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March 16, 2008

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tomslee

Would Greg Mankiw be happy to hand prison policy over to the criminologists, or arts policy over to the cultural theorists, and if not why not?

Sebastian

If only Mankiw's article actually was about free trade. It's a political hit piece written to make Obama and Clinton look like panderers and McCain as the brave warrior standing up for the truth. Mix in some admiration for _past_ Democrats to appeal to important independent voters. And the whole thing under the cloak of academia - man, how I (as an academic) resent these things.

Arash

Dear Prof. Rodrik,

as far as I understand your post on what "economics really teaches" (where you celebrate Driskill) you inculpate the mainstream profession to engage "in amateur normative political theorizing about what is good for society." And you are right: since preferences are ordinal this kind of reasoning comes close to naive utilitarianism (am I too neoclassical?), some kind of calculating pleasure and pain. But this simply shows that any measure to increase "general welfare" is normative, not economics proper as Robbins at least defines it. What makes you so sure that your approach does not suffers from the same "amateur normative political theorizing about what is good for society?" And further, if the fact that people lose from international trade does allow for political measures, what about those people who suffer from a shift in consumer preferences in general, from technological change, etc? Isn't economics proper 'really teach' us that losses in jobs and falling wages are necessary to reallocate labor force according to consumer sovereignty? And would you support measures against the consequences of changing preferences and technological change? Would you, for instance, support high taxes on activities in R&D? If you don't, why is trade beyond national borders so special? Why protecting only those who suffer from this kind economic activity? Thus: how do you define welfare, in a professional, positive, scientific way?

Laurent GUERBY

Well nearly all economists favour intellectual property which is about the strongest protectionnist regulation government can impose, tens or hundreds of time more impact than most tariffs the very same economists scream about daily in their academic papers, opinion pieces and media appearances.

People can smell hypocrisy in the economists sphere.

And let's not talk about free movement of people instead of merchandises.

a student

As a free trader, one way I can think of trade is like a technology that takes exports that are produced cheaply and turns them into imports that we can consume. Opening up to trade is like accessing a new technology. Like all technologies, there are winners and losers, but few of us would want to be rid of these technological advancements. As many skeptics are probably reading this, I'd be interested to hear their counter argument.

Namior

To "a student": What if the technology pollutes more than national norms allow, contravenes national laws about minimum wages, kills and displaces thousands of human beings and leads to social destruction at home and abroad? Would such a "technological advancement" be acceptable? Your attempt to liken free trade to technological advancement is nice in a theoretical world, but in fact it obscures the real issues. It cloaks the negative effects of free trade with the idea of "advancement" and "progress" while the only thing free trade shares with technology is its ultimate effect on prices of goods, and not all the positive externalities generally associated with technological advancement.

Rupert

A few weeks ago, I found some international opinion polls that asked people in different countries for their views on trade. Almost everyone, from China to France, thought trade was good for economic growth. A majority of people also agreed that trade was good for them as consumers. But a majority also thought trade would reduce their job security and the Chinese were no more in favour of trade than Americans or French. Seems to me most people, when not running for office, have better instincts for the distributional consequences of trade than many economists do . . .

Bersi

I have been teaching International Trade courses over the last several years to different audiences, i.e. economics students, business students as well as more general social science students without a clear major. The range of issues taught to each audience is the same though, with the level of technicality presented being different. Overall I would say that teaching this topic is among the most challenging these days.

What makes it be so is exactly the issues that Dani and the other he refers to mention, i.e. the issues of inequality, job security, political economy. Simply mentioning the trade off between winners and losers and expressing one's belief that gains outweigh losses is not enough. Selling the arguments requires evidence and in this area international trade literature is very very poor.

A further drawback I find while teaching the subject, especially to undergrad students, is inadequate textbooks. The up to date texts focus disproportionally on models of international trade that explain little. Does someone teach undergrads and what literature do you use?

wjd123

When textile plants moved to our South, to right-to-work states, the right to unionize didn't end there. No, part of the wages and benefits that Southern workers received came from the threat of unionization.

When these plants moved to Mexico that threat ended and wages and benefits there could be lowered accordingly.

Unions lost membership, and power as industries moved to different countries or threatened to move.

So there is a difference in the ability to bargain between companies moving from one state to another within the United States and companies moving to a different country.

The same is true with Mexican truckers running cargo into the United States. The Teamsters can't effect their wages and benefits the same way it can those of interstate truckers. Mexico has "El Pacto" and not the free association of labor.

The more Mexican truckers running cargo into the United States the less members the Teamsters have and the less power labor has. And as robertdfeinman has mentioned, the freer Mexican truckers are to run cargo into the United States the more likely foreign goods being shipped here will be off-loaded in Mexico. That means a loss of union jobs on our docks as ports are expanded there.

None of this has anything to do with increased productivity and it has everything to do with lower wages and benefits. None of this has anything to do with the workings of the free market and everything to do with the workings of power.

In order for companies to pay cheaper wages in Mexico new port facilities won't be built here. Truckers will have downward pressure on their wages and benefits. Capital to build ports will be shifted to Mexico and with it all the Longshoreman jobs that could have benefited American workers. Mexican workers can try to improve their lot and attempt to associate, but they will have a long fight ahead of them.

North American companies will be able to add a few more cents to their profit margins because of cheaper wages in Mexico. In North America new facilities and new jobs will be lost forever or until our wages move closer to that of Mexico's workers. Decent wages that would have bolstered our economy as Teamsters and Longshoremen spent here will be exchanged for cheaper goods.

The bottom line is that our workers standard of living will be dragged down as our wages are dragged down by free trade associations like NAFTA. Mexican workers standard of living will be held down as there wages are held down by their inability to associate.

A hundred years of progress made by American workers, their history, will be rewritten by labors enemies as they regain more and more power in our political economy.

If the working conditions of Americans aren't to be equalized with poorer countries, free trade as it is practiced today has to be ended.

Let's hope that the Democratic Party wins enough power that it can curtail Bush's assault of labor. Let's hope that the Democratic candidates will do what they said they would do and take another look at our trade deals and their effect on labor.

wjd123

There is a difference between treaties and agreements. Agreements are soft law. They can more easily be changed and gotten out of as circumstances change. We can withdraw from NAFTA, an agreement, within six months after giving notice. Parties injured by withdrawal have no legal recourse for damages suffered. They should manage their risks appropriately. Resorting to denial is managing risk inappropriately factoring in changing circumstances is managing risk appropriately.

The greatest risk of withdrawal from trade agreements derives from changing circumstances. The greatest harbinger of this risk is the inability of one of the signers to adapt to change. For instance, Mexico's inability to police its borders comes partly from a lack of resources. However it also come from its government's need to have a safety valve for its unemployed and partly because it benefits its economy when dollars are sent back to Mexico. This in turn leads to Mexico's involvement in our elections.

I could add the growth of the drug trade in Mexico and the corruption of its officials as other changes driven by NAFTA, but my point is that since NAFTA was signed circumstances have changed. The change has been driven by Mexico's inability or unwillingness to handle the change brought about by NAFTA. Our weak response to the changing circumstances caused by NAFTA--increased illegal immigration, for instance--is an effort to protect our corporations and the Mexican political economy. In other words our political economy and Mexico's political economy are being driven by Mexico's inability to deal with changing circumstances brought about by NAFTA..

Both Democratic candidates have promised to withdraw from NAFTA if they can't renegotiate it. It's not enough to tweak some labor provisions and say that NAFTA has been put right.

NAFTA has been put wrong by Mexico's failure and our denial.

It's time for candidates to stop acting as if the problem with NAFTA is a minor internal one that applies to labor. It's a huge external one that applies to the nation. National interests have precedents over corporate interest or investor interests. That principle is best protected by normal trade relations.

The environment between Mexico and the United States has changed mostly because we made an agreement with a country what was not capable of handling changing circumstances. NAFTA is trade done wrong.

jdrodrig

I think you all raise very important issues that for me can be labeled as "International Trade Theory under the presence of market imperfections".

Even from the theory perspective, there are classical work showing the possibility of trade lowering welfare under the presence of External Increasing Returns to Scale (for instance).

Something that is very rarely considered is the inter-generational issue. Closing our markets to cheaper or more advanced foreign goods could save current jobs but in the long-run would make us workers experts in making typewriters while the rest of the world is using their laptops.

alex

jdrodrig: Closing our markets to cheaper or more advanced foreign goods

Cheaper and more advanced are completely different.

Wanna make a laptop?

You'll need an LCD screen. S. Korea and Japan have the best technology there, and they're so far ahead on it I doubt it makes sense for us to try catching up.

