“Values” and trade

If you don’t want to defend the claim that we should keep a billion Chinese hungry to avoid changes in the mix of economic activity in the U.S., you can just call it a “values issue.” Much easier than thinking, isn’t it?

Have you noticed that when someone on the Religious Right says that something is a “values issue” that means “I have no good argument for my position, which if adopted will lead to needless suffering, so instead of reasoning I’ll call everyone who disagrees with me a Bad Person”?

You have? Good.

And have you also noticed that when the Populist Left uses the same phrase, it means exactly the same thing?

I can understand why Brad DeLong invented an imaginary Lou Dobbsian opponent for his pro-trade position and gave him a name which means “false.” What puzzles me is how he got his sock-puppet onto TPM. But then Brad is obviously much cleverer than I am.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com