Cheapness and Trade

by Don Boudreaux on October 31, 2006

in Trade

Faultolerant also accuses a pro-free-trade commentor of believing that

cheap crap = wealth and cheap crap eradicates poverty.

Does it also get your whites whiter, make gray hair disappear and brighten your teeth? I’d also bet that, in your definition, cheap crap makes you smarter, makes your kids stand up taller and improves your love life.

Gawd, rank materialism stinks…even over the internet.

Faultolerant again misunderstands the argument.  He is, though, not alone.  Lou Dobbs and Pat Buchanan (among others) also commit this error in their reasoning.  I reprise here my answer to that allegation:

Trinkets and Trade

Don Boudreaux

A rhetoric strategy used by opponents of free trade is to describe the things that domestic consumers buy from abroad as superfluities — cheap, pathetic, contemptible indulgences that consumers selfishly gobble up from foreign producers and, in the process, damage the
domestic economy.

I first noticed this strategy in early 2001 when I heard Patrick Buchanan speak at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Buchanan criticized free traders who, in his view, are content to see the U.S. economy destroyed by policies whose only ‘benefit’ is to allow American consumers to buy self-indulgent, unnecessary gadgets “down at the mall.”

A few years later I debated Buchanan on free trade; in that debate he used the very same line.

Lou Dobbs is another protectionist who, in his book Exporting America, asserts that the only ‘benefit’ of free trade is that it helps “consumers save a few cents on trinkets and T-shirts.”

And this letter in today’s New Orleans Times-Picayune ends with this plea:

Perhaps this is a good time for all of us to slow down and reassess what is important in life, not to rush back into stores to replenish our lost inventory of plastic baubles and trinkets made in China.

I’ll not here comment upon Buchanan’s and et al.’s officious and arrogant dismissiveness of people’s consumption choices.  Nor will I challenge the dubious assertion that U.S. imports are chiefly baubles, trinkets, and T-shirts.  Indeed, I’ll here assume that this assertion is accurate.

If it were true that American imports indeed are mostly low-value, insignificant, contemptible knick-knacks, then this fact would imply that the American industries destroyed by foreign competition are those that compete with such foreign producers — that is, American industries that produce baubles, trinkets, and T-shirts.

If protectionists such as Patrick Buchanan and Lou Dobbs dismiss as worthless the things that American consumers buy from foreigners, consistency demands that these pundits also dismiss as worthless the things that American industry would be prompted to produce by higher tariffs and other protectionist measures.

These protectionists certainly should not be permitted to get away with suggesting that protectionism would create domestic industries and jobs that produce worthwhile, cutting-edge goods and services.  Instead, these protectionists should be forced to admit explicitly that the American industries they seek to reinvigorate are those that produce worthless baubles, trinkets, and T-shirts.

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{ 32 comments }

faultolerant October 31, 2006 at 10:07 pm

My, Don, aren't you in a bit of a snit tonight?

Anon October 31, 2006 at 10:41 pm

Nah, you just give him a lot to work with.

Tim Allen October 31, 2006 at 11:09 pm

Hey, It's Faultolerant! You get that Corvette fixed yet?

I live in Chicago and strangely enough we have (had) a pretty robust candy manufacturing business going on here. We have Ferra Pan, Brach, Fannie May and others. So the US decides we need to *Protect* american sugar producers. This causes the domestic cost for sugar to rise. No big deal except for the fact that it raises the cost of finished goods made with sugar. So now our domestic candy manufacturers are disadvantaged when selling their products outside of the US. So, being smart businessmen, Brach moves to Canada, taking with it maybe a thousand jobs.

Faultolerant, your viewpoint is myopic. You can protect American business domestically but when they go to export, their products will be more expensive and they will get shelled. The US is only 25% of the world market, better to have US businesses slug it out like a street fighter than to get fat and slow behind Uncle Sam's apron strings.

