"If you're trading with them, it makes war much less likely," Palmer said. "We're not going to go to war with Canada. It's our biggest trading partner -- $600 billion a year going across the U.S.-Canada border in trade along the longest non-militarized border in the world. Five thousand miles, counting Alaska. That is trade creating peace."
As the French economist Frederic Bastiat put it, "When goods don't cross borders, soldiers will."
Palmer offered another way to think about trade: as a machine -- "a machine that allows Florida farmers to turn oranges into (phones). They can't grow cell phones on their trees in Florida. They grow oranges really well. What they can do is take those oranges and trade them for cell phones."
And when people do this worldwide, they get richer. "Just like the case of you buying some coffee at the Starbucks. You could have made your own coffee. But your time might have been better spent doing something else. So you outsourced your coffee production. You made yourself better off. And that young lady who sold you the coffee made herself better off."
Palmer points out that China was once the most advanced society in the world. It had developed the clock, printing, the compass and more. Not coincidentally, while it was advancing technology and science, it was a major world trader.
"And it crumbled because they destroyed their trade. They made it illegal to trade with foreigners. And they turned inward. That set in process a stagnation that only now is being undone. We shouldn't do that to our country."
We're different, aren't we? We know how to make everything we need. "There's always opportunities for new progress. ... Remember watching 'Star Trek' as a kid and they had that weird communicator? Everybody has one now. ... (T)rade made that possible."