Killing time in a doctor’s waiting room in the mid-1990’s, I chanced to pick up a well-thumbed copy of TIME.
In their cover story, the editors had undertaken to enlighten America on the awesome benefits of free trade (It was in a different waiting room half a dozen years later where a different issue of TIME lavished praise on this great guy running for President named George W. Bush. You can see for yourself how the fortunes of both the magazine and the man have hit the skids.)
At any rate, TIME’s free trade issue was replete with little homilies about things like the theory of competitive advantage: if, say, the Taiwanese could make sneakers more cheaply than the we could, then we should be positively thrilled to hand over those jobs to them. Consumers would reap the benefits in the form of cheaper shoes, and our formerly sneaker-making workers would be freed up to do something they could do better, like, … well, the article didn’t say. The only thing that might gum up this idyllic “free-trade-in-action” scenario was some politician’s ill-advised attempt to protect American jobs by levying import duties on those Asian shoes.