You'll also need chips. Great US product (especially CPU's). But wait, Intel is building a state of the art fab in China. What's that about? It's a highly capital intensive with very low direct labor costs (though highly skilled labor is needed). There's obviously not a comparative advantage there. What's happening? Try political pressure and subsidies. This ain't no free market and people know it.

alex

a student: "As a free trader, one way I can think of trade is like a technology that takes exports that are produced cheaply and turns them into imports that we can consume."

You can think of it that way. With a sufficiently high level of abstraction you can make two things indistinguishable. The down-and-dirty details though say that they're not the same.

"As many skeptics are probably reading this, I'd be interested to hear their counter argument."

Technological advances aren't subject to trade imbalances and currency manipulation the way that trade is.

And, while technologies can certainly have their down sides, the productivity improvements from technological advances far outweigh the allocative advantages of free trade.

I think that most people know enough history to appreciate this. There are very few Luddites these days because nobody wants to live before the industrial revolution. By contrast, people don't think of the pre-free trade era (say the 1950's) as some dark age where we were hampered by our relative autarky.

A concrete example: clothes.

Pre-industrial revolution: made using spinning wheels (themselves a technological advance over earlier methods), hand looms and hand stitching.

Post-industrial revolution: spinning and weaving completely automated, and stitched with sewing machines (bonus points for the new electric models).

Compare that dramatic difference to Chinese vs. American labor costs.

I remember when lots of clothes were made in the USA, and, growing up in a lower-middle class family we could afford them just fine. Pre-industrial revolution isn't that far from the stone age though.

Bottom line: people see lots of risk for relatively little reward from "free" trade, but enormous potential reward from technology.

No, I don't think the US should go back to making all its own clothes, but the fact that we clearly don't have a comparative advantage makes the example even better.

Of course you can counter that the industrial revolution was a long time ago, but that just raises another advantage of technology: its advances are cumulative. By contrast, there is no such exponential benefit from the allocative advantages of free trade.

a student

Thanks for the response alex. But a couple of counters:

"By contrast, people don't think of the pre-free trade era (say the 1950's) as some dark age where we were hampered by our relative autarky"

The world was beginning to open up in the 50's with the GATT. However, we certainly do have the perspective that the interwar period's tendency to autarky hurt people.

Second, trade may not be merely about allocative advantages. Dynamic aspects emphasized by the likes of Helpman and Grossman can be important.

alex

a student: "The world was beginning to open up in the 50's with the GATT."

True, but the US was running a trade surplus and most things, like clothes, shoes, cars, steel, etc. were American made.

"However, we certainly do have the perspective that the interwar period's tendency to autarky hurt people."

Also true. However that period is out of most people's living memory. What they do remember, or have heard, is the horrors of the Great Depression.

While Smoot-Hawley was a bad idea, I believe no less a free trader and student of the Depression than Milton Friedman observed that its effect was small. IIRC only about 3% of the economy was imports/exports even before Smoot-Hawley.

I'm not an economist (although I did stay at a Holiday Inn last summer) but I think that a bigger problem was that US trade restrictions in the 1920's (still 40% avg tariffs vs. Smoot-Hawley's 60%) kept Europe from paying off their WWI debts to the US, and helped precipitate the European central banking crises of the 1930's. That's pretty indirect though, and not the sort of things that would hit most people in the face.

Dynamic aspects emphasized by the likes of Helpman and Grossman can be important.

I'm not familiar with that, but I don't doubt that trade effects go beyond the simple static comparative advantage model.

Of course, that can go either way. Agglomeration of industries I suspect is a bigger factor than it's often given credit for.

My post was mostly about why so many "average" people are unenthusiastic about free trade, although it's not far from my own views.

While I would never call myself a free trader (I think the term has been used too much as a slogan to describe things that really aren't free trade), I actually believe in fairly open trade.

However, I think that from NAFTA onward many of our trade deals have really been more about foreign investment and circumvention of national regulation. Combined with currency manipulation and our own poor policies that have lead to such a large trade deficit, I think that the overall effect has been detrimental to most Americans. Folks in other countries have plenty of legitimate complaints too.

Remember, GDP ain't everything. Distribution and economic security affect most people more. The "naive" point-of-view may come from people who know little theory, but it reflects the empiricism of their day-to-day observation of their own circumstances. There's a lot to be said for that.

