Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Katrina Relief and Softwood Lumber,

I recently picked up on a posting by Brian Ferguson that if the US wants to help with the rebuilding along the Gulf Coast, it should take the illegal tariff off the import of Canadian softwood lumber. I cross-posted that piece to The Western Standard, where it prompted considerable discussion. In response to the comments there, Brian has greatly extended his analysis at A Canadian Econoview. Here are his concluding paragraphs:

[P]rotectionism is a powerful drug and those who are hooked on it fight furiously to stay on it. And the benefits of free trade are never obvious to the public at large. We in the economics profession have not done a good job of selling the notion. It's kind of embarrassing, in fact, to think that we're still fighting the anti-mercantilist battle that Adam Smith entered into with the Wealth of Nations. It'll take a long time before most countries are willing to follow the example of 19th Century Britain and adopt a general, and genuine, free trade policy.

Battles like those we have with the US through NAFTA and the EU through the WTO make the whole business look pretty futile. Unfortunately, there are so many interests vested in protectionist policies that it's a struggle that'll have to be won by inches. Ultimately, though, they are battles that are worth fighting.
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