… is from page 220 of the 2005 7th edition of Paul Krugman’s and Maurice Obstfeld’s excellent textbook, International Economics: Theory & Policy:
[I]t’s hard to make sense of actual trade policy if you assume that governments are genuinely trying to maximize national welfare. On the other hand, actual trade policy does make sense if you assume that special-interest groups can buy influence.
Because special-interest groups – cronies – play a significant role in setting and fashioning the details of trade “policy,” shouldn’t we assume that they also play a significant role in setting and fashioning the details of all other policies? Why are the same politicians who sell out the public welfare when drafting, negotiating over, and voting on trade policy to be trusted to defend the public welfare when, say, drafting, negotiating over, and voting on labor legislation, health-care legislation, immigration policies, tax policies, or foreign policies? Or campaign-finance ‘reforms’?