The story has been floating around for a few weeks now, but it's finally starting to get some play: the easy movement of jobs between countries is beneficial to America by any measure, because we import more jobs than we export. Even if that weren't the case we'd still be better off due to lower prices and greater competition, but considering the high rate of growth in the number of Americans working for local affiliates of foreign companies, there can't be any doubt.

While reliable figures aren't available for the last two years, the Commerce Department estimated on March 18 that the number of Americans employed by U.S. affiliates of majority non-U.S. companies grew by 4.7 million from 1997 through 2001. In the same period, the number of non-Americans working at affiliates of majority-U.S. companies abroad rose by 2.8 million. ...

The 57-year-old Bush holds up the creation of U.S. jobs by companies from abroad as an example of the benefits of free trade. In a speech in Cleveland on March 10, he said 10 percent of Honda's worldwide workforce lives in Ohio. Honda has two vehicle-assembly plants in two Ohio towns.

"About 16,000 Ohioans work for Honda, with good, high-paying jobs, and that's not counting the people who work at 165 different Ohio companies that supply Honda with parts and material," Bush said. "When politicians in Washington attack trade for political reasons, they don't mention these workers, or the 6.4 million other Americans who draw their paychecks from foreign companies."

Protectionism is rarely the answer. The only circumstances in which is is justified are if there are non-economic considerations, such as national security. I wouldn't want to outsource NSA crypographers, for example.

President Bush will do well to emphasize the reality of the situation; American workers are smart enough to understand it.

(HT: IP.)

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