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If Relative Wealth is So Ethically Relevant, Then Toyota Should be Applauded

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Bob Herbert frequently flaunts his Moral Superiority – his uncommon compassion for the downtrodden, his unflagging sensibility to the self-serving excuses of the greedy who profit at the expense of the oppressed, and his ethically refined awareness that the wealthy have responsibilities to help the poor.

So I was surprised to read his objection to Toyota moving part of its assembly operations from Fremont, CA, to Mexico (“Workers Crushed by Toyota,” March 16).  Surely Mr. Herbert knows that the typical Mexican worker is much poorer than is the typical California worker; surely Mr. Herbert understands that the economic opportunities open to ordinary Mexicans pale in comparison to those open to ordinary Americans (even during today’s downturn); and surely Mr. Herbert realizes that the wages of the average Mexican worker are about one-eighth those of the average American worker.

In light of these facts, it’s wildly mysterious that Mr. Herbert condemns Toyota for taking steps that provide jobs and opportunities to desperately poor Mexicans, even if doing so means taking jobs from far-wealthier Americans.

Donald J. Boudreaux