There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, about a Chinese scholar who was asked by a student, "What is the longterm impact of the French Revolution?" His answer: "It's too early to tell, it's simply too early to tell."
Those borrowed words would be my response to the question of the impact of the globalization of trade on America and the American worker. It is too early to tell; and the answer is bound to be a mixture of positives and negatives rather than a simple, single answer. I believe we can say that economic history has shown that international trade generally has made the world wealthier, but that begs the larger, more complete question. Who benefits from the new global trade order? Who pays? Who sets the rules? What will be the effect of current global trading patterns a decade or two from now? How do we distribute the fruits of global trade in a fair and just manner?
Many experts don't even consider these issues open to debate. Paul Krugman, a usually thoughtful economist and columnist, dismisses critics of global trade as "entirely ignorant men" who are "startlingly crude and ill-informed." Paul Krugman, meet Alan Tonelson, author of The Race to the Bottom: Why a Worldwide Worker Surplus and Uncontrolled Free Trade Are Sinking American Living Standards.
In his articulate, passionate, yet thoughtful book, Tonelson argues that globalization has...