Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How do you explain trade to a Fox reporter

Steven Landsburg gives a try;

Here's the related op-ed; Why protectionism is a lot like racism;
I hold this truth to be self-evident: It is just plain ugly to care more about total strangers in Detroit than about total strangers in Juarez. Of course we care most about the people closest to us-our families more than our friends and our friends more than our acquaintances. But once you start talking about total strangers, they all ought to be on pretty much the same footing. You could say you care more about white strangers than black strangers because you've got more in common with whites. Does that make it okay to punish firms for hiring blacks?

Related; Landsburg talk at GMU

1 comment:

Maynard said...

This is, I have to say it, extremely simple-minded --- akin to the same people who ignore such neurological evidence as mirror neurons to claim that the only thing that matters to a rational agent is self-interest.

Most people care passionately, obsessively, to the point of being willing to die or kill, about various aspects of their culture. The details vary in individuals --- for some it may be language, for others religion, for others some vague concept of patriotism; but the pattern cannot be denied. To the extent that this "love" of culture is legitimate, it is then understandable why people would help those in trouble affiliated with this culture and not others. This is no different from evangelicals in Texas getting worked up about the troubles of christians in China.

The flaw in Landsburg's argument is his presumption that the only links between individuals are the ties of having personally met, a frankly bizarre notion. For better or worse, the various strands of culture bind people across the globe in a variety of different ways.