James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Xenophobia and Politics

I read Pat Buchanan's moronic rebuttal before I read Steven E. Landsburg's piece. I suppose you could read both to make up your mind. Landsburg writes:

When General Motors hires an American in Detroit or a Mexican in Ciudad Juarez, the rest of us are not footing the bill. And that makes it none of our business. Nor should we want it to be.

I hold this truth to be self-evident: It is just plain ugly to care more about total strangers in Detroit than about total strangers in Juarez. Of course we care most about the people closest to us-our families more than our friends and our friends more than our acquaintances. But once you start talking about total strangers, they all ought to be on pretty much the same footing. You could say you care more about white strangers than black strangers because you've got more in common with whites. Does that make it okay to punish firms for hiring blacks?

It's also worth mentioning that laws intended to "protect" Americans raise the price of goods that Americans buy. I won't dwell on this because it's already obvious to anyone with a dollop of economic literacy. Besides, it's tangential to my main point, which is this: Even if Kerry-style (or Nader-style or Buchanan-style) protectionism could improve Americans' well-being at the expense of foreigners, it would still be wrong.

http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2005/0328/046.html

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