Unreasonable Reasonableness

by Don Boudreaux on May 2, 2008

in Myths and Fallacies, Seen and Unseen, The Future, Trade

Here’s a letter that I sent today to the Wall Street Journal:

Adhering to the general practice of saying that free trade has both winners and losers, you introduce two letters on Nafta with the heading “Nafta Has Helped Some, Hurt Some” (Letters, May 2).  But this familiar endeavor to appear reasonable misleadingly implies that trade across political boundaries has a unique propensity to help some and hurt others.  In fact, any economic change helps some and hurts others.

Would you introduce letters on the polio vaccine with “Vaccine Has Helped Some, Hurt Some”?  After all, the vaccine eliminated jobs for workers who made crutches, wheel chairs, and iron-lung machines.  Of course, the benefits of the vaccine – especially over the long run – far outweigh the costs.  Likewise with consumers’ freedom to spend their incomes as they choose.  And free trade is nothing more than consistently allowing consumers to spend their incomes as they choose.

Donald J. Boudreaux

This earlier post of mine addresses the same point in a slightly different way.


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