Several people whom I follow wrote things on free trade last week.
For example, Dr. Φ has a piece mocking Robin Hanson. Laura Wood has some thoughts on free trade from the traditionalist perspective. The Business Insider notes that there’s a global competition for "good jobs".
Aretae has a free trade "puzzle" that does a good job of cutting to the differences I have with him. He asks: "How many people does it require before free trade is a bad idea?"
To answer his question with a question, I would ask: "How different do two populations have to be before their optimal trade policies would differ?"
For example, the free trader apparently believes that Mali and Singapore have the exact same optimal trade policy. That is an incredibly strange finding and I would be willing to wager a lot that it’s not true.
I’ve just started reading Lee Kwan Yew‘s memoirs. It’s interesting that even Singapore went through of phase of protectionism. It would be nice if the free traders at least would admit that reality doesn’t seem to comport with their theory – i.e. it seems that all actually developed countries went through a phase of protectionism. Yew feared mass unemployment much more than high-priced, lower-quality goods. Is it really too much to ask that we admit that this trade-off exists?