Free Trade

The Truth About Globalization

It has made the world dramatically richer and safer.


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There was once a bipartisan agreement that free trade was good for both America and the world. After the financial crisis of 2008, Occupy Wall Street, the election of Donald Trump, and the resurgence of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, that consensus fractured.

Free trade and globalization have given Americans more spending power, created better-paying jobs, lifted millions out of poverty, and made the country less vulnerable to supply-chain shocks and other crises. Although the total number of Americans working in the manufacturing sector has been declining, that's a global phenomenon driven by automation. U.S. manufacturing output has more than doubled since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"Even as its justifications and the global economy change, the current skepticism toward free trade and globalization remains misguided," wrote Scott Lincicome, the Cato Institute's director of general economics and Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, in a recent article for Reason titled, "Globalization Is Alive, Well, and Changing."

"Free trade certainly isn't painless, but its disruptions do not outweigh its tremendous economic benefits for both the country and the world."

Photo Credits: ROGER L. WOLLENBERG/UPI/Newscom; WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom; RICHARD B. LEVINE/Newscom; RICHARD B. LEVINE/Newscom; Jeff Malet Photography/Newscom; CNP/AdMedia/SIPA/Newscom; Rick Friedman/Polaris/Newscom; KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI/Newscom; LONG WEI/FEATURECHINA/Newscom; CHU BAORUI/FEATURECHINA/Newscom; John J. Kim/TNS/Newscom; Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group/Newscom; Stephanie Tacy/SIPA USA/Newscom; Bill Clark/Newscom; Michael Nagle / Xinhua News Agency/Newscom; joan slatkin/Joan Slatkin/UCG/Universal Images Group/Newscom; Cliff Owen—CNP/Newscom; Cliff Owen / CNP / SplashNews/Newscom; Carlos Tischler/Eyepix/Newscom; ZHUO ZW/FEATURECHINA/Newscom; Realtime Images/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Illustration: Lex Villena; Gaoqing, 7xpert

Music Credits: "Youth" by ANBR via Artlist; "Soleil" by Stanley Gurvich via Artlist; "Reflections" by Stanley Gurvich via Artlist; "Free Radicals" by Stanley Gurvich via Artlist; "Other Scenario" by Stanley Gurvich via Artlist; "Binary Love" by Stanley Gurvich via Artlist

Written and narrated by Natalie Dowzicky; edited by Danielle Thompson.