Besides, I drive a Toyota and you would never get me to buy American crap no matter what the price.

python October 31, 2006 at 11:13 pm

Along with that thought – that we are only importing baubles – is that we must be making the non-baubles ourselves.

To some we are losing all of our jobs to foreign competition, and to others we are only importing cheap consumer goods.

Can it be both ways?

What if it was that we were focusing our production on those things that we (the US) have a competitive advantage in, and importing what we don't?

Ray G. November 1, 2006 at 12:32 am

A young adult just starting out in life will typically do many things themselves that they would rather have someone else do.

Change the oil in the car (depending on inherent mechanical skills) mow the lawn, laundry and ironing, etc.

As this young person matures, income rises, and possibilities grow. A regular mechanic is employed even for the smallest of automotive needs. Landscapers do the yard, and everything goes to the dry cleaners, even the jeans.

So as an economy matures, reaching new heights in overall skill and relative placing in the world, we do the same to a certain extent. Mowing the lawn and washing the car are seen as a hassle to the busy young engineer or broker. Likewise, who wants to work in mass production whenever they could be making the same or more money in something much more pleasant.

Slocum November 1, 2006 at 7:42 am

"If it were true that American imports indeed are mostly low-value, insignificant, contemptible knick-knacks, then this fact would imply that the American industries destroyed by foreign competition are those that compete with such foreign producers — that is, American industries that produce baubles, trinkets, and T-shirts."

But that's not really their argument. They believe that either 1) Americans are buying cheap foreign crap instead of more expensive, more durable American goods, and/or 2) That Americans are tempted by low prices into buying cheap crap that they don't need at all, so the business is not being taken from American bauble-makers but rather from Americans making good, solid, useful things in different categories which people would've bought had they not been tempted to blow their money on crap.

So that's half the argument — that imports are damaging to American consumers and producers alike. The consumers blow their money on disposable crap they don't need, and American companies go under. The other half of the argument is a variation on the opiate of the masses — they're attempting to refute the idea that because working-class people have many things that were previously luxury goods (cell-phones, iPods, digital cameras, home-theater systems, etc) that therefore living standards have risen. But, in their view, all that stuff is, again, useless (or at least trivial) crap that is deluding people into thinking their circumstances are getting better (a variation on Robert Franks).

I think these are BS arguments, but that's my reading of them.

Adam November 1, 2006 at 8:27 am

Slocum's right: in the end, this argument breaks down into two components:

1) Foreigners are incapable of producing a quality product at a good price, but are clever and conniving;

2) My fellow Americans are tricked by these foreign hucksters into buying all kinds of garbage that they don't need or could buy better and cheaper domestically

So as I see it, there's an element of racism and another of paternalistic arrogance. Note that I'm not just talking about the people who make the argument, I'm saying the argument itself rests on racist and paternalistic assumptions. Not very pretty.

Randy November 1, 2006 at 8:32 am

Slocum,

Follow your argument to its conclusion and you will see that it implies that we should all be doing subsistance farming.

We live in a luxury economy. Our knowledge and skill have advanced such that it just doesn't take that many of us to produce the "good, solid, useful things", so the rest of us produce luxuries. This is a good thing. Our lives get ever better as the quantity of luxuries produced increases and their price declines. Look around you. How much of what you see could you live without?

Adam November 1, 2006 at 8:41 am

Randy, re-read Slocum's post. He's describing the argument, not making it. He says it's a BS argument at the end.

Randy November 1, 2006 at 8:45 am

Adam,

You're right. My apologies to Slocum.

Ammonium November 1, 2006 at 10:48 am

Cheap crap like my my family's car. I got hoodwinked into believing that my $10,000 midsize Asian car with a 100,000 mile warranty is actually decent. It's a huge conspiracy, you see. Even Blue Book is in on it. They say my car has a retail value of $8,875 even though it's almost five years old.

