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Beware of What Richard McKenzie Calls “Jobilism”

Here’s a letter to Ms. Meghan Conrad, a high-school student in Fairfax:

Ms. Conrad:

Thanks for your e-mail.

You’re correct that I don’t worry that increased international trade will cause permanent, widespread job loss.  My reason is straightforward.  Each job in a market economy is performed to satisfy a human want.  So those who assert that increased trade will cause a widespread abolition of employment opportunities are really asserting that increased trade will so completely satisfy human wants that very few such wants remain to be satisfied.

If you’re like me, you’ll find it surprisingly difficult to imagine what such a world of near-complete satisfaction of human wants would be like.  But one thing’s for certain: it would not be a world in which anyone suffers deprivation.

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

P.S. The same reasoning explains why advances in technology are unlikely to cause widespread, permanent job losses.