Monday, March 3, 2008

Behavior under the influence

The Russian proverb goes that, if you are looking for a good son-in-law, you would not ask whether he drank but only how he behaved when he was drunk. Similarly, no Democratic candidate during the primaries can be anything but a protectionist. The only question is: of the two, which is likely to be friendlier as president to the cause of multilateral free trade?
--Jagdish Bhagwati, Financial Times, on interpreting wrong-headed protectionist rhetoric in the Democratic campaign

1 comment:

Jess Austin said...

To start with, that proverb is a recipe for giving offense without openly proclaiming oneself racist.

I find the rest of the article incoherent. Wasn't the Doha round killed by the farmers a long time ago? Do any unions actually support NAFTA? Is it actually better to have never supported NAFTA in a 3-year political life than to have supported and then repudiated it 15 years later? Is support for a particular retrograde Democratic anti-trade proposal really a good sign that one won't support yet more?

I left out the appeal to authority. If that's your bag, then Goolsbee might be reason enough to vote for Obama. Obviously, Bhagwati is on the right side of the trade question, but this article is just weird. Why not stump for the candidate who actually supports free trade?