What Degree of -ization?

by Don Boudreaux on November 11, 2006

in Myths and Fallacies, Trade

Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson believes that general economic prosperity is created by monopoly power.  He’s happy that the newly enlisted army of politicians that will descend on Capitol Hill in January contains many protectionists — ooops, sorry, I should instead describe protectionists by using their favorite euphemism: "fair traders."  Here’s a letter that I sent today to the Post in response to Meyerson’s economic illiteracy:

Dear Editor:

Meyerson repeats the canard that "globalization entails [a] downward
leveling" of economic well-being ("Tipping Point for Trade," November

This belief is crushed by mountains of evidence.  It’s
crushed also by its own illogic: if ordinary people are served by being
"protected" from globalization, then they can be made even better off
by being protected from countryization – and better off still by being
protected from townization and neighborhoodization.  Protectionist
quackery implies that we achieve maximum prosperity when no one
consumes anything produced by anyone else.

Donald J. Boudreaux

As my friend George Leef asks, what degree of -ization do protectionists imagine to be ideal?

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John Thacker November 11, 2006 at 11:20 am

Well, in the American South you will find people who overtly think that we made the North and Midwest worse off by stealing their jobs for lower wages, but don't intend to allow the same thing to be done by foreigners. (Certainly don't agree with them.)

And certainly there have been groups in the Northeast and Midwest who have screamed about jobs relocating to right-to-work areas in the South.

Axel Kassel November 11, 2006 at 2:23 pm

Any North Korean peasant could tell you that being sheltered from the global marketplace is the way to go.

Kent Gatewood November 11, 2006 at 5:22 pm

If the low cost provider to run the control room for the American ICBM fleet were a Chinese company would you give them the contract? Should the Air Force buy SU-35s from Russia instead of F-22s?

lowcountryjoe November 11, 2006 at 8:36 pm


The sourcing of procured American Defense assests that are sensitive in nature are one thing. But, using that arguement to rail against free(er) trade, in general, is so damned strawman that I'm surprised that you went there.

Wild Pegasus November 11, 2006 at 9:36 pm

The Air Force shouldn't exist.

- Josh

JohnDewey November 12, 2006 at 7:26 am

John Thacker: "And certainly there have been groups in the Northeast and Midwest who have screamed about jobs relocating to right-to-work areas in the South."

Groups in those regions have been screaming "foul" for decades. In the 1950's, Senator John F. Kennedy was very open about his support for a higher national minimum wage. He complained loudly and frequently about the exodus of textile jobs from New Engladn to the South.

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