A Raspberry for Free Trade
Protectionists serve up tainted fruit and red herrings.
As I pointed out in an earlier column in Slate, the growth of labor-intensive exports from Third World countries, a development possible only because those countries are able to offset their disadvantages by competing on the basis of cheap labor, has brought about a huge improvement in the human condition, even if the wages look miserably low by our standards.
It is hard to believe that people who have spent years, even decades, writing about economics are really so fuzzy-minded that they cannot see the difference between protecting consumers from tainted produce and protecting workers from competing products. On the other hand, I doubt that they are purely cynical. It is more likely that some kind of double-think, some convenient ability to stop thinking clearly when the situation demands it, is at work. But the truth is that I don't know--and I don't think it matters.
Paul Krugman writes a twice-weekly column for the New York Times and is professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University. His home page contains links to many of his other articles and essays.