Friday, March 7, 2008

Don's Letters

Prof. Don Boudreaux's latest letter;
Among Robert Lighthizer's objections to principled free-traders is their opposition to protectionism "no matter how many jobs are lost" ("Grand Old Protectionists," March 6).

If Mr. Lighthizer is referring to overall employment, his facts are wrong. Free trade does not reduce net employment. But perhaps he's talking about specific jobs, such as those lost in Carolina textile mills when Americans buy more textiles from abroad. The argument seems to be that practical statecraft often justifies protecting such jobs even if doing so prevents the creation of other jobs in their place. If this is Mr. Lighthizer's point, he's too modest when calling for trade policies that allow for "practicality, nuance or flexibility." Because technology destroys far more jobs than does trade, Mr. Lighthizer should endorse also a "pragmatic" approach to innovation - empowering government with the flexibly and nuance to block firms' introduction of efficiency-enhancing production techniques that displace workers. Surely, according to Mr. Lighthizer's practical logic, we must reject the "dogma" that tolerates "unbridled" improvements in firms' operating efficiencies.

As you noticed I created a new category for the Prof. Don's letters.

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