Free Trade Agreements That Guarantee Monopolies?

from the that's-not-free-trade dept

Free trade is a good thing. Your basic economics should have taught you that. Division of labor, comparative advantage, supply and demand -- they all combine to allow for better specialization, more productivity and greater output. In general, free markets are a good goal. While it's nice to see governments (especially the US) pushing for free trade agreements, the reality is that these agreements are very often not about free trade at all. There's so much lobbying that the "free trade" isn't just watered down, sometimes it's a complete farce. Witness the New Yorker's coverage of how the US is using free trade agreements around the world to force US-style intellectual property rules on the rest of the world -- often at tremendous harm to those countries. It's doubly ironic when you realize that intellectual property rules are the exact opposite of free markets. They're government-backed monopolies that benefit the monopolists, generally at the expense of everyone else. The New Yorker piece does a good job highlighting Josh Lerner's research that strengthening patent laws has no impact on increased innovation, and there's almost no connection whatsoever between copyright law and creative output. In other words, the exact reason for the laws (to put in place incentives for innovation and more creative content) aren't supported at all by history. Yet, now, we're forcing those same policies on countries where it seems clear to hurt them. The only issue I have with the New Yorker piece is author James Surowiecki's claim halfway through, that "Intellectual-property rules are clearly necessary to spur innovation." The rest of his own article shows how that's simply not true at all. In fact, even going beyond Lerner's research, there's plenty of other support for the idea that intellectual property laws don't actually help grow the markets they're supposed to grow, and in fact that they can do great harm. So, why isn't anyone else noting the irony that US "free trade" agreements include the exact opposite of free trade in a way that clearly harms the countries that agree to these policies?

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  1. identicon
    Wyatt, 10 May 2007 @ 8:09am

    Hummm

    I'm really curious about dorphus.. more so then the article. How can you possibly believe some of the things you say? Every comment I've read from you has been complete crap. Short sited, close minded and completely off base. Wait, I know, you were you raised by Dick Cheney. You were his prodigy and have completely lost all common sense and ability to think in a logical way. Please, if you can, try to open your mind a little and actually think about things for once. Free trade is a great ideal if it could ever be done without interference from lobbyists and crappy politicians. C'mon man, open your shads and put down your gun. It’s not hard to see things for what they are or could be and not what someone told you to think.

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