≡ Menu

Some Links

Although I detest everything about the NatCon ‘philosophy,’ I’m proud to be among the signers of this letter denouncing the effort to prevent NatCons from speaking in Brussels.

Writing on this illiberal effort to silence the illiberal NatCons is the thankfully liberal Stephanie Slade.

Tom Palmer makes the moral case for globalization. Four slices:

To seriously consider globalization, it’s best to avoid definitions that contain the conclusions of complex arguments. A fruitful discussion of globalization requires a nonmoralized and operational use of the term. The definition is nonmoralized if it does not signal whether we should embrace or reject the term defined and is operational if it identifies uncontested, or at least verifiable, features of the world that people of different moral traditions and ideologies can agree are features of the world. So, this essay’s definition of globalization is the relatively free movement of people, things, money, and ideas across natural or political borders. Thus, increasing globalization means reducing or eliminating state‐​enforced restrictions on voluntary exchanges or interactions across political borders that would be permitted if the private (nonstate) parties were on the same side of a border. A consequence of increasing globalization is an increasingly integrated and complex global system of production and exchange.

Some critics of globalization include in their definition the existence of certain international organizations, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund, the International Labour Organization, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization. While there are arguments for and against those organizations, none of the organizations are essential to globalization, and some have hindered it. Moreover, none of them are world governments, and none have enforcement powers, armies, etc. They are created by treaties among sovereign states. James Bacchus addresses many myths about the WTO.


Restricting the liberty of people to travel or exchange information, ideas, goods, or services requires justification. The burden of proof lies with the party that would restrict the liberty of another, just as the burden of proof in a criminal case lies with the one making the charge (the prosecutor). In contrast, the immoralityof arrogating to oneself the power to restrict the choices of others is more evident: it violates the presumption of equal liberty that is foundational to free, harmonious, and prosperous societies by presuming instead that some people be required to ask permission to act from some privileged class. At the very least, such assertions require more justification than is generally offered by advocates of restrictions on trade, travel, or the exchange of goods, services, and ideas.

There is evidence that our commonly accepted norms of morality emerge from trade, which established the importance of legitimate expectations and reputations, both of which are necessary for the emergence of law and morality. Morality itself is a product of exchange, and the more trade, generally the more humane a society is.


In a deglobalized world in which only privileged people were free to travel and trade those few privileged people would experience tremendous diversity every time they traveled from one country to another. Most people, however, would experience far less diversity. In a world in which people are free to trade and travel, though, most of us experience far more diversity than we would in a world without such freedom. Wealthy visitors to poorer countries often identify the culture of those countries with their poverty and “quaintness.” That is a mistake. Icelanders, to take an example of a small nation with a distinct culture, maintain their language and way of life not by being isolated but by trading with foreigners and using their resulting wealth to sustain publishing houses, film production, education, and much more in their own language. Economist Tyler Cowen described the forms of variety on page 15 of his book Creative Destruction: How Globalization Is Changing the World’s Cultures.


Cultural exchange is foundational to living cultures. Pasta, for which Italian cuisine is famous, has origins in Asia, whether it was brought to Italy by Marco Polo, as folklore tells, or earlier, and the tomatoes that form the base of many Italian sauces are cultivated from plants brought from Meso‐​America by Spaniards. Food has been globalized for millennia, but somehow that has not stopped it from developing an amazing diversity of identifiable cuisines, styles, and dishes with many distinctive characteristics. The same can be said of architecture, traditions, mores, religions, and every other element of human culture.

Some local customs have dwindled or disappeared. Consider the virtual disappearance of human sacrifice and slavery, both of which had long traditions in many cultures. In that respect, all cultures have become more similar over time—and a good thing too. As a political example, if all the countries of the world were to adopt democracy and to throw off autocracies, tyrannies, colonial masters, and so on, there would be less diversity among systems of government, although a wide variety of forms (Westminster parliamentarism, federalism, presidential systems, constitutional monarchies, etc.) would remain. If genocide, ethnic cleansing, and colonialism were to be eliminated and replaced by some form of live‐​and‐​let‐​live mentality, another kind of diversity would be reduced.

GMU Econ alum Dominic Pino talks with Samuel Gregg about industrial policy.

Jim Bacchus is correct: “The globalization of ideas enriches the world.” A slice:

Facilitated by trade, the invention of critical discussion in Athens led, a century before Plato, to the conception of the new idea that became democracy. As the British classicist Peter Green wrote in The Greco‐​Persian Wars, what the feudalistic Persians despised most about the Greeks, as exemplified by the Athenians, was their “addiction to trade,” and especially, “the free exchange of opinions that went with it.” The same might be said of how trade has, in the 2,500 years since and in so many places throughout the world, promoted more openness to uncounted new ways of thinking and doing and living. In particular, this can be said about the idea of democracy.

Here’s more from the irrepressible Bruce Yandle.

GMU Econ doctoral candidate Giorgio Castiglia understands the unfortunate consequences for workers of minimum wages.

NPR does not like to be criticized

but Matt Taibbi is highly critical of new NPR chief Katherine Maher.

Tal Fortgang reports on progressive arrogance and illiberalism at (not shockingly) U.C.-Berkeley. A slice:

In other words, these students know that the ostensible adults in the room aren’t just with them on the issues; they encouraged the zealotry, assertion of moral superiority, and black-and-white thinking that allows students to disrespect anyone — even a dean and eminent scholar — whom they deem morally impure. It’s no wonder that these young activists, feeling no restraint and facing no consequences, behave like spoiled brats.

Who’d a-thunk it? (And here.)