The Wonders of Trade and Multiculturalism

As long-time readers will know, I recently moved from Concord, New Hampshire, to Fairfax, Virginia.  Fairfax is a suburb of DC, about 20 miles outside the city.  Being so close to a major city, Fairfax has a lot of different people and cultures living in it.  Much more than Concord.  Concord is very mono-cultural.  It’s a predominantly white, native older population.  There is an element of Nepalese and Sudanese in the city, but they are a fairly small part (of course, this is not to say anything bad about Concord.  It is a wonderful town and a place I am proud to have called my home for 5 years).  Fairfax, on the other hand, is much more diverse.  There’s Korean, Indian, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, African, and so much more.

Fairfax has given me exposure to so many different cultures and foods that I never would have experienced in a homogenous culture, and made the ability to access these things easier, too.  I’m drinking sour cherry juice bought from the Turkish market.  The roast chicken for Sunday night’s dinner is brining in the fridge with spices and peppers bought at the local Korean market.  Last Friday, my Chinese neighbors came over and cooked hot pot for us.  These are just a few examples in the last few days.

If America were to break itself off from the globe, turn isolationist the way Trump or Clinton want us to, then Americans will surely suffer.  These treats will disappear from Fairfax and countless other cities and towns in America.  Our citizens will become poorer.  the wonder of trade is that it provides access to things we couldn’t provide for ourselves (at least, not for a significant cost).  I needn’t go to Beijing for Chinese food, or Istanbul for Turkish goods.  I can go to my neighbors.  Without trade, this simply wouldn’t be possible.

2 thoughts on “The Wonders of Trade and Multiculturalism

  1. “If America were to break itself off from the globe … then Americans will surely suffer.”

    Possibly in aggregate, but there are always winners and losers with changing patterns of trade. For example, from this weeks The Economist (http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21707926-globalisations-critics-say-it-benefits-only-elite-fact-less-open-world-would-hurt):

    “None of this is to deny that globalisation has its flaws. Since the 1840s advocates of free trade have known that, though the great majority benefit, some lose out. Too little has been done to help these people. Perhaps a fifth of the 6m or so net job losses in American manufacturing between 1999 and 2011 stemmed from Chinese competition; many of those who lost jobs did not find new ones. With hindsight, politicians in Britain were too blithe about the pressures that migration from new EU member states in eastern Europe brought to bear on public services. And although there are no street protests about the speed and fickleness in the tides of short-term capital, its ebb and flow across borders have often proved damaging, not least in the euro zone’s debt-ridden countries.”

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