Pensions--yet again, still
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"The Rise of American Protectionism"

Richard Epstein demolishes the arguments in favor of protectionism.

There is, however, a powerful way to see that free trade in international markets is not the villain. It is to look at trade and the competition for business between states. This point was missed by Time’s trade writer Rana Foroohar. She starts off correctly by noting that globalization and free trade do increase global wealth and prosperity. But she then adds this unwise caveat: “But they have also increased the wealth divide within countries, in part because these forces created concentrated groups of economic losers in specific parts of our country,” including the Midwestern Rust Belt, which gave Trump and Sanders the opening to power themselves to their recent victories in Michigan.

On this last point, Foroohar’s narrative goes badly astray. The Rust Belt states have been hit hard because they have been badly governed. They lose much of their business to other states that are better governed. Just look at the internal migration of people and businesses across state lines within the United States—changes that cannot be attributed to the supposedly malevolent influence of foreign trade on domestic trade. It can, however, be attributed to differences in the business climate across the states.

Epstein's piece should be more than enough. But if you want more, the Washington Post's David Ignatius has it: "The Mistaken Bipartisan Attack on Free Trade".

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