CRB: Sending jobs overseas

This morning we continue our preview of the new issue of the Claremont Review of Books. Thanks to our friends at the Claremont Institute, I read the new issue in galley to select three pieces to be submitted for the consideration of Power Line readers. As always, wanting to do right by the magazine and by our readers, I had a hard time choosing. You, however, can do your own choosing at the heavily subsidized price of $19.95 a year by clicking on the link above and accessing subscription services. At that price the CRB affords the most cost-effective political education available in the United States of America. Subscribe by clicking on Subscription Services at the link and get immediate online access thrown in for free.

In the 2009 book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West, Weekly Standard senior editor Christopher Caldwell peered into Europe’s dire future. It is an eloquent and prescient book that makes no concessions to the imperatives of political correctness on the subject of the book’s subtitle.

Caldwell’s work on Europe has given him insight into the forces supporting the rise of Donald Trump. In the last issue of the CRB, for example, Caldwell took a still timely look at “Sanctimony cities.” In the essay Caldwell sought to capture the world of the urban haute bourgeoisie, i.e., the world of the anti-Trumpers. Caldwell observed along the way: “Trump understood something no Republican had understood in decades. The partisan division in the United States was less about ideology than about sociology. Ideology was there, of course, but it arose from the sociology: you look at life differently when you write the rules than when you have to submit to them.”

Caldwell extends his analysis in the current issue of the CRB with the review of a new book examining globalization, another of the issues in the matrix supporting Trump. In “Sending Jobs Overseas,” Caldwell seeks to understand the the changing view of globalization from a “miracle” to a losing situation.

Globalization showered certain people with blessings they had not expected, in ways that could not be explained by logic. How could Nike be the world’s most successful shoemaker when it owned scarcely any shoe factories? Globalization’s cheerleaders, from Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, made arguments from classical economics: by buying manufactured products from people overseas who made them cheaper than we did, the United States could get rich concentrating on product design, marketing, and other lucrative services.

That turned out to be a mostly inaccurate description of how globalization would work in the developed world, as mainstream politicians everywhere are now discovering. Recent elections and the rise of nationalist candidates both at home and abroad clearly underscore this dramatic shift. Caldwell writes of the book under review:

Richard Baldwin, an economist at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, gives us an idea why, over the past generation, globalization’s benefits have been so hard to explain and its damage so hard to diagnose. It is a great book: elegant, subtle, simple enough for a child to understand, and free of any political or polemical agenda. Baldwin’s argument is that information and communications technology ha[ve] changed trade in its very essence. We have had “globalization,” in the sense of far-flung trade, for centuries now. The United States has been putting all its diplomatic and military muscle behind it since Congress passed the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934. But around 1990, the cost of sharing information at a distance fell dramatically.

Caldwell sorts out the consequences in a review that has an obvious bearing on the current political scene.

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