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Krugman Conflicted

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Paul Krugman is feeling some skepticism about globalization [2].

He says that he doesn’t want to stop outsourcing, but he admits that outsourcing has him feeling "conflicted."  (While criticizing George Bush’s answer to those Americans who lose jobs to greater international trade, Krugman keeps his readers in the dark about his solution to the apparent problem.  Would he limit, if not stop, outsourcing?  If so, how and by how much?)

Krugman wasn’t conflicted nine years ago about expanding trade.  He ended this superb 1997 Slate essay [3] by saying that oppoents of trade "are not entitled to their self-righteousness.  They have not thought the matter through.  And when the hopes of hundreds of millions are at stake, thinking things through is not just good intellectual practice.  It is a moral duty."

Now it’s true that Krugman in this Slate essay focuses on the benefits that globalization brings to people in poor countries.  But trade then, as now and as always, is a two-way street.

Perhaps Krugman believed that in 1997 greater international trade caused too few job losses in America to cause concern, but that the job losses caused today by trade are greater or more important than were job losses ten years ago — so much greater and more important that the moral obligation that Americans had nine years ago to allow the world’s poorest people to escape poverty through trade has been overtaken by the moral obligation to protect identifiable Americans from the pain of job loss.

Or, perhaps, sometime in the past nine years the needle on Krugman’s moral compass has shifted. 

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