Rational Optimism versus locavorism

Over at Cafe Hayek, George Mason University professor Don Boudreaux posted a letter he wrote to the NY Times.

David Sassoon of Harlemville, NY, is a locovore because, in his words, he’s “interested in restoring community through the act of eating, rather than swallowing the cold logic of global economics” (Letters, Aug. 28).

So Boudreaux points out that Mr. Sassoon, everyone in fact, might consider getting everything locally. Off the top of my head, in just the C category are clothing, computers, carnations, cars, cat litter, cabinets, CDs, and cabbage patch dolls. Everything would be made from materials within a day’s walk of where they live. A good idea?  Of course not, Can you imagine how long it would take to build a computer if it came from materials gathered and refined within a 100-mile radius and then assembled by a local builder? It’s absurd. And, while a locally grown fruit might be tasty, we like more variety in our diet.

A beautiful consequence of the so-called “cold logic of global economics” it that it knits people from around the world into a kind of community – into a worldwide web of peaceful and productive mutual dependence.  Commerce over large geographic areas undermines the nativism and insularity – and poverty – that result when people live in local communities with little or no contact with outsiders.

That is the brilliance of trade. It opens minds when it opens markets. If that logic’s cold, give me more, please.


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