On the other hand, we do have a situation in which most of the profits from Free Trade fall to employers, but many of the costs fall on the general public.With a followup in his letter column here.
Some of those costs are not purely economic although they certainly have economic repercussions. Social philosophers have for more than a century warned us of the dangers of wide spread anomie – that is, citizens with no ties to their community. No patriotism, no civic pride, and no reason other than fear of punishment to obey the laws. Telling half the population that it is unemployable – in effect useless – and can hope for nothing better than make work and the dole is not likely to make for a healthy republic.
Of course it has not been demonstrated that half the population really is useless. Note that Ricardo's theory assumed a fair amount of freedom: labor would be free to seek employment and entrepreneurs would be free to offer employment. New businesses could start and succeed or go broke without excessive regulation. A businessman need understand only his own business; he need not be a tax expert and cognizent of myriad employment regulations. Alas, those conditions don't prevail.Chaos Manor Reviews Column 320 Part 3, March 21, 2007