Friday, November 21, 2008

The Siren's Song of Manufacturing

Today on Morning Joe Pat Buchanan mourned the decline of the manufacturing sector, whose members now (supposedly) work at Wal-Mart. Forget that over the past thirty years median individual income rose about 40%. Even if they were becoming nurses and lawyers (and they are), Buchanan still prefers manufacturing cars, toys, and electronics in America, by American firms.

Manufacturing is no more important than farming, customer support, or mining. The key is never one sector. The key to American prosperity (among other things) is trade. Freer trade opens the plethora of human ingenuity to more people at steadily decreasing amounts of effort. Alaskans get bananas year round. Nevadans get free tech support. Indianans get toys under the tree. Just because we can't point to a single area where everyone works doesn't mean they can't find good jobs, obtain consumer goods, or live a fuller life. Freer trade means all these things are more common, not less.

No comments: