Food is Now More Affordable Than Ever, Thanks in Part to International Trade
Charles Campbell, retired senior VP of Gulf Oil, cooks up quite "a stew of errors, misunderstandings, and non sequiturs" about free trade, according to Don Boudreaux, in this Baltimore Sun editorial "Free Trade Has Failed the U.S."
"In 1970, U.S. technology was superior to that of every other nation in the world; we manufactured nearly everything we consumed; we were essentially self-sufficient in energy; we exported food; and we imported little of consequence. Over the last 40 years, we have hollowed out our industrial base and .... we now import more food than we export."
In fact, we typically export more food than we import in most years, and have run trade surpluses for food in 2007, 2008 and 2009. And we have always imported billions of dollars of food each year (think bananas, coffee), see chart above. Partly as a result of increasing international trade, food is more affordable than any time in U.S. history, when measured as a share of disposable income (see chart). Free trade has not failed the U.S., it has contributed to a rising standard of living for all Americans, and the increasing affordability of food is just a small part of the story.