September 1st, 2004


Little Puffs Of Smoke

The Foundation for Economic Education —

Losing Touch
Published in The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty - June 1994
by Donald J. Boudreaux

Dr. Boudreaux is Associate Professor of Law and Economics at Clemson University.

I know two veterans of World War II. Both are exceptionally fine and patriotic Americans. One, call him Bill, flew as a navigator on a B-29 bomber based in the Pacific. The other, call him Joe, fought as an infantryman in Europe. Fortunately, neither was injured during the war. Although alike in many ways, a notable difference between Bill and Joe is that Bill is forever and with great relish recalling his bomber days, while Joe steadfastly refuses to mention his wartime expe riences. Odd as it may seem, this difference between Bill and Joe contains an important lesson about big government and democratic politics.

Politicians, Like Bombers, Seldom See Their Victims . . .

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In Praise of Cheap Labor

Krugman gets something right:

In Praise of Cheap Labor

Bad jobs at bad wages are better than no jobs at all.

By Paul Krugman

       For many years a huge Manila garbage dump known as Smokey Mountain was a favorite media symbol of Third World poverty. Several thousand men, women, and children lived on that dump--enduring the stench, the flies, and the toxic waste in order to make a living combing the garbage for scrap metal and other recyclables. And they lived there voluntarily, because the $10 or so a squatter family could clear in a day was better than the alternatives.
       The squatters are gone now, forcibly removed by Philippine police last year as a cosmetic move in advance of a Pacific Rim summit. But I found myself thinking about Smokey Mountain recently, after reading my latest batch of hate mail.
       The occasion was an op-ed piece I had written for the New York Times, in which I had pointed out that while wages and working conditions in the new export industries of the Third World are appalling, they are a big improvement over the "previous, less visible rural poverty." I guess I should have expected that this comment would generate letters along the lines of, "Well, if you lose your comfortable position as an American professor you can always find another job--as long as you are 12 years old and willing to work for 40 cents an hour."

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