Alex Tabarrok interview from TED

TED talks, as most my readers here know, are great. Most of the content on that site is on video form, but they have interesting written content as well, like this text transcript of an interview with economist Alex Tabarrok (of Marginal Revolution fame). As on Marginal Revolution, the discussion covers many fascinating topics, from the rise of China and India to the tv show The Wire to the value of police.

I utterly reject the view that the Third World is doomed to poverty and starvation. Not only is this wrong, I think this attitude verges on the immoral, like thinking that slavery is an unalterable facet of the human condition so why bother doing anything about it? Moreover, thinking of this kind -- I call it the Lebensraum point of view -- leads to war and destruction. The Lebensraum point of view, however, is rejected by evidence from the second half of the twentieth century. Peace and free trade are the routes to wealth -- not a grab for "limited" resources.


Cordell Hull, U.S. Secretary of State under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is said to have remarked, "When goods don't cross borders, armies will." Free trade unites the world and reduces the threats from other nations. It doesn't eliminate it, but we have much less to fear from a rich, prosperous China than we do from a poor, starving China.