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Annoying Ignorance

Here’s one Helen Schietinger writing in a letter-to-the-editor in today’s Washington Post:

Free trade is not fair trade – it primarily benefits corporate interests.

Although widespread, this sentiment is utterly fatuous.

If Ms. Schietinger were within earshot, I’d ask her how is it that allowing consumers to spend their money more freely "primarily benefits corporate interests." I’d ask her what is so unfair about government not reducing consumers’ options.

I’d ask her also if she is aware of the massive amount of evidence that free trade promotes deep, widespread, and ever-growing prosperity. (Doug Irwin’s Free Trade Under Fire, and Johan Norberg’s In Defense of Global Capitalism, are just two recent, superb sources summarizing this evidence.)

If Ms. Schietinger answers that she’s not aware of this evidence (which is probably the honest answer), I’d then ask her why she writes as though she knows the relevant facts while, in actuality, she doesn’t.

If instead she answers that she is aware of this evidence, I’d ask her what is it about this evidence that she finds unpersuasive. What reasons does she have for rejecting it as practical proof that free trade generates economic growth and enormous widespread prosperity? And can she point to credible empirical studies that refute the oceanic amount of evidence showing that free trade is enormously beneficial?

I don’t know Ms. Helen Schietinger. She’s probably well-meaning and very nice. But at least on matters of trade, she’s altogether ignorant.