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Consumers Harmed by Free Trade?

Here’s a letter to the Allentown, PA, Morning Call:

Praising Sen. Bob Casey’s opposition to freer trade, Nancy Tate regurgitates in one letter the entire smorgasbord of noxious protectionist gruel swallowed today by many “Progressives” (Letters, July 19).  Among Ms. Tate’s projectiles, for example, is her assertion that free trade is “an assault” on “consumer rights.”

How, exactly, are consumers’ rights assaulted by a policy that gives them greater freedom to spend their money as they choose?  In what ways are consumers harmed when the range, variety, and quality of goods and services available to them expand while the prices of those goods and services fall?

As trade scholar Dan Griswold wrote in his book Mad About Trade, “If one of our children grows up to invent a way to move goods and bits of information even more rapidly around the world, we rightly call that ‘progress’; if another child grows up to become a populist politician who advocates raising trade barriers to slow the movement of those same goods and data across borders, we perversely call that ‘progressive.'”*

Perverse indeed.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics

* Daniel Griswold, Mad About Trade (Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2009), p. 172.


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