Dr. Phillips: Is Free Trade Fair Trade?

“Is free trade fair trade?”  Dr. Stephen Phillips, Assistant Professor of History and Political Science, had the honor of addressing this topic in a recent presentation of his paper “The Morality of Free Trade” at the Hillsdale Free Market Forum in Hillsdale, Michigan. In this paper, Dr. Phillips proposes that a free market governed by biblical morality is the best form of trade.

With the upsurge of “fair trade” branding on everything from coffee to clothing, Dr. Phillips’ paper explores the recent fair trade phenomenon along with the opposing ideas of protectionism. He contrasts both with a free trade model that is governed by biblical morality, which he views as the best option.

He shows the broad benefits of free trade: improvements in wealth, education, health, and even greater freedom of ideas, including the spread of the gospel.  He also notes that personal charity to the poor is necessary, and that it is made possible by the profits of free trade and free markets.

In his study, he addresses what he believes is lacking in a purely libertarian economic perspective—a positive biblical morality.  He also refutes leftist and socialist assumptions that argue that their positions correlate with biblical admonitions of mercy. Dr. Phillips’ conclusions provide timely commentary on this topic, and his paper was well received at the Hillsdale Free Market Forum.

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