But hey… it's horrible for the economy. I never get it repaired. When I was growing up my mom was a regular at the local dealership. Now that my dad doesn't work for a manufacturing company, even my parents are putting auto mechanics out of work by buying foreign.

faultolerant November 1, 2006 at 11:42 am

Tim:

It wasn't a Corvette – it was an XLR. But thanks for asking. Oh, and yeah, it got fixed (Courtesy of Chubb) and how has been replaced by an SRX and an EXT.

"Besides, I drive a Toyota and you would never get me to buy American crap no matter what the price."

That's certainly your choice…you'll never see me in a Toyota. Ever. My wife had one when we married…and we ditched it a couple of months later…nasty little piece of junk it was, too. Ain't choice wonderful!

Noah Yetter November 1, 2006 at 11:56 am

"Ain't choice wonderful!"

It is. Too bad the protectionists want to limit or eliminate it.

Matt November 1, 2006 at 12:06 pm

Faultolerant-
I am a little confused…choice is good, but materialism is bad?

SRX huh? Because Cadillac isn't the luxury line of GM. Or wait is it?

I am just trying to figure out how buying cheap crap from overseas, according to your values and judgements, is materialistic. And on the other hand buying a Cadillac isn't a statement of wealth and affluence.

Oh and by the way…XLR might as well be a Corvette…it does sit on the Corvette frame and uses the Corvette engine.

Am I just being naive here?

Matt November 1, 2006 at 12:11 pm

Oh one more thing…Chubb insurance is rather affluent as well, at least their premiums would suggest such.

Hope they aren't back by the foreign owned ReInsurance…because that would be bad, right? No? Yeah? Maybe?

faultolerant November 1, 2006 at 1:27 pm

Matt,

"And on the other hand buying a Cadillac isn't a statement of wealth and affluence."

What does this statement have to do with unfair trade practices? (Which, unless I'm wrong, was the original argument) Would you have made such a remark had I said it was a Toyota Solara and not an XLR? (Or maybe if I had chosen a Lexus SC you wouldn't have felt the need to make such a smart remark. Just a thought.)

Oh, and the XLR does, indeed, sit on a Vette chassis, but uses the Northstar engine, not the Vette engine. (Sorry, just a meaningless sidebar)

"Chubb insurance is rather affluent as well"

Affluent insurance? Say what? Would you have made that statement if I'd said "State Farm" or maybe "Poor Schlub Insurance Corp"? I suspect you would have been critical no matter what my comments were/are.

Matt November 1, 2006 at 1:50 pm

My point was according to your own comments, "Gawd, rank materialism stinks…even over the internet," that you are being rather hypocritical when comes to what you choose to categorize as "materialism". Just because I can buy a lot of stuff cheaper overseas doesn't make me materialistic. But, you can't certainly come back and say that I am, because you are no better yourself by flaunting your own wealth and affluence by purchasing high end cars. It wouldn't have matter much whether it was foreign made or not.

Now you can open up a discussion of whether or not you are truly wealthy or affluent. Personally I don't care. I would argue that you probably are if you could afford a Cadillac. But by saying that Americans shouldn't be able to buy cheaper, "foreign made", vehicles or whatever trinket you want to use, is asinine. According to your own statement that would make them materialistic. All because they are able to purchase cars that they feel are of better value at a lower cost. Americans ability to choose to pay a lower price for a car would increase their own wealth and standard of living. But according to you that's not right…even though you have had the opportunity to improve your own lot and make the choice to buy a "luxury" car.

FYI..Chubb does market themselves as insurance providers to well off individuals.

rover November 1, 2006 at 1:59 pm

Imagine a "magic box". This magic box can build cars, for example, or software packages, or bread, very, very cheaply.

All you would do is tell the magic box what kind of car you wanted, the color the horsepower and shape and other characteristics and out would pop a new car just like you wanted. Would such a magic box be good for the economy? Would it increase productivity?

If you deny that it would be good for the economy then you must deny any technological advancment is good for the economy. You would have to oppose Manna from Heaven as bad.

