Landsburg on Free Trade

Here’s another great passage from Landsburg’s The Big Questions.   Here he discusses the moral implications of a common hot button issue, foreign trade:

Princeton Professor Alan Blinder has recently estimated that 30 to 40 million Americans face the prospect of losing their jobs to lower-paid foreign competitors.  Or in other words, all Americans face the prospect of lower prices for the output of 30 to 40 million workers. That’s good, though of course 60 to 80 million would be better.

The italicized sentence made me smile.  That’s an excellent way to frame it.  We never think of it that way.  We  disassociate jobs from output or what we buy at the stores.  Or we assume that somehow the costs of the good, high paying jobs are magically absorbed by shareholders of a company rather than paid by customers.

It gets better:

Let’s start by observing that there is almost surely no such thing as a net loser from free trade.  (I owe this observation to George Mason University professor Don Boudreaux.) I doubt there’s a human being on earth who hasn’t benefited Continue reading

Good Watching

A few good videos from Reason.tv

The 4-Minute Guide to the Seven Hour Summit I know Reason TV is biased, but I wonder if Obama said anything substantive during this event or did he just remind McCain that he won the election and reflexively repeat “it will work”?

What are profits? Many people think profits are evil.  They’re not.  If left to work in relatively free markets, they’re a signal that tells us what is in demand and what is not.  That way producers will be encouraged to produce the stuff we want and not produce the stuff we don’t want.  The problem with profits is that sometimes people use government power to make profit on things we don’t want.

Drew Carey talks about foreign labor.  Politicians love to save our jobs from going to foreign countries, but don’t try to save them from the might machine.  His point, either way we are better off.  Yes, we will all have to face the fact that what we are doing at some point in our lives may go away due to machine or foreign labor.  That’s rough.  But it’s real.