Arnold Kling

Bleeding-heart Free Trade

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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My favorite magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, has an opinion piece in the February 2002 issue by Jack Beatty that makes the bleeding-heart liberal case for removing trade barriers. The Atlantic's web site lags the dead-trees version, so the article has not yet appeared on line. Beatty says,

Basically, the West has required the Rest to open their markets without reciprocating commensurately. Developing countries lose about $100 billion a year owing to Western export subsidies and trade barriers.

A free-trade conservative would just say that we should remove trade barriers and damn the consequences. The bleeding-heart position is that we should have some special government programs aimed at helping workers and farmers who would be displaced by imports from overseas. But neither the free-trade conservatives nor the bleeding-heart liberals have enough votes in Congress.

Discussion Question. The anti-globalization movement strongly opposes imports from poor countries. The argument is that developing countries do not give workers the pay and working conditions enjoyed by Americans. What impact do our trade barriers have on the pay and working conditions in developing countries?

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