Once again we’re arranging ourselves into our usual trenches.
Are you a free trader or a protectionist? And so we get the usual rehearsal of lessons from our recent experience as Ford closes. Fair enough. If you have to consume the lesson in a single slogan I guess “don’t assist industries unless you’ve got a well thought out reason to do so” isn’t a bad take out. However this graph is at least worth keeping in mind. Assistance is very low now – even with the various subsidies we provide. Is this a justification for the subsidies? No. But it should be telling us that the debate is much less important than it has been. And if we want to have productive discussion about what to do we need to be thinking with a little more subtlety and curiosity about our subject matter.
I tried to reflect this – and also address the public’s desire to see governments “do something” in this interview which a number of people have liked. There are plenty of things to turn our attention to as far as collective endeavour goes, so it would be good to try to articulate what those things are lest, abhorring a vacuum public hankerings to do something turn to other things.