November 27, 2004

Achtung, Trader!

At the end of an otherwise humdrum paean to free trade, David Brooks gets a bit unfair on our favorite rock stars:
Just once, I'd like to see someone like Bono or Bruce Springsteen stand up at a concert and speak the truth to his fan base: that the world is complicated and there are no free lunches. But if you really want to reduce world poverty, you should be cheering on those guys in pinstripe suits at the free-trade negotiations and those investors jetting around the world.
The Boss I can't speak for, but my understanding was that Bono's public pronouncements on globalization have been restricted mainly to debt relief and asking the United States (quite rightly) to repeal its agricultural subsidies. True, he calls the latter "fair trade" but it's quite clearly "free". In general, however, "free traders" who focus on the hypocrisy of G-8 tariffs are missing the point—Third World countries still have a much, much higher average tariff rate than First World countries do. But so it goes.
-- Brad Plumer 7:19 PM || ||