Over the last few weeks or so there has been a lot of talk about the "free market" with little thought for what that actually means.
Outside of the black economy - illegal drugs, arms trafficking, people smuggling - there is no such thing as a free market. All legal trade is regulated and any regulation means that the market is not a free entity. What people mean when they talk about the free market is free trade - which is not the same thing.
Free trade is the ability for nations to sell goods to one another without restriction - but that does not mean the market is free. For instance, production in places such as China and Indonesia is considerably less regulated than it is in places such as Britain and America - so the market is far from free. It is heavily restricted on one side while the other benefits enormously from that imbalance.
Unless you subscribe to the liberal left viewpoint that it is the responsibility of western nations to feel guilty and so boost developing economies at the expense of our own it is hard to see why people consider this to be either free or fair. And what happens when that developing nation's economy not only passes your own but totally eclipses it? Should we continue to feel guilty even while they are booming?
I can't subscribe to this belief that we should be content to be subsidising African farmers while our own are struggling to maintain a living just because of some misguided moral inversion. Contrary to what many people believe we do not owe them a living, but we do owe it to ourselves to ensure that our economy is strong and our industry viable.
A lot of people are concerned about the proposed bail-out for the US car giants - concerned that this will start a spiral of protectionism and restrict the "free market". What fucking free market?!?!?? Do they honestly believe that a market is free when one nations car manufacturers have all sorts of employment laws, worker rights and manufacturing regulations to abide by while other countries have no such compunction?
The free market is a scam. It doesn't exist and never will again. Free trade is only beneficial while you have something to trade - and unless you do something to ensure that you still make something then you are quickly going to find yourself in a situation where your balance of payments is ... well, imbalanced.
That means money (wealth) flowing out of our country - which means that the internal trade has to move faster to keep up (otherwise your taxes have to go up or the amount the nation owes will spiral) but as more and more things which we trade internally come from outside the nation then it quickly results into an ever more hectic race.
No major nation of any size can keep this up for long - especially with recessionary pressures. We'll pretty soon find ourselves running to just keep still - and then we'll run out of steam and our living standards will quickly decline. Once that spiral starts it will be increasingly difficult to get out of it. As we now know, when you have lost a major manufacturing industry it is almost impossible to start it again - unless the government help in some way.
I'm all for making our internal market as free as possible - and that means withdrawing from the EU - but I'm not a fan of free and unrestricted trade. Yes between nations of comparable wealth and development, but not between a developed, regulated nation and one that remains relatively backward.
We owe them no favours and they would certainly not be so considerate if the situations were reversed - as they soon will be unless we do something now. I know it's protectionist, but I don't care because this nation is worth protecting.