Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:
Challenging George Will’s case against trade-adjustment assistance, Eric Salonen analogizes such assistance to compensation that government pays to people whose properties are taken by the building of a hydroelectric dam (Letters, June 14). This analogy is faulty. Unlike with land, almost no one has a property right to a job (we tenured professors being the unjustified exceptions to this sound rule) – for to have a property right to a job would be to have a property right to the manner in which other people spend their money. Such a ‘property right’ spread across the economy would completely suffocate the economy’s competitiveness and dynamism and, thus, over time impoverish us all.
Moreover, Mr. Salonen’s analogy doesn’t answer the question posed by Mr. Will: Why should workers who lose their jobs because consumers start buying more imports be treated differently than workers who lose their jobs for any of the many other reasons, unrelated to imports, that workers lose their jobs? Just as it’s unjust to force taxpayers to ‘compensate,’ say, the brewery worker who loses her job because consumers buy less beer from St. Louis and more wine from Sonoma, it’s unjust to ‘compensate’ the brewery worker who loses her job because consumers buy less beer from St. Louis and more wine from South Africa.
Donald J. Boudreaux
And further: Does Smith – by purchasing Jones’s services today – thereby commit to purchase Jones’s services tomorrow and into the future until and unless Jones releases Smith from such an obligation? No. And any reasonably informed Jones would not want such an arrangement because, as that Jones understands, if Smith knows that by hiring Jones today he cannot fire Jones tomorrow, Smith is less likely to hire Jones today (or, if he does hire Jones, Smith will do so only at a lower wag