* anti-trade hypocrits

Topics: Subsidy, Regulation, Welfare
13 Dec 1993

From: ervan

They interviewed some people on MacNeil/Lehrer tonight who
were opposed to the probable GATT agreement to be signed Wednesday because
it permits free trade (yeah, right, if only it did). Not to argue
the whole issue here, but there was a curious hypocrisy to the objections.
One, free trade is bad because it would help third world workers at
the cost of hurting U.S. workers (this is false, but that's not
immediately relevant here) and third world be damned. But then, they
argue that free trade is bad because third world workers are treated
poorly and sympathy for their plight is of paramount concern. Well
which is it? Is it the U.S.'s job to save the third world or not?
Of course, again, they are utterly wrong on the facts. Even for those
third world governments which really do exploit their citizens, giving
them more wealth via trade does not make them worse off, how silly.
This hypocrisy is carried on more generally with liberals (though
not necessarily union workers who are anti-free trade) who find much
fault with the U.S. for treating the third world badly (which has some
merit as a complaint) and want the U.S. to expend large amounts of
aid in the interest of helping the third world (a flawed policy).
Well, if the third world is that precious, why not let a few American
jobs be lost, help the third world by giving them real jobs, and benefit
American consumers with lower prices? This would be true even in the
zero-sum-game scenario (which is too pessimistic). After all, the
third world is woefully underpaid and each lost American job could
create several third world jobs. But, no, the horror that liberals
suffer at the thought of letting people buy and sell what they want
is just too great.
Another hypocrisy in the same realm is the embargo with Cuba. Liberals
have whined that the U.S. embargo of Cuba was caused this great
socialist experiment to fail. I may have to agree that it has hastened
its inevitable collapse a little bit. But here is the hypocrisy:
Cuba is totally communist. It hates free trade. Free trade is
a bad idea. Free trade is tantamount to capitalist exploitation.
Liberals in the U.S. even seem to agree, some of the time. So, the
U.S. is doing Cuba a favor by helping it enforce its own policy!
What's the problem?