The Closet Moderate: Globalization... why spherical things scare me

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Globalization... why spherical things scare me

A fellow blogard shared this article via Google Reader today. And since the new Comment feature on Reader is crashing constantly, I'm going to try to goad the other folks on CM to discuss.

In short, the article claims that the country must choose 2 of the following 3 things: globalization, small government, and social stability. The author takes British and American conservatives to task for believing "that policies that support globalization must not be touched." I have several objections to this, not least the fact that this is hardly a conservative-only position. Quite a few liberals also hold this view. But who really cares what side (or sides) think this? The real question is should we think this?

The basic premise of the article is that globalization is a choice, and one we're making blindly. And the U.S. has done many things that support a globalized economy. But what really is the alternative? Are there economists who think that protectionism can work in the long-term? I'll grant that globalization wrecks havoc on labor markets since they're highly inelastic and gov't programs to alleviate that (retraining, unemployment comp, etc) are expensive and big government. But why not frame the choice as you can have 2 of the following three: protectionism, small government, increasing standards of living? North Korea is about as protectionist as you can get, and last I checked they're not doing so well.

Obviously I haven't done much other than present a straw man here, but hopefully folks better versed than I can get into this in future posts or the comments. Any takers?

1 comment:

Silent Cal said...

I was also appalled by that article. First, the "conservative" position is a straw man, and inaccurate, as you point out. Second, the choice presented as fact in the beginning of the article is far from factual, and has been the subject of vigorous debate since Peel wanted to repeal the Corn Laws. I refuse to engage in a debate based on false premises, which is why I for many years refused to speak the words "redistribution" and "class" aloud in certain contexts.

I read Niall Ferguson's Pity of War and found it fairly convincing, but I think he's way off on this one.