It's econ day here at Pun Salad! Try to stay awake!
My memory is hazy, but I sort of remember Thomas Sowell appearing on
Meet the Press a couple decades back, when one of his
interlocutors tossed out a sneer about having "faith in the market."
Sowell replied: "I don't have faith in the market. I have facts about
There's nothing new under the sun, as the NYT recently quoted Dani Rodrik, of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, as lacking the "faith" of free-market economists. Don Boudreaux reacts, not quite as concisely as Sowell did, but still worth reading.
I would say that I have no "faith" in free trade; rather, the evidence and the theory of free trade are powerful enough to convince me that it is practically superior to any form of protectionism if the goal is widespread prosperity.I also liked Don's rather neat reductio ad absurdum:
If it's true that theory and evidence in favor of protectionism are sufficiently strong to warrant economists abandoning their conclusion that free-trade policy is generally sound, then why shouldn't economists -- led by Dani Rodrik -- also start exploring the potential benefits of intra-national protectionism? Surely a scholar not benighted with the free-trade "faith" ought to take seriously the possibility that, say, Tennesseeans could be made wealthier if their government in Nashville restricts their ability to trade with people in Kentucky, Texas, Rhode Island, and other states?Only problem is, there's no idea so absurd that some idiots won't embrace it.
the NYT leads with a story:
On Capitol Hill and on the presidential campaign trail, Democrats are increasingly moving toward a full-throated populist critique of the current economy.Only problem is, as Dan Drezner points out, a lot of that "critique" involves pandering to economic illiteracy about trade. Congressman George Miller is quoted:
Trade may not be the reason, or the number one reason, they're losing their jobs, but they think it is.… and the Dems are all too willing to bow to that silly misconception.
But the NYT also occasionally prints some sense. People who
like to put the words "fair" and "tax" in close proximity should
Gregory Mankiw before they are tempted to do that again:
Fairness is not an economic concept. If you want to talk fairness, you have to leave the department of economics and head over to philosophy.Really.