Last weekend I attended the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, one of this continent’s biggest geek-culture conventions and a bustling hub of North American commerce. Canadians and Americans mingled side by side selling books, T-shirts, toys, crafts, and other assorted nerd paraphernalia in a milieu resembling a bazaar on some colorful Star Wars planet.

Unfortunately, since the show took place in Canada, many — maybe even most — of the American vendors were there illegally. Not to pass judgment, of course — a few weeks prior I had attended the Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, and that thing was swarming with illegally present Canadians.

To be clear, we’re not talking about illegal immigrants. At both Calgary and Seattle, the foreigners had merely crossed the border to sell their wares, then promptly returned home when the festivities ended. Yet in year 25 of NAFTA, casually crossing the border to sell things remains basically impossible to do legally. This provides a revealing illustration of why many small-time entrepreneurs in Canada and the United States will have a hard time mustering tears if Donald Trump shreds a continental free-trade deal that’s never done much for them.

In practice, an American or a Canadian who wishes to cross the border for the purpose of engaging in some casual capitalism at a foreign market — say, a band performing at a bar, a magician making balloon animals at a county fair, or a guy looking to hawk old records at a flea market — will often simply lie (explicitly or through omission) his way across the line, faking vacation plans and praying that his car or suitcases go unsearched.

Interesting Read…

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