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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 95-96 Francis Sayre, Sr.‘s, 1939 book, The Way Forward: The American Trade Agreements Program, as quoted on page 739 of Douglas Irwin’s great 2017 volume, Clashing Over Commerce:

While we are in the very midst of these hair-trigger negotiations, seeking to win an agreement with real profit for both sides, high-powered lobbyists make their voices heard throughout the country, using every device to prevent the giving of concessions in the particular commodities in which they are interested or to defeat or upset the agreement.  Pressure is brought against members of Congress; Washington is deluged with inspiring letters and telegrams.  The country rings with the protests of special interests; unhappily few seem sufficiently concerned to speak for the interest of the consumer or of the Nation.

DBx: Sayre (a son-in-law of Woodrow Wilson) was among the free-trader Cordell Hull’s lieutenants in the State department soon after the enactment in 1934 of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA).  U.S. Secretary of State Hull and his trade team at the State department understood that reciprocal trade agreements are – in this world in which governments are unavoidably beholden to special-interest producer groups – among the best practical ways of moving the world toward freer trade.  (I emphasize, again, that support for the good – freer trade – that can be achieved through trade agreements does not imply opposition to the ideal for each country of unilateral free trade.  My support for freer trade made politically possible through trade agreements no more implies that I reject or discount the ideal of the U.S. adopting a policy of unilateral free trade than does, say, my support for a three-percentage-point cut in the capital-gains tax imply that I reject or discount the ideal of complete and permanent elimination of capital-gains taxation.)