Friday, March 26, 2004

Free Trade Lefties of the World, Unite!

Never heard of 'em before, but Kevin Drum and Matthew Yglesias weigh in on the problem of changing right-thinking people's minds on free trade -- in other words, how to convince them that free trade is *good.*

(Thanks again to Matt Welch; I been leechin' off him a lot lately.)

The Economist beats the free trade drum all the time, and in fact it's the one area in which that magazine has convinced me, over the years, to be more "pro-market." I put the phrase in quotation marks, because I believe that to be pro-market on free trade, at least if you support it for reasons of wanting to pull up the world's poor, you have to include all sorts of caveats and qualifiers when you do so. Reason being that the market never, ever works the way it's "supposed to" all by itself.

I have nothing to say about Prospect Theory, but I can say this: I am convinced that one of the reasons there is not more support for free trade in this country, and specifically among Democrats and their labor supporters, is that the government, regardless of which party has been in power, has not put enough effort into the retraining programs that must be put in place to ensure that those workers who lose their jobs when their industries lose business to companies abroad can find work elsewhere. As far as I know, any such efforts in this direction have so far been sorely inadequate.