Cultural Values and Free Trade
A small follow-up to Vikram’s post on Congress and the TPP.
Krugman and Larry Summers believe that we are seeing the end of the Davos Democrat. The Davos Democrat is socially liberal but mainly centrist, business-friendly, and globally oriented. Summers believes that the last barriers to free trade are not protectionist but rooted in “deep cultural values” and uses the Japanese love for rice farming as an example. Summers calls for the idea that a “reflexive presumption in favor of free trade should not be used to justify further agreements.” This raises some interesting questions:
1. Why shouldn’t people value deeply held cultural values over free trade or no tarrifs and quotas?
2. Is Matt Yglesias correct when he calls free trade an important totem for “slightly-economics-literate people”? Is it merely a stand-in for “enlightened and serious”?