Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Letter to the NY Times re: Stifling Free Trade

From: Patrick Barron
To: NY Times
Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 10:02 AM
Subject: A Brilliant Call for Autarky and War

Re: Stifling the Economy, One Argument at a Time, by Robert E. Lighthizer, March 22, 2010

Dear Sirs:
The irony of the title to Mr. Lighthizer's article--Stifling the Economy, One Argument at a Time--is that it applies to HIS arguments and not to those who advocate free trade. Like the front page, above-the-fold report by Mr. Bradsher on March 15, Mr. Lighthizer believes that China is harming others by holding its currency cheap. No, it is harming its own citizens by importing inflation; it is subsidizing its trading partners' lifestyles. It is laughable that Mr. Lighthizer writes that "many economists" believe that China contributed to our housing bubble. Would those be Curly, Moe, and Larry? And what is Mr. Lighthizer's brilliant answer to his upside down view of the world?--Make the rest of the world raise taxes to America's level and make the rest of the world adopt our punishing labor and environmental regulations. Since the rest of the world is unlikely to follow America as we jump off this bridge, Mr. Lighthizer would have us adopt trade barriers, ala Messrs Smoot and Hawley. Americans' view of free trade indeed has been poisoned, as Mr. Lighthizer says, but not by China's trade gap. It has been poisoned by the likes of Mr. Lighthizer himself, whose policies will lead to the same conclusion as did those of Herbert Hoover and FDR--autarky and war.

Patrick Barron
Adjunct Instructor in Austrian Economics
University of Iowa

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