[Letters] A hard-to-understand compensationYou report that, since 2007, the Korean government has allocated more than 22 trillion won ($19.25 billion) “to help farmers whose businesses might suffer due to the influx of cheaper produce from the U.S. under the recently approved free trade agreement between the two nations.” (“Farmers Already Getting FTA Budget,” Nov. 26, 2011)
For decades, Korean farmers have benefited from artificial, government-created barriers to competition which forced consumers to pay higher prices for lower quality products. How can farmers now claim to be entitled to compensation simply because they have lost an unearned privilege?
Moreover, there is nothing unique about the effects of international trade on a particular sector of the economy, as market activity of all sorts benefits some while squeezing others. This is true whether the source of dynamism is ever-shifting consumer preferences, technological advance or, yes, international trade. Must we also subsidize certain farmers if consumers began to eat, say, more potatoes and less rice?
Aaron McKenzie, research fellow at the Center for Free Enterprise in Seoul