shut down the welfare state. Shut down the welfare state and people will filter themselves out. They will only come here when they’re looking for the land of opportunity.

Source: Third Party Debate on Meet the Press , Oct 22, 2000

Tariffs cost Americans $70B a year

The government prohibits some imports and taxes others. The politicians say this saves American jobs and protects American companies from “unfair” competition. But the real reason is to reward the industries with the most political influence.

The principal barriers to imports are tariffs (taxes on imported products) that make foreign goods more expensive for you to buy. The tariffs also make American products more expensive by increasing the cost of imported raw materials. And the tariffs make some foreign products so expensive they can’t compete here-leaving you no alternative to more costly American versions.

In addition, when it’s in the interest of companies with the right political connections, foreign products can be banned entirely from the US because of questionable claims that they hurt the environment or their prices are unfairly low.

Import barriers cost Americans about $70 billion a year-roughly about $700 for every American household.

Source: The Great Libertarian Offer, p.138 , Sep 9, 2000

Sweat shops abroad disappear as workers gain wealth

Are poor working conditions a reason to restrict imports? Those who want to exclude foreign products call foreign factories sweat shops. American children stopped working in sweat shops at the beginning of the 20th century. The sweat shops disappeared as expanding technology made workers more productive, and as America’s poorest adults could afford to get by without sending their children to work. When people in poor countries can start accumulating capital, working conditions will improve there as well.
Source: The Great Libertarian Offer, p.141 , Sep 9, 2000

Replace WTO & NAFTA with uniformly low tariffs

Q: Should China be granted entry into the WTO? A: The important question is whether the US should be in the WTO, and the answer is no. Free trade can not be achieved through committee negotiations and lengthy regulations. The US should immediately spread the existing tariff revenue evenly over all imported products, reducing tariffs to roughly 2%. Tariffs should never be used as a political tool to reward influential industries and companies.

Q: So, should we withdraw from all international trade organizations like NAFTA, GATT, and the WTO? A: Yes.

Source: Email correspondence from the candidate with OnTheIssues.org , Jan 27, 2000

Let in the huddled masses

Browne does not support any INS activities nor any immigration restrictions. He says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free!”
Source: 2000 National Political Awareness Test , Jan 13, 2000

Open trade policy without NAFTA or WTO

Source: 2000 National Political Awareness Test , Jan 13, 2000

Russia: No aid; no meddling; just free trade.

Browne does not support increasing nor continuing economic aid to Russia & the former Republics. Browne would offer “no government aid whatsoever. We can do more for Russia by providing free trade, by refusing to meddle in Russian affairs, and by providing the example of a free country.”
Source: (X-ref Foreign Policy) Project Vote Smart, 1996 , May 1, 1996

Replace all government aid with free trade

Browne does not support foreign aid to close allies; to countries which support US security interests; nor under extraordinary circumstances or disasters. Browne supports “no government aid to any country,” instead “providing free trade.”
Source: (X-ref Foreign Policy) Project Vote Smart, 1996 , May 1, 1996

No import tariffs, regardless of human rights

Browne does not support imposing tariffs on products imported from nations that maintain trade barriers against American products, and disagrees that the US should consider the human rights record of each nation before granting most favored nation trading status.
Source: (Cross-ref to China) Project Vote Smart, 1996 , May 1, 1996

Cuba: Lift the trade embargo

Browne supports lifting the trade embargo imposed against Cuba.
Source: 1996 National Political Awareness Test , May 1, 1996

Against NAFTA and WTO

Browne does not support extending NAFTA into other western hemisphere countries, and does not support the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Source: 1996 National Political Awareness Test , May 1, 1996

Free trade guarantees peace better than military

The greatest guarantor of peace isn’t a strong military. It is free trade among countries. When people can buy & sell freely with another country, they have good reason to discourage their leaders from going to war with that country. This interdependence is a far more reliable guarantor of peace that foreign aid, arms sales, and treaties.
When a government excludes other countries from sources of raw materials of from markets for their wares, it undermines the economic motives for maintaining peace.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by Harry Browne, p.148 , Jul 2, 1995

“Trade aggression” meaningless, since both sides benefit

Politicians describe foreign trade as though it were a war between countries-with winners & losers. But, for example, every one of millions of Japanese cars was bought by an American who wanted it. Providing what someone wants isn’t aggression. Barring Japanese companies from selling cars is forcibly preventing Americans from getting what they want-which is aggression. Most politicians miss the whole point of international trade. It isn’t a game or a war. Each transaction benefits both sides.
Source: Why Government Doesn’t Work, by H. Browne, p.149-50 , Jul 2, 1995

No China in WTO, because no need for WTO

Q: Would Browne, if elected President, sign into law or veto a bill which allowed China to enter the WTO?

A: Browne would veto it, not because he doesn’t believe China should be in the WTO, but because he believes there is no need for a WTO. Browne believes in free and open trade with all countries, including China.

Source: Phone interview with Jim Babka, Browne’s Press Secretary , Aug 9, 2000

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Page last updated: Oct 01, 2016