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On Moustachioed Elitists

The papers are a'tizzy over the baby steps that the Bush administration is taking to rectify the China trade imbalance. Witness the Times:

"But rather than posturing, the White House would do better if it educated Americans about free trade’s benefits, which include cheaper clothes, televisions and cars, all of which hold down inflation."

This line is becoming extremely common-place in the post election season, when scores of House and Senate seats flipped to the fair trade column. Aside from the numerous factual missteps in the piece (Dean Baker schools the Times over at Beat the Press, where a lively conversation about what inputs really go into Boeing's planes is taking place), the elitism of this kind of a notion is really striking.

Lebon_foto_2 It recalls 19th century "crowd theory" - witness Gustave Le Bon on the French Revolution:

"the mere fact that he forms part of an organised crowd, a man descends several rungs in the ladder of civilization. Isolated, he may be a cultivated individual; in a crowd he is a barbarian - that is, a creature acting by instinct."

Except here it's worse, because the Times is suggesting that even individual workers - ahem, people that might otherwise be making those televisions and clothes, - can't understand their own self interest. Who really needs to be educated here?

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