Does the Left Hate Foreigners?
If I took liberal arguments seriously, it would be hard not to conclude that they just don’t like foreign people. They have come completely unhinged over the idea that Romney allowed some dirty foreigners to handle his money. Matt Welch described how this “Swissophobia” harms middle-class Americans, and I similarly called them out in an editorial at the Daily Caller:
In an effort to score political points, Democrats are pounding Mitt Romney over his use of offshore bank accounts. Over the weekend, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin remarked, “You either get a Swiss bank account to conceal what you’re doing, or you believe the Swiss franc is stronger than the American dollar.” DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz recently wondered aloud, “Why does an American businessman need a Swiss bank account and secretive investments like that?” Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley even called Romney’s Swiss bank account a “bet against America.” These attacks reek of populist nonsense tinged with more than a little economic xenophobia.
Harry Reid similarly called on the US Olympic committee to burn the Team USA uniforms because they were made by filthy Chinese fingers. Senate xenophones have even introduced legislation that would prohibit US athletes in future Olympics from wearing
contaminated foreign made uniforms (even though they are purchased with private dollars, and thus none of their business). So do Democrats just hate foreigners? Do they not care about the welfare of anyone who’s not a US citizen?
Probably not, since I know better than to take their arguments seriously. After all, many of the same folks condemning Romney have similar investments. In reality, they are just displaying (or preying upon) economic ignorance. They don’t understand the globalized economy, nor the benefits of trade.
Sadly, the left is not the only side guilty of this. Populists on the right, like the ignoramus Donald Trump, also sometimes prey on such ignorance and similarly distrust free trade. The central fallacy of this fear of foreign competition is the belief that economics is a zero sum game. It’s not, and because of the benefits of specialization, trade can and does make all parties more prosperous. Don Boudreaux put it better than I can:
Mr. Reid’s outburst reveals his ignorance of a foundational conclusion of economic science, namely, that people are enriched when they’re free to purchase from whomever they choose regardless of political boundaries. …[E] economists’ overwhelming, non-partisan, and research-based consensus today is, as it has been for years, that free trade (even when unilateral) is beneficial. Mr. Reid’s temper tantrum proves that he is either inexcusably dimwitted about matters on which he legislates, or interested, not in science and realism and truth, but in scoring political points by appealing to the uninformed emotions of constituents.
If people could be made more prosperous by limiting trade across political boundaries, why not prohibit interstate trade? Do the citizens of Texas lose out when they buy from Florida? Would the people of New Jersey be more wealthy if they quit trading with New York? Of course not, and anyone who suggested such would be laughed out of office. So why aren’t Reid and the other trade deniers?