An op-ed in the New York Times on Jan. 16 titled "What to Expect When You’re Free Trading", by University of Rochester economist Steven Landsburg, is the reason economics is called the dismal science. There are few things that are more repugnant, intellectually and morally, than a person with secure employment in a well-paying job (with health benefits and a pension plan) nonchalantly dismissing the anxieties of workers who become unemployed, or who are under the threat of becoming unemployed, due to the effects of globalization (which is the polite phrase for global corporate extortion). Because Mr. Landsburg could not quantify his theories, he decided to use a series of absurd analogies to buttress his unsupportable conclusions. The excesses of unregulated market forces often have been allowed to create chaos in our domestic economy (e.g., the many Savings and Loan institution scandals of the 1980's and 1990's, the many corporation accounting scandals of the past decade, and the current sub-prime Mortgage debacle), and defenders of the faith also are content to let unregulated market forces wreak havoc with our international trade. Mr. Landsburg thinks that we do not owe any type of compensation to employees or businesses who are adversely affected by unfair trade competition because he asserts: "I doubt there’s a human being on earth who hasn’t benefited from the opportunity to trade freely with his neighbors." Mr. Landsburg knowingly neglects to mention that there are also few human beings on earth who have not suffered some negative consequences from trading freely with their neighbors. Economists are fond of saying that market forces are neither good nor evil, but it is more accurate to say that market forces are both good and evil, and there is no natural order of things in this universe that requires people to observe passively while market forces devastate civil society.
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