ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, April 20, 2007

Econ Podcast: Self-Sufficiency is the Road to Poverty

One of the great things about the blogosphere, podcasts, and the internet in general is the sharing of knowledge. For example, I'm a regular reader of Cafe Hayek a econ blog which is co-authored by two econ professors from George Mason University. Prior to the internet, blogs, and podcasts, you'd have to pay significant tuition or wait for these professors to periodically publish a book or write in an academic journal in order to get their insight into the matters of the day.

I write this because they've recently posted this EconTalk Podcast, discussing the infatuation of some to be "Self-Sufficent" and/or "buy local" (and by extension have "No Impact") - topics which I've blogged about extensively in the past. This podcast is just under 1 hour, but it is very insightful and informative. I recommend that anyone listen to it if you get a moment. It's great for those who have some sympathy for protectionist arguments nationally, have "buy local" inclinations at the local level, and points out how trade barriers are the path to poverty. They also point out that Buy Local (and protectionism in general) is about as un-progressive as you can be.

One of the things that Boudreaux & Roberts don't mention in the podcast is the environmental impact of buying local. Imagine having to purchase your automobile from a manfucaturer located within 100 or 150 miles. Imagine that the manufacturer also operated under Buy Local guidelines and so on, and so on. Now certainly, a buy local supply chain could span the entire country, but the impact of such a pervasive mentality would be environmental destruction spread across the country - ie, materials to make steel mined within 100 miles of the steel smelters, steel smelters evenly spread 100 miles from the car manufacturers. Car manufacturers located every 150 miles, etc, etc.

A second thought that I have regarding Protectionism and its purest form, isolationism is this: If Self-Sufficiency and buying within your own political borders is the route to prosperity and protection of jobs, why is the ultimate punishment by the United Nations sanctions? And normally, UN Sanctions are only in certain product categories. I mean, if countries really did not want to rely on Others for their material goods, why wouldn't they welcome sanctions which restrict trade from outside? No longer would people and companies within that country have to compete with those low paid foreign workers and everything would be just peachy, right?

The protectionists like Lou Dobbs, Pat Buchanan, and many in the "progressive community" realize that full protectionism is the surest way to economic ruin. But, if free trade is good in certain sectors, why is it not good in all?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Comments (2)
Brian said...

Let's sanction ourselves! Great argument.

The whole article reminds me of the guy in New York that is living "local" that you posted on a while back.

Do you think he realizes that everybody in NYC couldn't possibly emulate his lifestyle? That the city itself would disintegrate? You can't feed 12 million people with food grown within 150 miles.

St Wendeler said...

Hey, but that guy feels good about his lifestyle. Heck, even when he commits the sin of eating in a restaurant, he gets to talk to his guru in San Fran for absolution!