What is free trade?

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Free trade is when a trade doesn’t need the consent of anyone but the traders.

A trader is an owner of property to be traded.

The above definitions after this inspiring but somewhat muddled definition of free trade. I particularly like the second, satellite definition because it safeguards the first: If you want to contort a party into a trade and still call it free, having to specify exactly what it is this party owns can make the contortion clearer — all sorts of patronizing, noble-sounding words can be used to camouflage deception, but to own is a very strong word that makes us pay attention and rightly so.

It’s claimed that government is a legitimate party in sex trade (say, prostitution) because it has to defend public morals, clients and prostitutes, but what is it that gov’t owns? Clients’ and prostitutes’ bodies and money? Public morals? Gov’t is also claimed a legitimate party to international trade (say, immigration) in the name of protecting domestic industry, but what is it that gov’t owns? Domestic industry? Employers’ or employees’ time and money?

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