In a sense, the free trader is a traitor. He does not want his import or export activity to be controlled, including by his own government. He seems to think, strangely enough, that these are matters of individual not collective choice.
There is another way in which the free trader is a traitor. If his own government imposes tariffs, increasing the price of what he buys, he may very well wish that foreign governments will increase their own tariffs, and that this foreign retaliation will force his own government to back off. Foreign governments can act as a restraint on one’s own government. To take a current example, if you are an American free trader, you will wish that foreign governments will retaliate against Donald Trump’s tariffs if you think that this will force him to backtrack. And a liberal-minded citizen of a foreign country would similarly wish that the U.S. government retaliate against his own government’s protectionist measures. Of course, one would not make these traitor’s wishes if a trade war is likely to follow foreign retaliation.
But as Vernon [Smith] indicates, the impoverishment today of Venezuelans and North Koreans, and the enrichment over time of even the poorest people in market-oriented countries, proves that wealth does not exist independently of human actions and institutions. And we know from long experience that humans act to create wealth only if, when, and where the law and other institutions protect for each wealth creator his or her rights to the wealth he or she creates. Sen. Warren’s proposal, by plundering rather than protecting property, would overnight destroy trillions of dollars of wealth, including the goods and services today enjoyed by poor and middle-income Americans.