Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Hold Hollywood Hostage to Kill Farm Subsidies?
Prof. Lessig has a fun little piece here.
I think the Professor is right in arguing that the way to free trade is to pit different business lobbyists against each other. Industries (steel, sugar, textiles, etc.) that can exclude their competition through protectionist arguments that appeal to both the hard right and the hard left have too much of an interest (and the rest of us are not paying enough attention because the loss is to spread out) to rig the market in their favor. The best watchdog in the end are the other industries that have the prices of their inputs go up as a result of these tactics (maybe auto companies? construction companies?) or companies that will be affected by retalatory tariffs from other countries. Besides that, I think the only long term method of securing free trade would to simply bribe the workers that would otherwise lose their jobs. Take either the salary they earn after the trade deal or the salary that we think they should expect to earn (to prevent over consumption of leisure), whichever is lesser, and the difference between that number and their old salary (before the trade deal) should be given to workers as a bribe for a fixed number of years. Obviously, this would be a blatant payoff to a group that was receiving economic rent beforehand, but since they have the power to kill an otherwise lucrative trade deal and we as a nation would still be ahead economically on the deal, I would be for this as a last-resort to protect free-trade.

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