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The classical economists thought they had the issue settled. Free trade, they said, enables a nation to prosper; protection only benefits special interests. Yet, over a century later, the debate still rages. The great American economist, Henry George, wrote a book on the subject in 1886, Protection or Free Trade, which has been called the greatest defense of free trade ever written -- and was even read in its entirety into the US Congressional Record. Yet a pivotal chapter in George's book is called "The Inadequacy of the Free Trade Argument"!
In the twenty-first century, the debate over international trade is more passionate than ever. "Globalization" is seen by many as a "death force" that advances the interests of transnational corporations while it impoverishes workers, destroys cultures and trashes our very land itself. Does a nation ever benefit from free trade? When should it take steps to protect its industries and jobs? Can the natural human urge to trade ever be made to work for everyone's benefit?
This course uses fundamental economic analysis to shed light on the vexing questions of international trade. It builds on the analysis explored in our basic course, Understanding Economics. Each enrolled student works with an individual instructor, and all the readings and lessons are right here on this site.