The Race to the Top

Radley Balko has an excellent article pointing out the usual anti-globalization cant happens to be 180-degrees from the truth, in that instead of an environmental "Race to the Bottom", there seems to be a "Race to the Top", as the richest countries with the greatest environmental regulations paradoxically get the bulk of the cross-border inflow of polluting industry.

Free trade is not a problem for the environment, autarky and protectionism is.

Share this

"Free trade is not a problem

"Free trade is not a problem for the environment, autarky and protectionism is."

What do NAFTA, GATT, and the WTO have to do with free trade? If globalization were free trade why would we need a new word for it? Globalization is the regulation of international markets.

They are all 2nd-best trade

They are all 2nd-best trade solutions in light of the alternative, which is high tariff walls and export/import barriers. Yes, its managed trade with lots of interventionist rules and outcomes, but the result is more trade on the margin, and that's a good thing.

The word 'Globalization', like the word 'capitalism', is a word coined by opponents of the process of ever extended division of labor. The idea that markets could knit together (as they were in the 19th century) and allow a global flow of goods, capital, and people (though not labor), is anathema to established interests around the globe. Thus they decry "globalization" as some sort of intentional policy to screw them over, when in fact its simply the passive fact of greater market development (or, truly, a recovery to the status quo of the late 19th century).

"They are all 2nd-best trade

"They are all 2nd-best trade solutions in light of the alternative, which is high tariff walls and export/import barriers. Yes, its managed trade with lots of interventionist rules and outcomes, but the result is more trade on the margin, and thatâ??s a good thing."

Which is better - the unilateral dropping of trade barriers or tens of thousands of pages of "free trade" agreements?

"hus they decry

"hus they decry â??globalizationâ?? as some sort of intentional policy to screw them over, when in fact its simply the passive fact of greater market development (or, truly, a recovery to the status quo of the late 19th century)."

NAFTA, GATT, and the WTO, which Balko cites as emblematic of globalism, are certainly not "passive facts" of greater market development nor any sort of a recovery of laissez faire.

Its a recovery of the global

Its a recovery of the global trade system. In the 19th century it wasn't laissez-faire either, but broad liberalized trade between competing imperial blocks, and trade between the European nations proper (Europe providing the nexus for each Empire's goods to flow from one to the other), with the US being a neutral go-between.

Its not too much different in today's system of trade management, except that there are multiple nexii of trade (east asia, europe, US). The more trade there is, the more pressure builds against trade barriers. The 19th century was marked by intense European rivalry and competition, and yet trade increased and was more interdependent at the end of the Imperial era vs. the start, and that was due to the inexorable logic of trade. It took World War I to demolish the system and WWII to finish it off, and then 60 years to recover.

Of the perfect and the good- that is, of unilateral trade barrier removal vs. bilateral or multilateral trade agreements- I would prefer the perfect but will take the good.

Of course, not all that is labeled a trade agreement actually *is*, and so would not be of the good; e.g. the US-Australia trade agreement, which actually restricts more trade than it liberalizes.