Having re-read E.D. Kain’s original post on economic nationalism, I’m struck by the disconnect between his (laudable) concern for preserving US jobs and the real political implications of a protectionist revival. Viewed from a certain perspective, we’re actually quite lucky that the business lobby has internalized the logic of free trade. This is particularly surprising because on other issues – tax credits, subsidies etc. – Big Business is generally enthusiastic about securing as many special favors as possible. Now it may be possible to recreate some benign form of American autarky – I’m not a trade economist, so I really don’t know – but our political process probably precludes this from happening. A more plausible legislative outcome is something along the lines of our awful farm bill, which is not a program I’d care to replicate.