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June 10, 2005

Free Trade

Max Sawicky writes:

MaxSpeak, You Listen!: POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE, II: Second in our series on economic notions heretical to mainstream liberal economics.

Free trade is an issue where better-off liberals and writers for publications that cater to them look down their noses at criticism of laissez-faire economics. For some reason, markets that straddle national borders are sacrosanct, while those that do not are fair game for modest regulation, such as the minimum wage, child labor, etc. Trade unionists who agitate for social clauses in trade agreements are called protectionists by people who now say the U.S. should pressure China to revalue its currency. EPI and CEPR are trade-bashing central.

A free trader might argue that effective trade regulation is hard to do and inevitably polluted by politics. We could say the same about free trade, witness the current administration.

Among bloggers, there is a dearth of alternative commentary on this issue. DeLong is fanatically pro-trade liberalization, but at the same time among the most candid in acknowledging the vulnerabilities of his position. (For instance.) General Glut, Globalize This!, and oldman.

Well, free trade is a very important pie-growing mechanism--and, as a way of boosting growth in poor parts of the world, an important step toward a truly human world and a secure world.

Plus there are much better tools for repairing the income distribution than tariffs and quotas. If only we could assemble a political coalition behind any of them...

And effective trade regulation is hard to do and inevitably polluted by politics.

Posted by DeLong at June 10, 2005 09:31 PM