Dean Baker: Neil Irwin Is Far Too Generous to Economists: They Only Care About Efficiency When the Policy Redistributes Income UpwardNeil Irwin raises the question of whether economists have been too single-minded in pushing efficiency, while ignoring issues of distribution. This is way way too generous to economists. In fact, economists have been totally happy to ignore efficiency considerations when the inefficiencies redistribute income upward. This situation pops up all the time.
As I frequently point out in comments here and elsewhere, we protect doctors, dentists and other highly paid professionals from competition with their lower paid counterparts in the developing world or even other wealthy countries. We have maintained these protections even while our trade negotiators did everything they could to make steel workers and textile workers compete against their low-paid counterparts in Mexico, China, and other developing countries.