Location, Location, Location
Daniel Hamermesh at Freakonomics writes about the silliness of “local” production and employment restrictions. Like the “locavore” consumption enthusiasts, the proponents of these policies think that if you just confine yourself to a small geographic area, scarcity and other facts of life don’t apply to you. Hamermesh points out that when places thus tie their hands, they forgo gains from trade and specialization. Then he turns prophetic:
Even worse, if it were to spread so that national governments helped to “protect” local companies and employees even more than they now do, we would be headed rapidly down the protectionist road that helped produce the Great Depression. I hope this truly stupid idea is localized and does not spread.
Let’s accentuate the positive: Nowadays, almost nobody is truly local. Look at this locavore blog, which chronicles the local food movement in all its obsessive-compulsive glory — by posting lists of stuff people ate, where it came from, etc. This is from the “About This Site” description:
Spanning the United States, the group is committed to challenging themselves to eat mainly local food during a specific period of time during the year.
First, if eating local is good, why do they do it only during a specific period of time? is that because during other periods of time, no food is grown in their areas and they would starve? It gives new meaning to the term “fair-weather fan.”
Second, it says the bloggers come from all over the United States. That doesn’t sound very local to me. I think the locavores intuitively understand that it’s counterproductive to restrict the exchange of information. Now, if only they could apply that concept to the food supply. …