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November 23, 2008

We are all richer with Free Trade

"Do you know how to make a sandwich?" asked Mr. Lajeaneusse, an economics teacher at UCC high school.
Sure, I thought - two slices of bread, ham, cheese and maybe a piece of tomato.
"What would be the price of that sandwich?"
Well, depending on where you are buying all the parts making up that sandwich, but probably several dollars.
Mr Lajeaneusse then asked, "Now, what about a pencil. Can you make a pencil?"
"So why is the cost of a pencil so much lower than that of a sandwich?"
Adam Smith explained this concept of specialization back a few centuries when he used the example of the cost to an individual to make a pin. There are economic clubs trying to do just that but Mr Lajeanesse makes the point just as well.
The tasty sandwich example illustrates why specialization of skills pays off in bringing down the time and price for making something. He also showed how trade is of benefit to us all. Instead of our neighbours, today we trade around the world and there is talk about trade barriers going up again.
Here's a video clip of Milton Friedman Mr.Lajeanesse shared, explaining why free trade is a great thing for the world. I particularly like it when Milton Freidman talks about world peace. Now if only we could get beauty queens to discuss how world peace and free trade work together!
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