by Don Boudreaux on May 14, 2008

in The Economy, The Future, The Hollow Middle, The Profit Motive, Trade

My latest essay in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is (are you sitting down?) on the benefits of free trade.  Here are some passages:

We’ve all seen a drawing that looks like two very different things
depending upon how the viewer looks at it. In one case, for instance,
what at first appears to be the craggy face of an old woman suddenly
looks like a beautiful woman standing in a sexy pose. If you look for
the old woman in the drawing, you see the old woman. If you instead
look for the gorgeous babe, you see the gorgeous babe.

Same picture. Same objective reality. Two wholly different sightings.

And so it is in economics. The very same set of facts — the
very same objective reality — often tells two (or more) very different
stories depending upon the attitude and knowledge that the observer has
when examining these facts. More imports from abroad and the losses of
specific domestic jobs that they typically entail are seen by some as a
sign of trouble for the domestic economy. Others see these same facts
as a boon — as the opportunity to get valuable goods and services at
lower costs and as releasing scarce domestic labor to produce outputs
that would otherwise be too costly to obtain.


When trade is free, even craggy and slothful economies can be transformed into lively and fertile ones. That’s my perspective.


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