Just when I had given up on the left...

They pull me back in.

I've noticed lately that it's a lot easier to argue about the benefits of free trade with left-liberals than it is with conservatives, primarily because left-liberals do not tend to be rabid nationalists who care only about their fellow countrymen, let the rest of the world be damned.

This is not to say that I think free trade only helps foreign economies at the expense of the U.S. economy - it helps both. But for those who have difficulty understanding the law of comparative advantage, which seems to be almost everyone but professional economists these days, the left is more willing to accept free trade because the benefits to India and China are pretty damn obvious.

Maria Farrell puts a human face on outsourcing - something which is not done often enough:

I wonder; what did we all think was going to happen with those aid programmes and World Bank mantras? Did we forget that the ?developing? in developing countries is a verb, not just a description, and that one day it might actually happen? Did we really think they?d play nice and be content to be merely another export market for the West? Wasn?t it clear that forcing open others? markets for FDI in manufacturing and services while keeping our own markets closed in agriculture would make it rational to develop the former? And wasn?t it inevitable that forward-looking people in those countries would think to leap frog up the value chain with their technology parks and their Information Super Corridors? Because all that guff about bridging the digital divide isn?t just guff in developing countries. It is gospel. And, in small but important ways, it is starting to work.

Just as we seemed to lose sight of what it means to preach the benefits of information and communication technologies for economic growth and development, I think we?re also forgetting what is so good about outsourcing in developing countries. It is creating and supporting a middle class in countries with young or fragile democracies, or no democracy at all. Outsourcing is the market-friendly face of ?soft power?, of making friends around the world by giving people just as big a stake in peace as the most lucky and affluent.

Welcome to the world, indeed. I look forward to the day when no one in the world is forced to live in a "third-world nation," when no mother must watch her children starve because of a lack of economic opportunity. When market forces and free trade lead to more egalitarian outcomes, we all benefit.

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Matthew Yglesias sees an

Matthew Yglesias sees an outright flip between left and right on trade.

Blah! What leftists are you

Blah!

What leftists are you guys talking to?

What I find in the course of my arguments/discussions/etcetera with just about anyone on the left is - with almost zero exceptions - the leftists I come into contact with quite generally DO turn into rabid nationalists when the subject of free trade comes up.

I mean, collectivism as a concept inherently contradicts the usual pledge of anti-nationalism - I've long found that such devotions are largely phony.

The conservatives I hash with are almost always on the same page as I am until the red elephant comes up - foreign policy and the military.

My experience is totally the opposite of yours, Micha. I wish it wasn't. Here's hoping I just run into aberrations and your observations are the beginning of a trend.

Read through some of the

Read through some of the comment threads whenever Radley Balko posts on free trade. Then read some of the comment threads whenever Matthew Yglesias, Brad Delong, or the folks at Crooked Timber post on free trade. Rarely do I see admitted leftists criticizing free trade on the grounds that it hurts Americans but helps foreign workers. There are a few leftists who make such criticisms, but I see the nationalism coming mainly from the right.