Clinton, the WTO, and Economics 101
Jewish World Review
By Larry Elder
Read the original article.
What do the world trade organization protesters, President Clinton, and the Microsoft judge have in common?
Answer: an almost appalling ignorance of Economics 101.
The World Trade Organization, a consortium of 135 nations, met in Seattle to discuss ways to increase trade by
lowering tariffs. Or, better put, they thought they came to discuss increasing trade by reducing tariffs.
Protesters stormed the streets of Seattle, rioting and looting to the tune of $19 million in damage. Police arrested
hundreds. Thousands marched, holding up signs condemning capitalism, and blaming the industrialized world for
"exploiting" Third World labor while trashing the environment.
Then President Bill "I feel your pain 'cuz it takes a village" Clinton threw kerosene on the fire. He sided with the
WTO protesters, and urged the organization to link trade with worker rights and environmental concerns.
"What!?" said Third World countries, desperate for business from the industrialized world? How dare you impose
"just" wage levels on us, when our best weapon remains our people's willingness to work hard and long for less
money? Imposing a kind of international minimum wage, says the Third World, hurts us. It is a form of
An indignant Egyptian delegate said, hey, where do you guys get off? You never cared about us before, now all of
a sudden you're concerned about our workers. Who do you think you are?
Imagine, getting an Economics 101 lesson from a guy living in a single-party state.
Too bad we can't get this dude to mediate the government's lawsuit against Microsoft.
Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, in ruling on the government's Microsoft anti-trust lawsuit, called the company a
monopoly illegally using its power to punish competitors and thwart consumer choice.
But, but, but Microsoft always had competitors, and consumer prices are falling. And from whom do the
anti-competitive complaints come? Not from customers, but from competitors.
The judge attacked Microsoft on two inconsistent fronts. First, he alleged that Microsoft overcharged customers for
its operating system, that Microsoft could have charged $49.00, but instead charged $89.00. On the other hand, he
accused Microsoft of anti-competitive practices because it gave away its browser. Damned for charging too much,
and damned for charging nothing at all. What would Judge Judy think?
But we see daily examples of the ignorance of Economics 101.