The cramped morality of trade protectionism

“If a product is seen only as the opportunity for work, it is certain that the anxieties of protectionists are well founded.” –Frédéric Bastiat, Economic Sophisms Drawing inspiration from a 1847 essay by the inimitable Frédéric Bastiat, economist Donald Boudreaux tackles a popular argument from today’s trade protectionists: namely, “that protectionism is justified if enough consumers or voters are willing to pay higher prices in order to help workers.” The problem, of course, is that such a perspective debases the value of labor to the value of products and vice versa, ignoring the many other relationships and ripple-effects that production and trade are bound to inspire. Continue Reading...

Free trade propaganda from … Communist China?

In the wake of the last presidential election, the American people appear to be fracturing and shifting on the long-held consensus about the benefits of free trade. Meanwhile, state-owned television in the People’s Republic of China is churning out pro-trade propaganda such as this (HT Pethokoukis): Yet the underlying irony is a bit overstated, I’d suspect. Continue Reading...

Called to the coalfields: How an Appalachian church is spurring economic action

Due to a rapidly changing economy and a range of excessive regulations from the federal government, the American coal mining industry is facing serious challenges. For states like West Virginia, the effects are particularly painful, as mining towns and communities struggle under a projected 23% decline in related jobs in recent years, leading vast numbers of residents to leave the state altogether. Continue Reading...

Is ‘fair trade’ fair?

Most consumers have heard of fair-trade coffee, but have no idea how fair-trade actually works. In this video, economist Victor Claar covers the basics of the fair-trade model, and explores whether fair trade can deliver on its promises to help the poor. Continue Reading...