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Open Letter on Fletcher’s Silliness about Sovereignty

Mr. Ian Fletcher

Dear Ian:

You trot out in the Huffington Post the tired argument that whenever the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules against the United States, U.S. sovereignty is violated (“WTO Sides With Chinese State Capitalism Against the U.S.,” March 14).

Nonsense.  Uncle Sam has the Constitutionally granted power to enter into treaties with other governments.  The WTO is nothing more than the creation of a treaty – to which Uncle Sam voluntarily agreed – that has among its provisions a mechanism for settling disputes that arise under that treaty.  Abiding by the rulings of the WTO’s dispute-resolution panel no more reflects (as you darkly describe it) the U.S. government having “signed over the right to rule on the legitimacy of our policies” than does, say, your agreement to abide by the rulings of your homeowners’ association reflect your having signed over to a third-party the right to rule on the legitimacy of your actions.  In both cases, the anticipated benefits of contracting with others outweigh the anticipated costs, and in neither case is any party obliged to remain a party to the contract.

More to the point, if you’re so concerned about sovereignty, why do you champion government using force to strip each American of his individual sovereignty to spend his money as he wishes?  Frankly, the sovereignty that matters to me isn’t the sovereignty of the state – which so often is used to violate the sovereignty of individuals – but, rather, my personal sovereignty as a free human being.  Protectionism is a frontal and obnoxious assault on that sovereignty.

Donald J. Boudreaux