Of course even if Manna falls from Heaven some will have trouble adjusting. Farmers would be hit hard. If there were a magic box to create cars then auto workers would be hurt. The stock holders for GM would cry. There would be new jobs. There would be a need for creative people to design cool cars but certainly there would be fewer employees in the auto industry. That is the way it is with all technological improvements.

But would you really oppose a magic box or Manna from Heaven as bad? Oppose the subsitution of accountants holding pencil and paper with computers?

Now, imagine if that magic box spoke Chinese?

How does free trade with China differ from any other productivity improvment?

Kent Gatewood November 1, 2006 at 2:11 pm

The metaphor I associate with the American trade deficit is of the Earl of Oxford living life to the fullest while selling off estate after estate. In the end he owns nothing, but it was his choice.

I could be wrong. American investors could actually be covering the deficit with profits from overseas.

Martin November 1, 2006 at 4:52 pm

Don,

You wrote,

"If protectionists such as Patrick Buchanan and Lou Dobbs dismiss as worthless the things that American consumers buy from foreigners, consistency demands that these pundits also dismiss as worthless the things that American industry would be prompted to produce by higher tariffs and other protectionist measures."

No, consistency demands no such thing. You are assuming that current tastes in consumption would remain the same under a protectionist policy – however, that is a very large assumption. For example, small children might rediscover the joys of playing with wooden toys instead of computer games.

People might actually begin to realise the true cost of the products they buy, and cultivate conservative savings habits – an old hobbyhorse of Stephen Roach's.

And who knows, in a market which has done what markets always do and adapted to the demands of a protectionist regime, American workers might just create, design and produce some wizbang little gizmo to blow Sony off its feet. Who's to say they wouldn't?

You?

Well, you try.

"These protectionists certainly should not be permitted to get away with suggesting that protectionism would create domestic industries and jobs that produce worthwhile, cutting-edge goods and services. Instead, these protectionists should be forced to admit explicitly that the American industries they seek to reinvigorate are those that produce worthless baubles, trinkets, and T-shirts."

Why can't they suggest that?

Seriously, why can't they?

What high-value, tradable jobs creating 'worthwhile, cutting-edge goods and services' have been created in the USA in the globalisation era?

Many?

Or, as Paul Craig Roberts asserts, none?

The antithesis of your suggestion is that only foreign industries and jobs create 'worthwhile, cutting-edge goods and services'. Again, you have fallen into the trap of expressing a personal political opinion.

Me, I have more faith in markets…

Slocum November 1, 2006 at 6:25 pm

"American workers might just create, design and produce some wizbang little gizmo to blow Sony off its feet. Who's to say they wouldn't?"

In case you haven't noticed (and apparently you haven't) Sony isn't doing that great in competition with products from American companies — products like the iPod, the XBox 360, and Dell and HP laptop computers. The PS3 may eventually beat out the XBox 360, but there's little hope for Sony being dominant in the MP3 player or laptop computer markets.

faultolerant November 1, 2006 at 6:26 pm

Matt,

I'd like to address your comments, one at a time:

"My point was according to your own comments, "Gawd, rank materialism stinks…even over the internet," that you are being rather hypocritical when comes to what you choose to categorize as "materialism"."

Not at all. I never even hinted that your choice of cars or trinkets is meaningful. My argument was about FAIR and FREE trade – and chinese government subsidies of specific industries with the goal of the decimation of US manufacturing. Others have asserted that this somehow must mean that all imports are bad or that a consumer must not have a choice. Nothing could be further from the truth.

My comments about materialism were specifically directed to those folks who believe that their "choice" is taken away from them when tarriffs are instituted. That's intellectually dishonest. You still have the same choices you always had – but not necessarily at the price you may desire. As has been said over and over again – that's the market for you. You don't always get the price you want – else I'd want everything free.

"Just because I can buy a lot of stuff cheaper overseas doesn't make me materialistic."

