March/April 2010

Free Trade’s Tireless Crusader

If there is any area of policy that ought to be settled, it’s the economic benefits from unrestricted free trade. Adam Smith made the case convincingly the same year America declared its independence, but almost two and a half centuries later there are still those who would use protectionism to shackle the many for the benefit of the few.

Free trade remains a message every bit as worth fighting for today as it was in 1776. Daniel Griswold’s book Mad about Trade: Why Main Street America Should Embrace Globalization has been both a hit for the Cato Institute and an important salvo in this fight. First reviewed in the November/ December 2009 issue of Cato Policy Report, Mad about Trade presents a clear-eyed, optimistic, and accessible argument for the virtues of open and unencumbered trade. Publishers Weekly praised the book for explaining “the complicated mechanisms of world trade with brisk, easy-to-read prose.”

The story of this significant book did not end with its publication, however. In the months since its release, Griswold, the Cato Institute’s director of trade policy studies, visited sites along the West Coast, as well as the Carolinas, New England, San Francisco, San Diego, Florida, and Chicago, speaking to student groups, think tank scholars, and concerned citizens. And even when he couldn’t appear in person, Griswold spread the book’s message through 10 radio appearances, from Bob Harden’s Morning Edition on WGUF in Naples, Florida, to the David Boze Show on KTTH in Seattle, Washington, to the Mike McConnell Show on WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio. Among all this, Griswold wrote frequent Mad about Trade–related editorials in newspapers, magazines, and journals.

“Americans are bombarded everyday with misinformation about free trade from populists on the left and the right. Mad about Trade challenges the critics on their own turf,” says Griswold. “The book tour has allowed me to explain how free trade affirms basic American values of compassion and fairness, competition and freedom, progress and peace.”