Sunday, August 12, 2007

Free Trade

In Walt Kelly's comic strip, "Pogo," several lines appeared from time to time. One of them was: "When is lunch?" Another was: "We have met the enemy and they are us."

That's the problem with international trade. Every one of us who works for a living plays two roles in the economy: producer and consumer.

As producers, we seek protection from foreigners who are willing to work for wages lower than ours. Free trade denies us protection from lower-wage competition.

As consumers, we want to buy the best quality goods at the lowest prices. Free trade helps us to achieve this goal.

Many of us are retired or otherwise not included in the labor force. All of us are consumers. There are 300 million consumers in the United States. Less than half of that number are producers.

There is no use in blaming politicians for supporting free trade. They are simply trying to satisfy the needs of the greatest number of Americans, the consumers. In a democracy, politicians cannot do anything else.

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