Government Unleashes a Process of Destructive Destruction

by Don Boudreaux on October 12, 2010

in Other People's Money, Politics, Seen and Unseen, Trade

Here’s a letter to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

You found that Sen. Russ Feingold’s claim that “unfair” trade deals have cost 64,000 jobs in Wisconsin to be “half true” (“Sen. Russ Feingold says unfair trade deals have cost 64,000 jobs in Wisconsin,” Oct. 12).  You are waaaaaaaaay too generous to the senator.

As you report, Sen. Feingold classifies trade deals as “unfair” if they cause some workers to lose their current jobs.  But because all that freer trade does is to expand consumers’ options, what the senator believes to be unfair is really consumer choice – consumer sovereignty – greater freedom of consumers to spend their money as each of them deems best even if, in the process, they stop patronizing some particular producers.

So Sen. Feingold’s accusation that freer trade is “unfair” simply because freer trade results in some workers losing particular jobs means that he must also regard as “unfair,” say, anti-smoking campaigns.  After all, such campaigns tempt consumers away from buying cigarettes and, sadly, result in job losses among tobacco-industry workers.

Donald J. Boudreaux


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