Dear USA Today: Current Crisis Not Worse than Great Depression

13 January 2010

Editor, USA Today

Dear Editor:

Helen Ashworth writes that "Our current economic crisis is worse than the Great Depression" (Letters, Jan. 13). She's wrong. By no measure - rate of unemployment; decline in GDP; length of the downturn; extent of human suffering - is Ms. Ashworth's claim even remotely true.

Ms. Ashworth is mistaken also when she blames our current troubles on globalization.  Contrary to her assertion that freer trade destroys jobs in America, the very period that she praises - the decades immediately following the Great Depression - saw steady liberalization of trade. The ever-increasing freedom to trade that began in the immediate aftermath of WWII coincided with substantial growth in both the number of jobs and in the real value of worker compensation in the U.S.

If freer trade and globalization cause widespread hardship in America, our current economic troubles would have begun, not in 2007, but in 1945.


Donald J. Boudreaux

Don Boudreaux is the Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University and a Business & Media Institute adviser.

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