On this Carpe Diem post by Mark Perry, commentator Citizen Buddy writes:
It is my firm belief that Mutual Free Trade is exponentially superior to Unilateral Free Trade.
While Citizen Buddy’s comment may be true, it is wholly irrelevant to the matter at hand. Rarely is the choice between mutual free trade (he is using it here to state both countries’ governments do not obstruct their citizens’ trading patterns) and unilateral free trade. The relevant trade-off is between unilateral free trade and scarcityism. When faced with that trade-off, unilateral free trade will win every time.
Considering the relevant trade-offs prevents us from making a Nirvana Fallacy and keeps us disciplined in our thinking. Preferences may be one thing, but budget constraints always exist. We may prefer complete free trade, but in absence of that, unilateral free trade will do.