Here’s a very nice interaction between weblog and conventional media. Daniel Drezner has an intelligent op-ed piece in today’s New York Times uncovering the misconceptions around outsourcing and offshoring. He uses his weblog to provide the source footnotes that the Times style won’t allow. He also uses his weblog slightly mischieviously to blow his own trumpet about getting some op-ed real estate.
Brad DeLong waxes indignant and lyrical about the kneejerk response of Slate writer Seth Stevenson to the making of inexpensive coir matting in a village in Kerala, south India. Stevenson reckons we should stop buying India-made coir mats because villagers are being exploited. DeLong explains why this is woefully wrong:
|What are the people who used to sit in their huts and make coir mats doing instead [if we close the market for their mats]? We don’t know. But we do know one thing: Whatever they are doing, they would rather be making coir mats. Those who took up the option of making coir mats did so because it seemed to them to be the best available option. And we — by trying to preserve our moral purity by not becoming polluted by physical contact with the products of Third World labor — have stolen that option from them|
|Think analytically, people. Think hard about opportunity cost–what people’s options are–and how to expand those options, not narrow them. Think not about the first-round effects of actions, but their implications for equilibrium. Only thus do you have a hope of attaining Enlightenment.|