Free Trade

Is The GOP Shifting Away from Free Trade?

When Chris Christie first exited the Republican presidential primary, I figured he would then give his endorsement to one the establishment candidates left in the race. But then he threw his weight (pun intended) behind Donald Trump.

Other than both portraying themselves as tough-talking, gravy-stained champions of the blue collar set, they didn’t appear to have a lot in common. Well, I found one thing both Christie and The Donald share a desire for – and that is protectionism.

Protectionism is one of Trump’s major platform items. He of course will never describe it as such, but he’s been telling us for months how he will make great trade deals with China, Vietnam, Japan and Mexico. A large component of these “great deals” is tariffs slapped on these countries in an effort to drive up import prices thereby making American made products more competitive.

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That, my friends, (hat tip – [score]John McCain[/score]) is protectionism. It’s the government manipulating the free market (as if there is such a thing) in order to artificially pick winners and losers.

What actually happens is that companies, which are then “protected” from less costly competition, are free to raise prices. In effect the government just creates a monopolistic economy where the end user, the consumer, always loses in the end.

Chris Christie 2Yet this protectionism platform sounds good and sells well with those who feel they’ve been short-changed by foreign competitors and those who know little about free market economics. And frankly, why should they. It’s not taught in school, nor do we see it action, when all around is nothing but crony corporatism.

So what does this have to do with Chris Christie? It turns out he’s all for protectionism too, as he signed a bill protecting, of all things, the Monument Builders Association (MBA) of New Jersey – the companies that produce and market gravestones in the Garden State.

In 2013 the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark “began selling grave markers for burial plots within the archdiocese’s cemeteries.” In that first year the Archdiocese made $500,000. The MBA was not happy. They claimed that their “members lost more than one-third of their business.” But how can this be? After all, the Church doesn’t produce gravestones. Therefore they must purchase them from someone to then resell to their flock.

Could it be that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark found a less expensive source than that of the MBA of New Jersey, thus threatening their monopoly? Sounds like it.

So the MBA took the Catholic Church to court over it, but the suit was tossed out – the court saying that it is not illegal for the Church to sell grave markers.

Rather than possibly looking at their own business model or pricing structure to maybe make themselves more competitive, the grave marker monopoly lobbied the New Jersey legislature to pass a law prohibiting the church from cutting into their business.

Christie and the legislature were all for that as the governor signed the bill into law in March of 2015 – although the implementation was postponed until this year.

The Archdiocese is challenging the new law in court and its executive director, Andrew Schafer, said that, “This new law protects only the interests of funeral directors and monument dealers while eliminating the rights of families we serve and our ministry.”

Until this case is decided the folks in New Jersey will have no choice but to purchase grave markers from an unlikely protected industry.

Trump and Christie – two Herbert Hoover, anti-free market protectionist republican peas in a pod. I guess they do belong together.

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