Three Cheers for Free Trade
Donald Trump and his fellow liberals Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are lambasting free trade as the scourge of the American working man. How odd it is that an economic activity so beneficial to almost every American, indeed to the vast majority of the human race, suffers such attacks with only half-hearted defenses raised by politicians who should know better and economists who do know better.
I stipulate: in trade, as in any economic endeavor, there are losers in the short run. Capitalism is, after all, fundamentally a system of creative destruction. But if there is any area of agreement among economists of all political stripes — a group among whom finding agreement is exceptionally difficult given their unique decision-making anatomy — it is that free trade provides large net benefits to the societies that engage in it, even if other nations do not lower trade barriers to the same degree.
Furthermore, the benefits of trade accrue in large measure to the lower economic echelons of society in an extension of Schumpeter’s profound observation that “the capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within the reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort.”
Allow me to offer a few quotes (emphasis added) from one prominent economist, at the time a professor at an elite university, who was lamenting the poor understanding of international trade in the United States:
Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
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