Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama and Clinton Vie to Impoverish America

There is little question of the comparative advantage of free trade. While specific jobs or professions may be lost or gained due to trade, the net advantage is necessarily positive. Were it not so, the trade would not occur. Two centuries ago the classical economists such as Ricardo and Smith showed that relative price differences among countries create opportunities. If every country focuses on the economic activities at which it is best, the world becomes more productive. Over the long term the higher productivity is translated into higher wages and wealth. In contrast, the arguments that oppose trade are nationalistic and emotional.

At the extreme, countries like North Korea or the communist countries of the immediate post-World War II era that have attempted economic self-sufficiency or autarky have become impoverished. Likewise, countries with substantial protectionism such as India experience high levels of starvation. India, with six decades of protectionism and a high level of income equality leads the world in child starvation. Similarly, the British Corn Laws in the 19th century led to mass starvation in Ireland (with over one million dead). The argument against free trade is the argument for public impoverishment.

It is not surprising that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, two economic illiterates, compete to proclaim their opposition to free trade. Yahoo! reports that Obama questions Clinton's anti-free trade credentials. With economic illiteracy among the public, shoddy education, an ignorant mass media and a corrupt Congress, our government aims to impoverish the average American:

PITTSBURGH - Democratic Sen. Barack Obama on Monday questioned rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's opposition to free trade agreements that some voters contend has eliminated thousands of U.S. jobs and mocked her weekend visit to an Indiana bar as pandering to the working class.

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