Free trade vs. protectionism

Regarding the editorial "Japan's Trade Charges," June 12: It is good to see that the Monitor supports efforts to move toward freer trade. Free trade is vital to the economic health of the United States, and the entire world. When the US erects trade barriers - whether they are tariffs, quotas, or "voluntary" export restrictions that other countries are coerced into accepting - we can only hurt ourselves. Protectionists point to the jobs "saved" in a particular industry when it is protected by trade barr iers. They never mention that economic research has consistently shown that we lose a minimum of 3 to 4 jobs in other industries for each job saved.

In 1930 Congress enacted the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, touching off a worldwide trade war. While protectionist policies were not the sole cause of the Great Depression, they contributed greatly to its length and severity.

Now, corporate socialists like Lee Iacocca and would-be president Ross Perot want to lead us back down the destructive path of protectionism. Mark Wylie, Los Angeles

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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