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In his 2008 presidential nomination acceptance speech in Denver, Mr. Obama also reflected such thinking, pledging: “Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.” This is free trade?

Mr. Griswold rebuts: Free trade is not about more jobs or fewer jobs, but better jobs. He sees that over the past century, U.S. manufacturing in an increasingly global economy has gained rising national productivity, raising living standards overall.

But that America is hardly a free-trade nation is seen in our official Harmonized Tariff Schedule, which rivals our U.S. income-tax code for random complexity. The schedule fills 2,959 pages, covers 99 chapters, has 10,523 separate tariff lines, all of a special-interest and arbitrary, if not of a corruptive, nature.

One strongly protected commodity is sugar; Americans pay two to three times the world price for sugar. Hence we pay more for candy, soft drinks, bakery items and other sugar-containing products, driving firms such as Hershey and Kraft’s Life Savers to relocate much production (and jobs) to neighboring Canada and Mexico.

Mr. Griswold closes thusly: “Free trade unites us with other people in an ever-widening ‘community of work’ that provides a powerful alternative to conflict and war.” Great. Interestingly, Thomas J. Watson, founder and chief executive officer of IBM Corp. and head of the International Chamber of Commerce, pushed this very idea hard in the 1930s — as world peace through world trade.

William H. Peterson is an adjunct scholar at the Heritage Foundation and at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Ala.