Anthony Damiani

People are down on trade *because* it's what economists have been selling, and they don't feel the economy is doing very well *for them*. I suspect it's not trade per se, but a judgment against economics as a discipline.

I suspect that if people felt both prosperous and secure in their economic futures, the wisdom of the prevailing economic consensus would find more favor.

a student

alex:
I agree with your characterization of why most people wouldn't think trade and technology improvements are similar. However, that is not my view.

Also, I think that some provisions that creep into free trade agreements do more harm than good. Certain provisions regarding intellectual property are an example, again Grossman has written on this. However, I would not agree that currency manipulation (I assume you mean by the Chinese) has hurt the US economy. If the Chinese want to sell us cheap things, that's great. Of course, people will retort that this has hollowed out manufacturing in the US, but I would counter that this is just like a technology improvement that creates winners and losers, and we begin the circle again...

P.S. I don't get the joke about the Holiday Inn.

StevenT

Technology has to reinnovate itself and evolve from time to time to remain competitive. The US prides itself as the leader in technology in the 1970s. This is the 21st century and other nations around the world have catch up with the advancements. When you say there is no comparative advantage for Intel to build a new fab plant in China other than lower wages is wrong. In fact, there is no difference in terms of technical knowledge between the engineers in China and the US. The difference is that those in China wouldn't mind working 12 hours a day and 6 days a week without overtime just to get their job done. However in the US, most engineers only work from 9 to 5. Anything after 5, consult with them the following day.

Unless this nation reinvests itself into much newer technology so that our skills is needed, we shall lose our competitive edge to globalisation. We also need to have a new set of work ethics and mentality. There is no such thing as a 9-to-5 job anymore as we have to communicate with clients and collegues from the other side of the world.

This is the same thing with NAFTA and all other trade agreements. Globalisation is a fact and it is fruitless for us to combat what is real. What this nation need is evolvement of mentality. We must be willing to reinnovate ourselves so that we remain at the top of the chain. Else, why bother hiring someone from this nation if i can get 4 other workers with your wage who are willing to strive much harder? This is the same thing as firing an older employee so that you can hire two younger ones who are up with times and have new ideas. Just that it is now on a global scale.

Walt

SteveT, do you actually know anything about the engineers at Intel? I'm guessing not.

Namior

to "a student"; You seem to be conflating technological CHANGE with technological IMPROVEMENT. While technology might provide a small increase in productivity, it might also produce serious externalities which if internalized would justify its non-adoption. Some form of trade can be seen as such a technology. I don't see how you can miss that point.... The fact that trade is similar to technology doesn't necessarily mean it has to be adopted - there are plenty of technologies who have gone unadopted because the negative externalities did not outweigh the productivity gains.

a student

Namior:
The technological change argument is the way I think about the distributional consequences of trade, i.e. that it creates winners and losers, quite apart from any discussion of externalities.

If you want to talk about the external consequences of trade, then that is a whole new ball game. However, it is sometimes hard to talk about these things without concrete examples.

Namior

a student:
On the distributional front, trade agreement are much more like regulation than like technological progress. Technological progress (or no progress) is not decided at the societal level and is not part of the social contract. When creating new knowledge or products, individuals goals is not to insure a stable, rich and fruitful society. Moreover, one cannot be against technological progress because it is a process, not a rule or regulation nor something that can be avoided or controlled in the long term. When instituting trade rules, however, we are setting a social contract, writing regulation (which has, among other effects, a distributional effect). Now, if you advocate free trade on neoclassical grounds in all situations, you must also advocate the elimination of most current regulation, including that on child labour or safety as these regulations also diminish welfare in classical models. Likening free trade to technological progress is disingenuous in that it cast free trade in the role of the unavoidable of progressive good while avoiding all the side issues. I could also claim that some welfare creating regulation, such as some intellectual property laws , is like technological progress. It would again be a poor comparison and one that is made mostly to cast your preferred position in a good light. It's a rhetorical analogy and nothing else. Using your requirement for analogies, I could claim that putting an offender in prison is the same as tech. progress: it creates winners and losers and creates wealth at the aggregate. Could I use this argument to put any offender in any type of prison for any length of times? No - it's not technological progress, it's regulation. And regulation always necessitates a careful cost-benefit analysis. The devil is in the details.

alex

a student: "However, I would not agree that currency manipulation (I assume you mean by the Chinese) has hurt the US economy."

You don't think that the current account deficit is a problem? I do.

