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Irrational Politics: What's Happening to Free Trade?

Recorded on July 2, 2007

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

Presidential Trade Promotion Authority expires at midnight on Saturday, June 30, a demise of free trade that is occurring more with a whimper than a bang.  A handful of concluded bilateral deals are being amended. And the Doha round of WTO negotiations is in shambles once again.  Why is the idea of free trade so distrusted by voters in spite of a consensus among academic economists? 

Dr. Bryan Caplan argues that voter irrationality is part of democracy and that it is marked by four big biases which distinguish beliefs of ordinary people from the beliefs of economists.  Rational consumers often make irrational voters, and politicians often foment that irrationality.  In light of the collapse of Trade Promotion Authority and the suspension of the Doha-round trade talks, voter irrationality seems to be a key feature of American foreign policy.  Join us as Dr. Caplan addresses the current dilemma for trade freedom and Philip Levy, trade expert and recent Administration economist, offers commentary.