Defending Free Speech and Free Trade

by Don Boudreaux on February 22, 2007

in Current Affairs, Trade, Weblogs

Cato Institute scholars have very recently published important op-eds in Washington’s daily newspapers.  The first appeared in yesterday’s edition of the Washington Post; it is by Raja Kamal and Cato’s Tom Palmer.  They defend the right to free speech in Egypt — where it is, sadly, now under severe attack.  Kamal and Palmer open their op-ed with this sad fact:

A former college student, Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman, is sitting in an
Egyptian prison, awaiting sentencing tomorrow. His alleged "crime":
expressing his opinions on a blog. His mistake: having the courage to
do so under his own name.

The second op-ed, in today’s edition of the Washington Times, is by Cato’s Dan Ikenson who challenges the arguments and assumptions trotted out almost daily now by the current gaggle of mercantilists occupying offices on Capitol Hill.  Here’s a selection from Ikenson’s op-ed:

Too many in Congress view exports as good, imports as bad, and the
trade account as the scoreboard. Because the United States has a large
and growing trade deficit, they reckon we are losing at trade. The
reason we are losing, the story goes, is because our trade partners are
cheating, and the Bush administration has turned a blind eye. The
Democrats therefore intend to reverse our eroding economic standing
through greater enforcement of our trade agreements.

An honest discussion about trade would note that as imports
and our trade deficit have increased over the past year, five years, 10
years and 25 years (take your pick), the economy has expanded, creating
an average of 1.8 million net new jobs each year since 1981. There is
very clearly no inverse relationship between the level of imports and
U.S. job creation. And in the sectors that compete most directly with
imports, productivity gains (not import competition)account for the
preponderance of job attrition.


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