Monday, December 31, 2007

The economic isolationists are winning

A new poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal (conducted Dec. 14-17, 2007):

"Do you think the fact that the American economy has become increasingly global is good because it has opened up new markets for American products and resulted in more jobs, or bad because it has subjected American companies and employees to unfair competition and cheap labor?"

28 % of the American public said globalization is good, while 58 % said it is bad.

Note that even the pro-trade part of the question presumes a mercantilist approach to the issue. In actuality, trade is not primarily about more or fewer jobs but about allocating labor among industries toward those in which we have a comparative advantage. I doubt, however, that a more economically literate rewording of the question would have found the American public sympathetic to globalization.