Bonnie Blodgett (“Freaked-out elites should listen to fed-up ‘Brexit’ supporters,” July 1) made some points that are not backed up by any facts and are often simply plain wrong.
She asked: “Free trade raises all boats, true or false?” She then answered her question with an excellent argument of mercantilism, an economic theory that faded from popularity in the late 18th century. She backed up her assertion without an iota of data.
The concept that economics is a zero-sum game is ludicrous and has been disproven through years of global growth. In the past century as global trade has flourished, GDP per capita for all nations has risen from $450 in 1960 to $10,738 (data.worldbank.org). GDP has risen for every nation with data except Libya and South Sudan. In the U.S., an area that Blodgett says has been wrecked by free-trade agreements, GDP per capita has risen from $23,954 in 1990 to $54,629 in 2014. The inflation-adjusted median income has risen from $48,664 in 1984 to $53,657 in 2014; this is a 10 percent increase in disposable income.
In her second question, “Does globalism promote world peace?” Blodgett points to the Middle East as if the recent tension was caused by trade. Global wars have decreased by a massive proportion since the growth of international trade. It’s troubling to see conflict in the Middle East, but we no longer need to perform nuclear-bomb drills. That was a danger with possible deaths in the millions, not thousands. Currently the globe is going through the most peaceful time in recorded history. The one area still in open conflict, the Middle East, has been no friend to trade, preferring to view the world with Blodgett’s 17th-century ideology. As Frederic Bastiat said “When goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will.”
Nicholas Conant, Minneapolis
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If economics is a zero-sum game, I guess Blodgett would be willing to trade living in the stone age, with its hardship, disease, hunger and short life span, over living today in our globalized economy. Economics and trade is, in fact, why life is not a zero-sum game. If there are only so many caves to live in, if I want my own cave I have to eject the current occupant. Or we could build houses, which is better done by a team with individualized and special skills. Now both my neighbor and I can have a house where none existed before.
Maybe Blodgett feels that today, because we live on a “small and overpopulated planet,” that it is now a zero-sum game. If so, she provides no statistical evidence of this. In fact, there is plenty of statistical evidence showing the opposite; see any of the excellent Hans Rosling TED talks or Peter Diamandis’ book, “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think” to learn what is actually happening with the global economy.
Harold Roberts, Excelsior
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I generally agree with Blodgett, and her commentary on globalization offered some thoughts on Brexit that I hadn’t read before. But it seems to me that she is using the same kind of overheated and hyperbolic rhetoric that left voters on both sides of the issue ill-served. Case in point — her seeming assertion that it is only the “elites” who supported remaining in the E.U. and who are now asking for a do-over. From what I’ve read and heard, a much larger segment of the British electorate is now expressing doubts and a desire for more information about the potential impacts of last week’s vote. For this reader, at least, Blodgett diminished her own arguments by suggesting that it is only “leave” voters who are looking for honest answers and making her case accordingly. I find that every bit as elitist as those whose perspective on Brexit she is so quick to dismiss.
Cyndy Crist, St. Paul
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The Brexit vote, favoring the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, has been a discussion topic for more than a few days. I am not sufficiently prescient to know if, in the long term, it will be a good thing or a bad thing for the U.K., the European Union, or even the U.S. — time will tell. But I have learned enough to formulate the opinion that it probably passed because a majority of those who voted were dissatisfied with over-regulation by the central powers of the European Union, perceived as contributing to a loss of nationhood, self-governance and sovereignty.
Now we read the claim that some who voted for Brexit were ignorant of what they were voting for and are having buyers’ remorse. History tells us we are sometimes misinformed, and not always right. That is a risk when an issue is put to referendum.
But history also tells us political ignorance has beneficial results. The first, and maybe most important, example that comes to mind is a majority of Americans opposed the Revolutionary War, probably because they thought we could not win. We almost did not win, but persisted and I believe are the better for it.
So the way I see it, this is no time to panic. We need to allow the process to work itself out, offering as much diplomatic cooperation with the U.K. and the E.U. as we can.
Bob Jentges, North Mankato, Minn.
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The Brits’ vote to leave the E.U. is instructive. Many in the West have grown increasingly concerned about what they perceive to be a global business/political elite intent on reducing or eliminating national identity in favor of a superstate governed by unelected bureaucrats. Many on the left see this vote as a dangerous return to the horrors that nationalism precipitated during both world wars in the last century. Some of that concern is warranted. However, let’s also remember that the still living but rapidly diminishing generation that defeated Hitler and the Axis powers is reminding us all of the innate good that a single nation can do. Had it not been for a fiercely nationalistic champion named Winston Churchill, the world we appreciate today might never have come to pass. Dire warnings aside, the Brits have voted for a return to national sovereignty. We owe them the benefit of the doubt.
Mark H. Reed, Plymouth
U WRESTLING DRUG INVESTIGATION
Letter writer, without basis, says no-charge is racial privilege
I found a July 1 letter on the University of Minnesota wrestling team’s drug “scandal” quite interesting. Addressing prosecutors’ decisions not to pursue criminal charges, the writer states: “Would the same merciful judgment be applied to a lower-income, nonwhite group of young men?” From there she goes on to discuss “aversive racism” as the real issue with the decision to not charge any of the student-athletes.
I, too, have been following this story closely. Nowhere have I seen any discussion of the involved student-athletes’ race or economic backgrounds. The letter writer just assumes that they’re privileged white kids. No discussion of legal standards.
It is certainly possible these kids got a free pass that was undeserved. And it is always possible that an individual’s personal racism may be applied unfairly. But it is annoyingly irresponsible to cite racism for any legal decision one does not agree with when the actual race of those involved is unknown.
Richard Rivett, Chaska
We have competing examples, and one just doesn’t look good
When Andy Brehm, in his June 30 counterpoint “Higher minimum wage will hurt those at bottom,” says that “policies to jumpstart Minnesota’s economy” are lower taxes and smaller government, one has to wonder where he has been since Gov. Mark Dayton has been in office. Dayton raised taxes (mainly on the rich), and our economy has flourished. California has done the same, with the same result. On the other hand, Kansas and Louisiana did just the opposite by cutting taxes significantly (mainly on the rich), and their economies have crumbled and their credit ratings have been lowered. What am I missing here?
Ron Kannas, Minneapolis