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Washington Times Letter on the Irrationality of Fears of ‘Outsourcing’

In this April 29th, 2005, letter in the Washington Times I took Paul Craig Roberts to task for setting up a ridiculous standard for judging the merits of that portion of creative destruction fueled by international trade:

Terrified by international trade in services – popularly called “outsourcing” – Paul Craig Roberts complains that “No-think economists assume new, better jobs are on the way for displaced Americans, but no economists can identify these jobs” (“Outsourcing aftereffects,” Commentary, Sunday).

This is a cheap shot. Few of today’s jobs were predictable before they emerged. Who in 1900 foresaw Americans working, say, as nuclear engineers, airline pilots and automotive technicians? Who in 1950 predicted jobs in biomedical engineering and computer-software design? Who as recently as 1985 envisioned people working as computer-network administrators and Web designers?

Prosperous economies are entrepreneurial, dynamic and creative. Old technologies, products and jobs are superseded regularly by new and better technologies, products and jobs that are impossible to identify in advance.

Department of Economics
George Mason University