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No Wonder

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"No Wonder"

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Cato’s Daniel Griswold sings the praises of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine:

In an interview with Bloomberg News that was published this morning, Kaine said he disagreed with members of his party who criticize globalization and trade agreements such as NAFTA. Their attitude displays a “loser’s mentality,” Kaine countered, adding that, “The only way you’ll succeed [in the global economy] is by being an aggressive competitor rather than trying to hoard your dwindling assets.”

I must have heard orthodox free trader economists bemoan the public’s lack of understanding of trade issues — the inability to see that trade is a positive-sum enterprise, not one that pits countries against each other in competition — but one rarely sees it acknowledged that one reason people don’t understand this is that free traders don’t state their own case correctly. What Kaine is saying here is nonsense — mercantalism plus optimism — not anything that improves the public discourse. Once Kaine calls trade skeptics losers, the next move is to accuse China of “cheating,” and around and around we go trapped in the assumption that trade is a game with nation-level winners and losers, as opposed to individual beneficiaries and sufferers.

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