You are absolutely correct. It doesn't make you anything at all, except maybe a consumer.

"But, you can't certainly come back and say that I am, because you are no better yourself by flaunting your own wealth and affluence by purchasing high end cars."

First, no such assertion was made in the line you assert, so your argument is misdirected. Second, I don't by cars (or anything else) to impress you – or anyone else. I make my purchasing choices based on what suits me. Don't you? To assert otherwise specious.

"It wouldn't have matter much whether it was foreign made or not."

In general, you're right. However, there's a distinct and distasteful presumption in this forum that American products (and American production) is less desirable than foreign products and foreign production. I would argue that equality is the appropriate position, but that's "unpopular" in here.

"Now you can open up a discussion of whether or not you are truly wealthy or affluent."

I opened no such discussion and it's not your concern anyway. I could be fabulously wealthy, poor as a churchmouse or in debt up to my eyeballs. That's MY business.

"Personally I don't care."

Good.

"I would argue that you probably are if you could afford a Cadillac."

I CHOOSE to buy Cadillacs. Whether I can afford them is not at issue. I can't afford a Maybach….does that make me poor?

"But by saying that Americans shouldn't be able to buy cheaper, "foreign made", vehicles or whatever trinket you want to use, is asinine."

Agreed – and that wasn't what I said anyway.

"According to your own statement that would make them materialistic. All because they are able to purchase cars that they feel are of better value at a lower cost."

Wrong.

"Americans ability to choose to pay a lower price for a car would increase their own wealth and standard of living."

Yeah, so?

"But according to you that's not right…even though you have had the opportunity to improve your own lot and make the choice to buy a "luxury" car."

I never said that the choice to buy cheaper products is wrong. It's the perspective of this forum that American products are inferior and I refuse to accept that view. It's the perspective of this forum (actually the inhabitants thereof) that imported goods are superior. That's patently untrue – in both cases. If you wish to accuse me of having a pro-domestic bias at least recognize the anti-US sentiments that abound here. Just because something is made in china doesn't make it good, bad or indifferent. Just because something is made in the US it's also not good, bad or indifferent. I'm just not such a sino-indian-paki sycophant that I prefer foreign products.

"FYI..Chubb does market themselves as insurance providers to well off individuals."

Chubb insures items that other carriers won't touch. Try insuring a large collection of crystal, a rare piano, fine art or antique books with State Farm. Chubb's coverages are expensive, true, but they're comprehensive. The same can't be said for most other carriers. I was with State Farm for 20 years until a burglary when I was away on a cruise. SF's idea of "coverage" was abysmal and ineffective. Chubb, on the other hand, pulls no punches. If you insure a $50,000 piece of jewelry and it disappears, you get a check for $50k. With SF you get to go to "their jeweler" to get a "replacement". Yeah, right. So it's the coverage that's important, and it's only a certain group of people who are willing to pay the premiums necessary for that coverage. It has nothing to do with "luxury".

Tim Allen November 1, 2006 at 7:56 pm

This car thing was a nice little distraction to the original point of Don's post. I, for one would like to get back on track.

Faultolerant, If I am a free individual that earned my own money, what right does the government have to tell me what I can and can't decide to buy with my own money. Cheap crap or not? What right is it of my government to coercively adjust my purchasing behavior to fit government predilections by creating tarrifs on special items. And, Finally, what criteria do you use to decide who gets the favored treatment. Is it the sugar farmers or the candy manufacturers, it it the Steel Manufacturers or is it the Automobile manufacturers who use steel in their finished goods.

I think if you think about what you are proposing hard enough, you are basically suggesting that we tarrif based on popularity of the industry or based on an industry's ability to snuggle up to the right congressman. Why not just give free choice a shot and let crap companies with crap products bite the dust?

lowcountryjoe November 1, 2006 at 8:55 pm

Stephen Roach?

