Tuesday, September 30
Quick, seal the borders
Washington post columnist E.J. Dionne weighs in today with an anti-globalization screed titled "Gone With Globalizaion." In it, he posits that "the overwhelming support for free trade and globalization among well-off, highly educated people is more a prejudice rooted in their own self-interest than a matter of high principle," and while he ostensible softens that harsh view, he never really strays from it. In fact, he is arguing straight from the anti-globalization playbook, arguing that gloablization has led directly to a loss of manufacturing jobs in America which has led directly to a decline in family incomes.
He recognizes that others, including those who know what the heck they're talking about, disagree, but that does not slow him down:
The economists reassure us that the poverty rate is a "lagging" indicator and that a robust recovery will start lifting people up again. But will it? Is it not just as plausible to worry that the flight of jobs to China and elsewhere, courtesy of globalization, has combined with big improvements in productivity to create an economy that leaves many of our fellow citizens behind even in flush times?As previous blogs show, I am obviously a free trader/pro-globalization sort myself, and I have difficulty knowing even where to begin with this sort of stuff, so I'll limit myself to one observation (and leave aside his complaint (!) about rising productivity). It has become a left-wing bromide that the Bush administration's problems in iraq all stem from a shunning of the international community. Dionne himself has recently taken this view here and here. So, on some international matters, we're supposed to be multilateralists, suborning American interests to those of the international community. But then on trade, we're supposed to be insular and closed off, because we need to prevent those jobs from going to - and providing food for - the people of (to use an example from the quote above) - China. We're supposed to ignore the good that free trade would actually do for the world's poor, as explained (just for a few examples), here and here.
Is it really evident that it is the free traders who have "prejudice rooted in their own self-interest"?