Questioning "Free Trade": Who Says Elephants Can't Learn?
"In a December 1999 Wall Street Journal-NBC poll,
37% of Republicans said trade deals had helped the
U.S. and 31% said they had hurt, while 26% said
they made no difference.
The new poll asked a broader but similar question.
It posed two statements to voters. The first was,
"Foreign trade has been good for the U.S. economy,
because demand for U.S. products abroad has resulted
in economic growth and jobs for Americans here at
home and provided more choices for consumers."
The second was, "Foreign trade has been bad for the
U.S. economy, because imports from abroad have
reduced demand for American-made goods, cost jobs
here at home, and produced potentially unsafe products."
Asked which statement came closer to their own view,
59% of Republicans named the second statement,
while 32% pointed to the first."
Of course, there are distinguished economists out there who actually worry about the decidedly mixed effects of generalized "free trade" or globalization. Should you be interested you might start with these two short (wholly non-technical) essays   by Pranab Bardhan (UC Berkeley) and also check out the blog Dani Rodrik (Harvard) has started to write. The point is not that we necessarily ought to erect high barriers to trade (or the mobility of capital or labor); it is simply that we can try to control those processes rather than simply allowing the already well-situated take advantage of economic "freedom" at the expense of the usually less well off. Our economic arranagements are and should be subject to democratic political control. Even Republicans may come around!