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Another Swing-and-a-Miss Argument Against Free Trade

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Jeff Madrick argues that support for free trade is naïve (“Our Misplaced Faith in Free Trade,” Oct. 5).  A letter detailing Mr. Madrick’s errors would be as lengthy as the Mary Maersk, the super-sized container ship (described elsewhere in your pages today; “Aboard a Cargo Colossus”) that peacefully helps people from Amsterdam to Seoul reach more buyers for what they wish to sell and more sellers for what they wish to buy.

So I content myself with a general point: if free trade is harmful, then so, too, are technology, education, and infrastructure.  These phenomena, no less than free trade, enable more output to be produced for market from fewer inputs.  Like free trade, therefore, these phenomena save labor.  They thus also – again, no less than does free trade – destroy some jobs while creating new jobs as well as new goods and services that would otherwise be too costly to produce.

Unless Mr. Madrick is willing also to argue that “faith” in greater knowledge and improved infrastructure is “misplaced,” your readers should reject Mr. Madrick’s brief against free trade.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030