Alan Tonelson | Thursday, 31 March 2016 09:54 (EST)
All knowledgeable students of economics know that a big reason for rejecting most critiques of U.S. trade policy is their allegedly heavy reliance (explicitly or not) on the “lump of labor fallacy.”
As explained by economics Nobel-ist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, the fallacy holds that “there is a fixed amount of work to be done in the world, so any increase in the amount each worker can produce reduces the number of available jobs.” And it’s especially pernicious, Krugman explained, because it “feeds protectionism. If the public no longer believes that the economy can create new jobs, it will demand that we protect old jobs from new competitors in China and elsewhere.”
So it was interesting, to say the least, to see a leading economist this week make clear that this fallacy isn’t so fallacious, and that its existence strengthens the case for U.S. policies that depart from the free trade norm. Even more interesting: His name is Paul Krugman.