The Mystical Power of Free Trade

Some people find it hard to believe it really works, but it does

Free trade is always a hard sell. In all of social science, the proposition that comes closest to being scientific, in terms of being theoretically provable and true in real life, is that a society benefits from allowing its citizens to buy what they wish--even from foreigners. But people resist this conclusion, sometimes violently, as in Seattle last week. Why?

A couple of reasons. First, the principle of free trade may be true, but it's not obviously true. In fact, it's counterintuitive. If a factory shuts down because of a flood of cheap foreign products, how is that good? If middle-class...

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