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Friday Letters: Free trade is about enriching all of society

Former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg News

In his recent screed voicing his “thoughts” about the deleterious effects of free trade, Robert Reich displayed a remarkable lack of understanding of economics and pandered to uneducated populist emotions. In doing so, ironically he aped some of Trump’s similar blather.

Free trade is not, as Reich would contend, about some people’s wages. It is about enriching all of society by permitting those with comparative competitive advantages to provide the desired goods and services on the best terms (price, quality, reliability, speed etc), which will improve living conditions for all.

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Reich displays, much as Trump, further economic ignorance by saying that the prime, and he intimates perhaps sole, beneficiaries of free trade are “big corporations and Wall Street.” To be sure, some corporations, big and small, may benefit, but only to the extent that they are able to compete. Similarly, “Wall Street” (which includes many individuals who own stock directly or indirectly) may benefit as the whole economy, if not every sub-segment thereof, is improved.

Big corporations and Wall Street (whatever that may mean) are not the villains responsible for the ills Reich mentions anymore than the Populist William Jennings Bryan’s “cross of gold” was responsible for the ills of his time. Restraints on trade were, and are, the single largest contributor to the lessening of economic well-being. Unless, of course, it is the type of economic ignorance which Reich, and Trump, display.

William P. Gottschalk, Lake Forest

Hold hearings

I write this letter with tears of shame in I my heart to beg the Senate Republicans to hold confirmation hearings and vote on Judge Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination. Please rise above hateful partisan politics. Please do not sink to the level of Donald Trump, a true bully. Please be the adults in the Republican Party and please shake the man’s hand!

Don’t embarrass and shame our beloved country by acting like spoiled petulant children who will not even play the game unless they are guaranteed, not only to win, but also to bloody their opponents in the process. Remember that the example you set today will very likely set the tone for the future.

Elizabeth B. Marren, Beverly

Wise proposal

The proposal by two respected aldermen to make Chicago a no-kill city for dogs and cats should be implemented. Chicago’s animal shelters should be replete with compassionate and dedicated administrators who recognize the wondrous importance of canines and felines as companion animals. Cats and dogs are invaluable family members for countless Chicago and Cook County residents. If the City Council and the mayor agree and support this kind and benevolent endeavor, the nation will recognize that Chicago is still a city that has leaders who have the morals and decency to be voices for the voiceless.

Brien Comerford, Glenview