Yes, other factors are involved too, but currency manipulation is a biggie.

"If the Chinese want to sell us cheap things, that's great."

It would be great if it were sustainable. See above comment about currency manipulation and the current account deficit.

"Of course, people will retort that this has hollowed out manufacturing in the US, but I would counter that this is just like a technology improvement that creates winners and losers, and we begin the circle again..."

What circle?

The US has an enormous trade deficit in both mineral resources (e.g. oil) and manufactured goods. We may reduce oil imports, etc., but with our large population and high standard of living we won't be a net exporter of mineral resources. Our vaunted surplus in services is tiny compared to either, and realistically will never come close to compensating for the others. Ergo the only way we will ever come close to balancing our trade is by running a surplus in manufactured goods. For a high wage country like the US to do this is quite possible - both Germany and Japan do.

However, as you note, we've "hollowed out manufacturing in the US". Getting it back isn't easy. This is the J-curve writ large. Back in the mid-1980's before the Plaza Accord started to straighten out the trade deficit, we hadn't lost our manufacturing base - factories were simply running well below capacity. Ramping up to higher capacity is a lot faster than the rebuilding we'd now have to do.

Nor is it just a matter of placing orders to build new factories. Industries require people with specialized expertise, which can take years to acquire. Globalization notwithstanding, agglomeration is also a factor. There are reasons why finance is heavily concentrated in Manhattan and electronics/software in Silicon Valley.

This sort of path dependence is given short shrift in economic analysis.

"P.S. I don't get the joke about the Holiday Inn."

From some TV commercials they had, wherein staying at a Holiday Inn was humorously suggested as the next best thing to actual expertise.

save_the_rustbelt

If Mankiw were to give up his tenure and accept free trade he could be replaced by a Chinese professor at much less cost. Do this throughout Harvard and tuition could come down considerably.

So does Mankiw really like free trade, or just the part that destroys blue collar jobs?

save_the_rustbelt

If Mankiw were to give up his tenure and accept free trade he could be replaced by a Chinese professor at much less cost. Do this throughout Harvard and tuition could come down considerably.

So does Mankiw really like free trade, or just the part that destroys blue collar jobs?

alex

StevenT: "When you say there is no comparative advantage for Intel to build a new fab plant in China other than lower wages is wrong."

You're confusing relative and absolute advantage, which means that you have no understanding of the issue that's been at the center of trade debates since at least the early 19th century.

Given the numerous cliches, myths and cheerleader calls in the rest of your post, it's clear that you're a kindred spirit of Thomas Friedman.

a student

alex:
The current account deficit might be a problem, but not for the reason you suggest. The current account deficit reflects low personal and public saving in the US. To the extent that these decisions are poor ones, and there are sensible reasons to think that, then it is a concern.

Currency manipulation can affect US saving because the way the Chinese are keeping their currency low is through buying up lots of US debt, making it easier to dis-save. The fact that the US is choosing to dis-save in the face of low interest rates is not surprising, and to is not a poor decision, as long as it is taken into account that this will not be a permanent state of affairs. I do, however, think that the public sector has not dealt with these low interest rates too well.

There are a few caveats. You mention path dependence. Well, I would argue that the jobs lost to China are not the high value jobs, but low value jobs. Certainly, that has to be the case if people are worried about China taking the jobs of lower wage workers in the US. If this leads the US to specialize more in the high value sector, I think that's good. Path dependence can work both ways.

As for worrying about balancing the deficit, well to me it looks like that is slowly starting to happen, at least as far as the private sector goes.

david

Dani,

I order pizza once a week from a local pizza place. Recently, a new pizza place opened in the next town over, and I am beginning to order their pizza.

My decision to buy pizza from the new place hurts the local pizza place owner and possibly his workers. If enough people do as I do, then the local pizza place will go out of business, causing local job losses.

Note this scenario unfolds any time that a consumer chooses to deivate from his current consumption path; there is a winner (the new pizza place) and a loser (the old pizza place). (And of course, the consumer is a winner, I now get better pizza).

Question: If feasible, should my town restrict my ability to buy pizza from the shop in the next town over?

david

Dani,

I order pizza once a week from a local pizza place. Recently, a new pizza place opened in the next town over, and I am beginning to order their pizza.

My decision to buy pizza from the new place hurts the local pizza place owner and possibly his workers. If enough people do as I do, then the local pizza place will go out of business, causing local job losses.

