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Web Letter

Why do almost all pundits come out on the side of "free trade"? Well, who pays them? None other than the vested interests who benefit from "free trade". If anything, the near unanimity of the pro free trade position among media pundits is really just a clear reflection of venality more than any ideological bent or belief. There's more money to be made siding with money than against it.

In answer to Wallace and Anelovic, don't people in a democracy have a right to protect their standard of living? Or do you believe in democracy? For that matter, do you believe people have the right to form independent labor unions?

Is the lowering of living standards in 'developed' countries the proper way to raise living standards in poor countries? If that's what you believe, then you should say that directly, and in person, to someone in a "wealthy" country who is struggling as their living standard falls. Regarding 'generous social policies' are people suppose to forget about decent employment and settle instead for the dole?

You guys sound like liberal Republicans, like Bill Clinton - liberalistic verbiage draped over a Republican core economic agenda, a kinder and gentler Republicanism.

William C. Gilwood

San Dimas, ca

Feb 21 2007 - 3:23am

Web Letter

Although I agree with Eric Alterman on fair trade, I'd like to remind him that just because "the majority of Americans" supports something doesn't make it a good idea.

I'm sure "the majority of Americans" support many things to which Alterman is vehemently opposed; would he appeal to their alleged wisdom then?

Jonathan Wallace

Chapel Hill, North Caroline

Feb 15 2007 - 2:01pm

Web Letter

Dear M. Alterman,

Although I appreciate your good intentions, I don't see how your point of view substantially differs from right-wing nativism. Okay, you talk about being progressive, taking workers' interests into account and all, but you don't seem to care at all about the impact of US trade policy for developing countries.

When you talk about "fair trade," what fairness and whose interests do you have in mind? What you call "tougher trade policy" is just protectionism. In the short term it may help American workers but not necessarily in the long term. Meanwhile, it definitely hurts developing countries, where workers are in a much more difficult position.

Call it internationalism or cosmopolitanism, I believe the moral imperative of global justice entails that we cannot do without the rest of the world. In this respect, Paul Krugman's position (open borders and generous targeted social policies) is not only more internationalist but also much more progressive than yours.

Marcos Ancelovic

Montreal, Canada

Feb 13 2007 - 2:58pm