The Corner

Owning Jobs

I remain befuddled by John’s claim that “Americans at large are entitled to American jobs at large.” This is the case for economic protectionism and the Bush Administration steel tariffs — to keep American steel jobs in America — and I don’t buy it. The converse proposition, in John’s words, “that jobs in the USA ought to be open to competitive bidding by all the people of the world,” is the logic of free trade. If an employer chooses to hire someone else instead of me because that individual is willing to work for a lower wage, nothing has been “stolen” from me. This is true even if the other individual is not an American citizen — and is true whether they are hired in the U.S. or elsewhere. John may be correct that such economic views are politically unpopular — there is certainly evidence that free trade is unpopular, at least with certain segments of the electorate — but that does not make them wrong.

Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.