Are we irrationally hardwired

All of the econ blogs have been talking about this article by Paul Rubin. He discusses the evolutionary  philosophy behind the lack of free trade support. He ascribes it to an assumption of a zero-sum game combined with distrust of outsiders, but I think he’s missing the boat. Most of the opponents of free trade feel that we are being cheated in our deals and that we should only sign these deals if we get something in return. That is a hard-wired response. We are trained evolutionarilly to reject something offered as a free lunch as a trap. We are conditioned to believe that to get something you must give something up. Therefore people hear that we are removing tariffs and want to know what we are getting in return. When people hear that we are getting nothing they see it as giving something up for nothing and instinctively reject it. People easily understand the benefits of trade, but not one way trade.

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3 Responses to Are we irrationally hardwired

  1. talia says:

    Hi Mike-
    I kind of lost your email so I’m going to ruin the professional atmosphere of your blog by posting over personal messages.
    Anyway-you told me that you were going to upload all the pictures and videos from my camera on your computer to somewhere-so the question is where in the world-wide-web have you placed them!?!
    So, do it before you come here-ok?
    And your blog is brilliant, insightful, and slightly offensive. (Isn’t that the look you’re going for?)
    See you soon!
    -Talia

  2. Shmuli says:

    Hey Talia.

    How are you doing?

  3. joe says:

    what happened to the posting mikey. i eagerly await your next post

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