Whither the Free-Trade Left?


Glenn Reynolds writes:

[L]iberals are supposed to support the idea of taking money from the rich, and giving it to the poor redistributing wealth to those most in need. And by the standards of most of the world, all Americans ? even those who work in factories, or at Wal-Mart ? are rich. (Which is why, of course, people from lots of other countries are so anxious to come here and work at Wal-Mart.) An American who loses a job, even if he or she stays unemployed and winds up on welfare, is still rich by global standards. So you might think that the proper liberal attitude toward job exports would be, "Bring 'em on!" But it?s not.

Maybe that's true, but if it's true, I think it's less true than it used to be. My evidence is entirely anecdotal, but as someone who used to write the occasional free-trade screed for a lefty website, I find it far more common these days to encounter free-traders who identify themselves with the Left, or who see the slashing of rich-world tariffs and subsidies as one of the shortest routes for fulfilling their youthfully lefty ideals.