Note this scenario unfolds any time that a consumer chooses to deivate from his current consumption path; there is a winner (the new pizza place) and a loser (the old pizza place). (And of course, the consumer is a winner, I now get better pizza).

Question: If feasible, should my town restrict my ability to buy pizza from the shop in the next town over?

a student

Namoir:
Trade is like technological progress because you put in fewer inputs to get the same output (in utility terms). Throwing somebody in jail is not like that at all.

We don't regulate to allow trade, we regulate to stand in it's way. Just like we could regulate to stand in the way of technical progress. The analogy still stands up in my mind.

StevenT

Alex and Walt. Lets talk about the Intel subject then.

Walt. What do you know about the engineers in Intel? Do you work in that industry? I guess not.

Alex. What comparative advantage does Intel has in this nation in contrast to China?

Namior

We can also regulate to encourage technological progress (intellectual property). You see, your analogy associates a moral judgment to concepts - regulation is bad (it hampers technological progress), trade is good (it is like technological progress). That is where your main flaw lies - the only reason you like to think of free trade as technological progress is because technological progress is intrinsically good and you want THAT characteristic to be associated with free trade, even though it should not necessarily be.

Putting people in jail CAN lead to increased productivity, i.e. more output for less inputs, if that individual was causing negative productivity shocks - think of it as a new technology which now better avoids machinery (or labour input) failure by better monitoring and controlling the conditions under which machinery fails.

I'm glad you do not accept the technological analogy in the case of the jail because it underlines my point - you do not associate free trade and tech. progress because of their respective characteristics, but rather because you want to shed positive light on the former by using the intrinsic goodness of the latter. When the same technique is used to prop up something else - regulation in the form of jail time in this case - you reject the analogy even though the effects can be likened in a similar fashion.

corvad

david -- does your town restrict your pizza shop from hiring out-of-town pizza workers?

a student

Namior:
I wasn't associated moral judgment to anything. I was just saying that if there were no regulation, you would have free trade, contrary to your assertion.
This jail example is strange, but let's go with it. I'm saying that we are OK with people losing their job for technological progress, and because trade is like technological progress, then we should be OK with people losing their job for that reason. Nobody is getting thrown in jail here. I'm just making this argument in the context of distributional consequences within the US.

Namior

A student: If you wouldn't have regulations (intellectual property), there would be much less innovation and technological progress. My point is exactly that you try to put down regulation by saying that without it we would have a situation in which there would be the equivalent of more technological progress. What I am telling you is that your argument is fallacious. Without regulation, we would have more free trade. But free trade is NOT the same thing as technological progress. Its negative effects go way beyond the distributional impact. And there is no market way to decide what kind of "free trade" is better unlike with technologies for which the ethical decisions about which is appropriate can easily be made by individual firms and can hardly be hidden from consumers. The point is that likening the two and then saying "if you like one, you have to like the other" is intellectually wrong as there are more differences than similarities between the two. If you like a car that happens to be orange and I then turn and say "you must like this house, it's orange too", would you necessarily agree?

a student

Namoir:
Again, I reiterate, I'm making the analogy in the context of distributional consequences within the US.
I'm not putting down regulation. You said that technological progress and free trade are not the same because you pass regulation for free trade, but technological change is a process that does not require it. I was saying that is incorrect (and now you are saying that technological change needs regulation). I think you are reading far too much into what I say.

OK, so to be clear, I think economists, and myself, are OK with the distributional consequences of free trade within the US because it's effects in that dimension are like technological change. There is very little difference between the two, if any, in that dimension. If you want to open the debate up to what happens overseas, then by all means, but I think that other countries overwhelmingly benefit from having access to US markets. The arguments that people use against this generally do not hold much water. Empirical studies show that the use of child labor is decreasing in trade with the US (causation is difficult to determine here, but that's the best guess), similarly the environment benefits (there isn't much work done in this area, but that's the direction of the work that I've seen). There's also a case to be made that the environment in the US benefits. Cities would be a lot more polluted without small Japanese cars!

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I could also claim that some welfare creating regulation, such as some intellectual property laws , is like technological progress. It would again be a poor comparison and one that is made mostly to cast your preferred position in a good light. It's a rhetorical analogy and nothing else.

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they are united in opposition to the undemocratic process of globalization from above, which is guided by financial elites. As time passes it becomes more essential that ‘globalization from below....

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