A Debate on Globalization and Trade with China

There’s an interesting internet debate on globalization generally and free-trade with China specifically, largely in TPM Cafe. It started between Brad DeLong and Jeff Faux (of the Economic Policy Institute). It’s now encompassed Mark Schmitt and Henry Farrell. It started with Jeff Faux on Davos:

All markets generate class politics –conflict among groups over, as Harold Lasswell once famously put it, “Who Gets What.” So it’s no surprise that a cross-border class politics has developed in the wake of the globalizing economy. At this point it is pretty much a one-party system. Call it the Party of Davos, after the annual elite bash in the Swiss Alps that resembles the big-donor receptions at a political convention –corporate CEOs and world class investors, the people who carry their bags, and the politicians, pundits and policy intellectuals who carry their water.

Brad followed up with:

Is there a way to interpret Jeff other than as a call to keep China a society of poor subsistence rice farmers as long as possible–keep them poor, barefoot, uneducated, and by no means allow them to work at any of the high-value manufacturing occupations we want to keep in the United States?

Jeff Faux’s response:

Brad missed the point. There are rich people in poor countries and poor people in rich countries. China is not just a society of poor, barefoot, uneducated peasants. At the top, China is a place of immense wealth. Let me ask Brad: Why is it that it is the responsibility of $40,000 year American working families to sacrifice their future in order to raise up the living standards of poor Chinese, when commissars turned capitalists ride around Shanghai in a different Rolls every day?

The forth and back and forth and back and forth and back, as well as Mark Schmitt (and Jeff Faux’s response) and Henry Farrell on the issue are well worth a read.