Free Trade

FREE TRADE….Niall Ferguson urges us not to give up on free trade and liberal immigration policies:

Global flows of labor, capital and goods are all under attack ? and this in a country that has been enjoying robust growth for the better part of five years. I shudder to think what would be coming out of Congress if the country was in recession. Presumably a bill for total autarky, mandating the construction of a vast, impermeable dome from sea to shining sea.

….Proponents of a new generation of anti-global measures claim to want to protect vulnerable native groups from the ravages of competition….Yet it would be an error to blame the widening inequalities of American societies on globalization and to seek to rectify matters with the old, failed policies of nativism and protectionism. American inequality has much more to do with not-very-progressive taxation and patchy welfare provisions than with immigration and free trade.

But it’s people like Ferguson who are the source of the problem. He’s obviously able to work up a serious head of steam about the dangers of protectionism and nativism, and he even recognizes that the answer is to pair up free trade proposals with more liberal social policies to help the poor and the working class ? the ones who pay the bulk of the price for globalization.

But after coming up with the answer, what does he do? Propose more liberal social policies? No. Instead, he proposes a new slogan for our schoolchildren: “If you flunk, you’re sunk.” That’s fine, but why not propose more liberal social programs too?