Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A letter to Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH) about free trade

Dear Sen. Brown,

As an Ohioan I find your anti-trade demagoguery frustratingly dimwitted. Voluntary trade is a mutually beneficial act from which both parties benefit. Your argument for restricting trade ignores all of its benefits such as lower prices, a wider variety of goods and services to choose from, and increased cultural awareness. What our world needs is more trade between countries, not less. 

If you are truly concerned about the balance of trade then you will be glad to know that when the US trades with other nations it not only increases our imports but necessarily increases our exports as well. That is because it takes exports to receive imports. Unless of course you think that countries like China are sending us goods and services and asking for nothing in return. Trade is a two-way street.

And while it is true that opening up new avenues for trade may result in the loss of some jobs, it also creates many more. That is because the people who lose their job in one sector of the economy are now able to use their talents in a more productive sector of the economy where the US has a comparative advantage. Labor is a scarce resource and countries are made poorer, not richer, when they squander it on relatively unproductive activities.

If we as society want to help our fellow Americans who are negatively impacted by free trade we can devote more resources to training programs so that the displaced workers can gain the skills needed to be productive at some other activity. But do not blame trade for the ills of our economy. Trade makes Americans wealthier on average and the movement towards more free trade will make us all wealthier still. 

Adam Millsap

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