02/03/2012 02:56 pm ET | Updated Apr 04, 2012

As Jobs Go Global, U.S. Workers Pay

It's no secret the pot is boiling a bit again with respect to America's trade-induced economic problems. Or, more properly, free-trade induced, as neither I nor any other protectionist I know is against trade per se. Or, to be even more precise, "free"-trade induced, because free trade isn't really free on the part of foreign nations, which block American exports by a thousand devices overt and covert.

The New York Times has an o-kay story on the problem here: As Jobs Go Global, U.S. Workers Pay.

Glad the NYT is running this, and glad Reuters wrote it.

But it's mild, mild stuff. In terms of my book Free Trade Doesn't Work, they've admitted to Chapter 5's dubious assumptions #3 (domestic factor mobility) and #4: (inequality). No mention of the other 7. I summarized these issues in an article here.

So they're really trying to preserve the conventional "free trade is, all things considered, best" model, by showing how observed problems do not refute that model but can be explained within it. As I noted in my book, none of my "7 deadly sins" are exotic stuff; they're all actually well-cataloged within conventional economics, if one knows where to look.

Expect more of this: the conventional wisdom is designed for defense in depth. The establishment's strategy is to make the smallest possible concession in the face of every new fact.

I wrote about the MIT "China Syndrome" report the article mentions when it came out, here:

The Third Way think tank has a new report out on dealing with China, "China's Trade Barrier Playbook: Why America Needs a New Game Plan," here.

Third Way styles itself, more or less, as a post-partisan "fresh thinking" good-government group. I'm not a huge fan, as they tend towards repackaging establishment-pleasing solutions in "new" garb, but they're sometimes worth reading.

Their report grasps the scale and nastiness of China's trade barriers against the U.S. But I can't take seriously any would-be trade reformer who supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which I debunked here.

Also, the report has some tediously naive stuff about how China supposedly doesn't know what's best for it (and how we can teach them!), to wit:

The United States should redouble its efforts to convince
China's government, business and thought leaders that playing by the rules is
ultimately in China's own interest. America might note, for example, that:

• Increasing the value of the Yuan will help China control serious inflation,
increase domestic consumption and benefit China's consumers.

• Protecting IP is critical if China is to develop its own new ideas and build a
real innovation-based economy.

• Fair, international technical standards will help Chinese companies sell
innovative products in foreign markets.

• Assuring fairness for U.S. investors will win China allies as it seeks to
increase its own investment in the United States.

Like China's going to take trade pointers from the side that's currently losing!