There was one write up I came across, A Brief History of Free Trade. It summarizes Adam Smith's views, mercantilism, colonial American, and of today says
Free trade in the United States is a very highly contested debate, with strong emotions on both sides, and it has been one of the most debated economic theories since the 19th century. Arguments for and against free trade are not only economic, but are political and social as well. Those for free trade say it promotes prosperity for the country as well as the poor and lower economic classes. Those against say the opposite.
Insofar as this thread has not strayed into illogical tangents, it has done a fairly good job of arguing both sides. That's good, I think.
I don't disagree that we can make small, local, incremental, experimental interventions, perhaps at the state level.
Seems to me though, listening to Friedman, economists have generally decided tariffs are not beneficial except to special interests.
I'm not gonna down Friedman, even he understood that there were limits to some of his ideas , for example his thoughts on the gold standard from when he was younger and how they differed when he'd gotten older, that showed me that somewhere somehow he was at times a realist.
I'd like to keep in mind though that there are several trains of thought regarding protectionisms from other economists, some of whom also have earned a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics and are held in just as a high regard as Friedman is. It doesn't mean they're all right or never wrong, just different sides of the same coin - it's good that you've taken an interest in Friedman, it wouldn't hurt to branch out, see what some of the others have to say then decide for yourself what might or might not work.[/QUOTE]
I'll listen. I agree, no one's all right and never wrong, we all look at different data from different perspectives.
Maybe so, although Samuelson Fifty Major (both a biography and an autobiography) says different, at least with what's beneficial for America with regards to tariffs.
^^I think that what Samuelson disagreed with - with regards to tariffs was if and when they're used as a political tool and not an economic tool, I've read papers where he's knocking what they've become not whether or not a tariff is a worthy endeavor - that that's the difference.
Adam Smith wasn't entirely against tariffs either, in some cases he advocated retaliatory tariffs against foreign tariffs: "The recovery of a great foreign market will generally more than compensate the transitory inconvenience of paying dearer during a short time for some sorts of goods."
No hard and fast rules.
To me raising tariffs against China is political and makes little economic sense.