Transport Costs and Borders


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Free Trade

Sweatshops Exposed is an amateur video that is not unlike dozens of others on youtube. It notes that "Some try to defend them saying the workers are better off with the job than without." How does it refute this argument? Who is Jeffrey Sachs and why does he think the poor countries would be better off with more rather than fewer sweatshops? How do they explain his position and refute it? (For the standard economic view of sweatshops, see the links on

Comparative Advantage

Economists say that trade is not a zero-sum game, but a positive-sum game. Poker, on the other hand, is zero-sum, at least if we only consider the money winnings. Why should that concern the college students in the video below?

There are also a number of videos on youtube explaining comparative advantage. For example see here, here, and here.

Barriers to Trade

Technological change creates winners and losers as this comedy clip suggests. Should we be sorry for the chipper? Should we try to protect him from change? (A note on the history--bronze technology did not come from hunter gatherers, but rather agrarian cultures. Farming increased specialization and exchange, and prompted new technological advances, such as the smelting of bronze.)

For half a century after achieving independence, India tried to control its economy using government permits. The resulting red tape, called the "Permit Raj," is briefly explained in this sample from a full-length PBS documentary. How did people deal with the situation? What was the cost of trying to be self-sufficient? Why did car manufacturing do so much better in Japan than in India?

These links were checked on January 2, 2010.
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Copyright Robert Schenk