That guy is a dope. He once wrote an editorial that basically said that SARS was going to cause a global recession. Two point of interest were: 1) that his editorial came out shortly after the second round of tax cuts [as though he were hoping for a panic in the equities markets that he could later assign to the lowering of taxes] and 2) he has made past contribution to memebers of the Democratic Party only.

Ray G. November 1, 2006 at 9:34 pm

I have to concur on the dopeyness of Roach. Working at Morgan Stanley as a first year advisor, often were the mornings that I simply had to be at the office with absolutely nothing to do. Being one of the top brokerage houses they of course have an outstanding online library of economic and financial articles, papers, etc.

Much of it was junk, some of it was pretty good stuff, but Roach always looked a little silly. Really. I'd never heard of him before working there, and was left with the impression that he'd been promoted as high as he had by some other means than merit.

There were numerous no-name economists and analysts churning out some great work, and the "big guy" just put out slop.

Brad Hutchings November 1, 2006 at 11:56 pm

I have a theory… The anti-traders see problems (or play them up) and want to do "something". They want to use government to right some wrong. I say, let's find a way to let them do something small and inconsequential and then get slapped around by the WTO and have the invisible hand smack them square in the… Maybe this is something we have to do every 10 or 15 years to reinforce the value of free trade.

If we could pick one industry to let Lou Dobbs wreck, what would it be? I nominate the public schools.

Steve November 2, 2006 at 9:11 am

Fault,

You have claimed to be "not a protectionist" but in favor of "free and fair" trade. CafeHayek readers react to this because we know that "fair trade" is just a euphemism for protectionism. And you mistakenly assert that fans of this blog prefer asian goods to american goods. What we prefer, all things being equal, are cheaper goods and/or higher quality goods with little distinction for political boundaries.

We also don't believe that there is anything inherently patriotic about buying American. Are you willing to admit that American Automobiles are vastly improved today because they have had to compete with Honda, Toyota and Nissan?

Steve

St Wendeler November 2, 2006 at 11:23 am

Do Patty-Patty-Buke-Buke and the other protectionist actually think that cell phones, iPods, DVD players, LCD and Plasma TVs are all cheap and insignificant baubles?

I bet that many liberal protectionists own cell phones and listen to their iPods as they decry the imperialism and unfairness of free-trade…

what a bunch of rubes…

Adam Malone November 2, 2006 at 11:36 am

Faulterant-

While I do not agree that the "free traders" on this blog prefer Asian goods to Americans goods, let us assume for a second that we do.

Why are you better than us because you prefer American goods to Asian goods? Why are American jobs better than Asian jobs? Why should anyone say that is more important for Asians to be employed than it is for Americans to be employed?

But even more to the point, why do we hear lots of conversation about cheap Asian products, but none about cheap European products? More manufacturing for automobiles has been transferred to Eastern Europe than to Asia.

Perhaps, just perhaps, it is because in this country we are still afraid of the "yellow peril". But the odds are that of those participating in this blog, nearly every european nation is represented in our blood lines. In mine alone there are Irish, German, Dutch, Belgian, and Austrian…

A few years ago I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Roberts speak at the Dallas Federal Reserve during a conference on Free Trade. During the two speaches he gave, one of the things he spoke on was the inherant racism of our nation in regards to our outlook on trade.

During the 1980s and early 1990s the Japanese were all over US media. They were buying and investing in Real Estate all over this nation. Japanese cars were all over the roads. The Japanese even bought Rockefeller Center!!

But here is the kicker, the Japanese were not the number one investor in the US during that time. The Dutch were! But looking back at the news reports, was anyone screaming that we were all going to start wearing wooden shoes, be forced to develop a fondness for tulips, or that windmills would stop popping up all over the US countryside? The answer is simply, NO. People did not care, and would not care, that the Dutch were "taking over". So the media settled on the sexier, Number 2 to focus on. Japan.

