How to Learn the Value of Free Trade

There are any number of academic lectures, position papers, charts, books, PowerPoint presentations and briefings that are able to demonstrate to an open-minded audience why free trade is preferable to protectionism–or as protectionism is so often (and so misleadingly) called, “fair trade.” And to be sure, academic lectures, position papers, charts, books, PowerPoint presentations and briefings certainly have their place in the world of policy debates and policy education.

But you know what really helps teach the value of free trade?

I’ll tell you: Experience.

My favorite part of William Watson’s post:

At the risk of being overly simplistic, I think it’s worth pointing out how crazy it would be to restrict this trade.  Should offices worry that they’re running a snack trade deficit?  Are some snacks being unfairly traded at too low a price?  Are other offices inadequately inspecting their exports for safety?

I’m glad that the congressional staffers profiled in this story learned a little something about trade. But that’s not enough to affect and influence policy for the better, so here’s hoping that they have a word or two with their bosses about why free trade is important, and why it is preferable to the alternative.