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Andy Morriss on Protectionist Platitudes

My friend Andy Morriss, a law professor at the University of Illinois, sent this spot-on letter today to the Financial Times:


Guy de Jonquieres is right on the money when he advocates unilateral trade liberalization as the best alternative to the Doha round shenigans (“Do-it yourself is free trade’s best ‘plan B’,” Aug. 24). But he falls into the usual trap of blaming countries’ failure to liberalize on shibboleths such as “fierce hemispheric rivalry between the US and Brazil.  Nonsense! There is one, and only one, reason countries fail to engage in free trade – and that reason is that barriers to trade make a few people rich even as they make many people poor. Interest groups lining their pockets at the expense of their countrymen, whether in France, the United States, or China,a re responsible for the failure of the Doha round, the Free Trade of the Americas and a host of other such agreements.  From sugar to cheese to computer chips, the opponents of free trade mouth platitudes about infant industries, national security, and traditional lifestyles.  In the end, however, their arguments all reduce to “I’ve got mine and you can’t have any.”

Well said, Andy!