I do not think those who oppose "Asian" imports are racist, Klan members, but their position ss at least slightly xenophobic. To say one group of people is better than another group of people is prejudicial. Saying that we have to take care of our own is more than a little biased. And saying that cheap Asian imports sell well in the US because we are all being hoodwinked implies that Asian manufacturers only make products that can be sold with deception.

Fault-

Economic Analysis is based on a set of assumptions. The first of those assumptions is that people are rational. They make decisions that suit them and serve them best.

If consumers want to "waste" their money on cheap, disposable goods from Asia or cheap disposable goods from the US, it is not up to you or me to determine which is better for them. Economists believe that people will make the best choice for themselves.

It takes a certain amount of arrogance and blind faith to assume that a select group of people are smart enough and quick enough to guide the economy (The blog is named for Dr Hayek, his books illustrate the futility of these arguments)

Swimmy November 2, 2006 at 2:14 pm

"To say one group of people is better than another group of people is prejudicial. Saying that we have to take care of our own is more than a little biased."

It's true that this view is biased, and it's interesting that its holders take any oppositional stance as an argument for preference the other way around. On the other hand, it's something I can somewhat understand; most Americans probably felt worse about 9/11 than the east-asian tsunami.

My problem is with the "we." When protectionists declare that "we" must take care of our own, they mean that all Americans should share the same values they do, and follow particular spending patterns accordingly. It seems to fluster protectionists that, though I am an American, I prize my status as a freely-associating individual more. I do not take issue with any protectionists' personal values, only their urge to force those values on me.

(I realize how cliche it is for a libertarian to accuse those he disagrees with of collectivism, but what can I say? How else can I describe the thought that I should share an opinion and according buying habits because I am part of a particular group?)

Martin November 3, 2006 at 8:32 am

Slocum,

You wrote,

"Sony isn't doing that great in competition with products from American companies — products like the iPod, the XBox 360, and Dell and HP laptop computers. "

Are these goods assembled in the USA? If so, good. If not…

Ray/Lowcountryjoe,

You are entitled to your opinions of Stepehen Roach – however, Ray, please don't think me rude if I point out that he's still the Chief Economist at Morgan Stanley and you aren't.

Adam, you raise an interesting point when you write,

"Why should anyone say that is more important for Asians to be employed than it is for Americans to be employed?"

The answer to your question is quite straightforward. The employment of Asians over Americans is a matter of the utmost immportance to any CEO who has offshored production that would otherwise be performed domestically. Those people don't just say it's more important for Asians to be employed over Americans – they make it happen.

I'm afraid I partially lost interest in your post when you mentioned that,

"A few years ago I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Roberts speak at the Dallas Federal Reserve during a conference on Free Trade. During the two speaches he gave, one of the things he spoke on was the inherant racism of our nation in regards to our outlook on trade."

'Racism' is not a word any believer in free markets should ever use, rooted as it is in cultural Marxism. If economic historians wish to make a case that racial bigotry has been a factor in trade policy then that is for them to make the case. Perhaps this is another example of economistic thinking using any and all tools at disposal, including fear of ridicule and censure, to get what it wants – cheap crap at low prices.

The Chinese insistence on disclosure of and/or transfer of intellectual property might also perhaps lead to them being accused of 'economic racism' – wait, I forgot. They are merely acting in their national interest.

And your defence of the Japanese over the Dutch might have been slightly stronger had you picked a country which does not hold the largest reserves of your country's currency.

Swimmy November 3, 2006 at 11:12 am

Martin, you'll have to excuse the accusations of racism from us free-traders, but do me a favor and google the name "faultolerant." Notice how on this board he claims that he wouldn't care if 1.3 billion Chinese people died, then accuses anyone who would of sino-worship. Notice how on other boards ( http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2006/09/more_antiimmigr.html ) he advocates the execution of Mexicans who illegally cross the border. Notice how he. . . pretty much hates people from other countries. It may be unfair to assign the same motivations to U.S. politicians throughout history, but it's not too long a leap.

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