Back when governments were shipping gold back & forth across oceans for purposes of "balancing trade," they were smaller -- and those smaller governments still managed to do the whole tariff & subsidy thing that damaged their domestic economies.
Bastiat understood the filthy protectionists quite well. "They will say that combatting the principle of balance of trade is like tilting at windmills." Bastiat understood that even with specie-backed money, politically connected crime syndicates would find ways to rip off the masses through what he called plunder by way of The Law.
The important words there are "politically connected." They key to freedom (e.g. free trade) is not forcing a smaller government to return to sound money. The key is eliminating government altogether.
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