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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 23 of Arthur Herman’s 1997 book, The Idea of Decline in Western History (footnote deleted, link added):

Yet the cultural and social transformations of refinement and politeness were only symptoms of a third phenomenon that served as the central mechanism of human improvement: the growth of commerce.  Modern civil society was above all a commercial society.  The systematic exchange of goods and services with others opened up a dimension of the rational mind that remained closed under more primitive economic conditions.  “Commerce tends to wear off those prejudices which maintain distinction and animosity between nations,” historian William Robertson wrote in 1769.  “It softens and polishes the manners of men.  It unites them, by one of the strongest of all ties, the desire of supplying their mutual wants.”

The economic case for free trade is strong.  The ethical case is even stronger, if for no reason other than that trade promotes peace.