Would we truly be racist if we demanded “Made in the USA”?

(8 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Amazingly, in the past several months I’ve been called a racist 3 times, more than anytime in my life!  The first time was when the Jeremiah Wright thing broke out and I defended the guy, I was called bigoted against whites.  Then, just the other I was called first "pro-Black" then "racist against whites" because I favored Barack Obama over that walking museum piece from Arizona.  Now, today, the conservative economic blog site, Carpe Diem, is labeling people like me racist for demanding things be made in this country!

Considering that I’m a white guy, I found the first two accusations humours, to say the least.  But I take issue with Carp Diem’s assertions that because I would prefer my products be made at least in North America, that I some how am a bigot.  Of course, Mark J. Perry (the site’s author) was coy in not saying it himself but quoting Ayn Rand to University of Rochester Economics Professor, Steven E. Landsburg instead.


"Both major parties are infested with protectionists who would discriminate on the basis of national origin no less virulently than David Duke or any other racist would discriminate on the basis of skin color."


– Prof. Landsburg


Giving preference to American-made products over German or Japanese products is the same injustice as giving preference to products made by whites over those made by blacks. Economic nationalism, like racism, means judging men and their products by the group from which they come, not by merit.

~Ayn Rand Institute

We’re all familiar with who Ayn Rand is and the institute with her name on it.  But what about Professor Landsburg?  Well he was on Fox News a while ago, ironically enough Carp Diem has that clip. He was an John Gibson, the infamous Fox News anchor who recently lost one of his shows, talking about this.  Of course, the site’s author decided to the side of the professor, while amazingly enough the anchor of the normally pro-free trade network, went against him.

I frankly have a problem with the whole notion of economic patriotism = racism.  Yeah, in an abstract way, you could make that argument.  But then if you could also say I favor Iranians over Indians because I go to the 7-11 by my house versus the EZ Mart a half  a mile away.  At the very least, I can be accused of being a nationalist, but I tend to think I’m more of a regionalist.  The color of one’s skin, or their ethnicity was never a factor or played importance, I grew up believing you don’t judge a book by it’s cover.  But wanting to have stuff made here, using good union labor is not the same damn thing!

Now, if one were to go to those so-called victims of our racist thinking, primarily Asia, what do you think they are thinking on such a topic if asked?  Do you think the average worker in Kyoto or Shanghai holds an altruistic viewpoint when it comes to jobs?  I remember, back in the early 80s, and my father’s best friend, who was an engineer for Mister Coffee telling us how on his trip to Japan, it was common to see on television Japanese auto workers taking a sledgehammer or crowbar to an American-made product.  That throughout the media, the newspapers, radio, even the NHK, that commentary would be pepper with "the superiority of Japanese-made goods" along with the continued promotion of high trade barriers and the usage of domestic-made goods.  He always came back home feeling ill, it should be noted, my dad’s late best friend was a Nisei.

China’s the big manufacturing place now.  Patriotism, especially since the Olympics, has been running more commonplace than ever.  Are you going to tell me, that 400-thousand plus slave-waged folks working at the Foxconn assembly plants building your Wiis and iPods aren’t saying the same thing to themselves?  No folks, this isn’t racism at all, it’s demanding economic security!

What we have here, is another shill for the free-traders.  I don’t know what this professor is getting out of this.  Perhaps he’s trying to make it with the Cato crowd.  There are many like him, who believe that its ok to ship jobs to lower waged nation, because its part of some grand idea of such august intent.  A friend of mind once said that these folks are like a corrupt version of the hippies, peace and harmony through a balance sheet.

Carpe Diem, though should be ashamed to make such accusations.  And seriously, if you’re gonna say it, then at least say it and don’t hide behind others’ quotes!  You think it’s racist, don’t just add that title, add some meat to your claims!  Well, what else can I say?  Folks like us are for restoring the middle class and giving economic security, while it seems (and I am willing to admit if I’m wrong) that jokers like the one mentioned here want simply want free trade so they can save a buck at Wal-mart.  The again, I’m not surprised, its one of the sites Larry Kudlow often quotes and uses on the air.

Actually, if one thought about it, what these fools propose is more economic suicide.  Indeed, straight from the same site, Carp Diem shoots themselves in the foot.  Several days ago, he was going on about how that there was no "inflation threat," particularly the wage kind.  Now he put up a chart using the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on % change for previous year on in monthly average hourly earnings.  Please take a look at this chart, and tell me what you see. 


I will grant you, that the rate of growth was going higher and higher prior to ’83, indicating wage inflation as a component of the larger inflationary period.  But overall, earnings for workers were north of 5%, well above even the the longer-term trend official bullshit government inflation number.  Suddenly though, as we cross into 1985, overall wage growth collapses. Hourly-waged employees went from a growth of 7-8% a year to 2 and a half to 4% a year; hell, growth dipped even as low as 1.5%!  Now if you want to take the government’s official inflation rate, which is currently 6.2% and subtract that from the wage growth.  That negative number, while unscientific, in a way is showing what employees are losing.  You know what, better yet, take a look at a chart below. 

This is the official CPI/inflation chart from the government (courtesy of Freelunch.com).  Take the period from when Carp Diem starts and compare it to the same period on the second chart.  You will see that Americans have either been net losers to inflation, or just barely matching the official malarkey rate!  So what was happening from the start of that wage collapse to now?  Free trade deals, from Reagan on to the present, have been made or attempted. 

Globalization, in which wage arbitrage has been the real name of the game to get ahead against one’s competitors.  Now, ok, I grant you I haven’t posted any empirical evidence to prove that assertion of free-trade and the wage collapse. But what the hell else with such force against a workforce’s wages (outside of outright deflation) could have such an impact?  Any basic economics class will give you the laws of supply and demand and its impact on price.  When you introduce a massive amount of labor supply from the formally-labeled "Third World," and it meets with a set amount of demand from owners of manufacturing companies, you can bet it will hit the price of labor!   So are we racist?  More like realists!


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  1. Well, never really figured wanting folks to have good paying jobs was racist.  Frankly, I think it cheapens the meaning and distracts it from those who should really be labeled racist.  Anyways, thanks for reading and letting me get this off my chest.  I hope you all are having a good week.  Take care now.

  2. …I think you’re wrong; really wrong.  Not for the hoary icky reasons that you were accused for, or because I think globalization as currently practiced is fair or right, but because we are all in this together.  All of us, across borders and nationalities.  I think it makes total sense to ask what conditions applied to the production of something; what were the lives of those workers worth, and how are they compensated, and what kind of government was in place?  But I think the sort of thinking that stops at borders will eventually kill us all, no joke.

    Mileage varies.

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