The Devil Can Quote Scripture

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At the bottom of the Lou Dobbs Tonight page today, "Tonight's Thought" is, incredibly, a quotation from Ludwig von Mises:

The common man is the sovereign consumer whose buying or abstention from buying ultimately determines what should be produced and in what quantity and quality.

Of course, ripped from context, it's doubtless intended here as an encouragement to consumers to boycott companies that "export America." Quick, cheap free energy: Someone hook a turbine up to von Mises' grave.

Tonight's guest, incidentally, will be Marc Andreessen, the man who launched a thousand browsers, defending outshoring—might be interesting.

NEXT: When they nailed him up the fourth time I was like "No way Jesus can survive again!"

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  1. Are you saying, Julian, that “I want to buy American” is somehow a less valid exercise in consumer choice than “I saw a hot chick with one?”

  2. One could hand out free TVs in the unemployment line that only tune into Lou Dobbs and he still wouldn’t get any ratings.

    It’s time he outsourced his marketing to Bangladesh. I wonder if he knows that CNN is promoting executives that have lured international advertising to CNN.

    I suppose those ads don’t run during “Lou Dobbs Tonight”.

  3. No.

  4. Actually, “cheesemakers” are a metaphor for any maker of dairy products.

  5. Oops, wrong thread.

  6. That quote implies that a voluntary consumer boycott is the only appropriate method of fighting outsourcing. If Dobbs is willing to concede that, I think we’re in full agreement.

  7. Of course, Dobbs isn’t willing to concede that… Even if we’re talking about a consumer boycott, though, I think it would be unfortunate if the practice were diminished because consumers were under the erroneous impression that it were harmful. Imagine if anti-GMO activists convinced people to stop buying products that were in fact perfectly safe by stoking unfounded fears, with the result that companies returned to more environmentally destructive, pesticide intensive processes that needlessly drove up food prices. Nothing wrong with that strictly from the perspective of political philosophy, but still obviously a situation to regret.

  8. Outshoring should be restricted I think until the following things happen:

    -India and China completely harmonize their trade policies with the U.S. so that we are operating on the same trade playing field from a legal standpoint. It’s suicide for us to reduce our barriers without an identical reduction on their end. They’ll use that to their advantage and our producers will have to fight their regulations.

    -Our citizens are offered a program equivalent to H1-B by each country that our businesses outshore to. We need free trade in labor, not just goods and services to make it fair to the laborers that lose their jobs here. Seriously, how can any libertarian “free trade advocate” support the free trade of commidities but not demand a free trade in labor to make sure that the market is able to provide for the workers who lost out?

    We libertarians of all stripes must realize that free trade if not carried out properly is, as Marx put it, a force for communist revolution, not capitalism. We need a system that provides free trade for capitalist and worker so that both can benefit from free trade without the government. If only the rich get benefits while the workers and middle class lose their jobs right and left, you can damn well guarantee that we’ll see a rise in demand for government intervention.

    So the solution I think is to make sure that the free trade policies, within reason, leave no one behind. Implemented in true free trade fashion that should be easy. We don’t even need open borders for it, just to force other nations to extend H1-B visa like opportunities to our workers in reciprocation for our extension of those visas to their workers.

  9. My thoughts about Andreesen from a technical standpoint are in this old thread.

    More importantly, any libertarian who promotes open borders (and sneers at Lou Dobbs) should read the article Mexico lobbies for alien amnesty. By ignoring or minimizing the problem of illegal immigration, you’ve allowed the Mexican elite to worm their way into American government. Mexico is working towards becoming a co-owner of America. Sneer at Dobbs all you want, but I’d suggest that anyone who enables Mexico to get what they want is a traitor, pure and simple.

  10. Blocking free trade can only harm the citizen’s of the nation trying to prevent it (obviously, it doesn’t harm the politicians, they benefit from their increased power). See R.P. Murphy’s article Who Benefits from Free Trade and How at http://www.mises.org/fullstory.asp?control=1429.

    As for immigration, that’s a tougher issue for libertarians. In an anarcho-capitalist world, all land would be privitized, so there wouldn’t be free immigration to live anywhere. People wouldn’t be able to just decide to immigrate to my property. However, anyone I invited there would be welcomed. However, we unfortunately live in a Statist society; thus, the answer is much more complicated and debateable.

    Many exceptional libertarians have written on the subject, from opposite approaches. Walter Block takes a open-borders position, while Hans-Hermann Hoppe opposes such a position. The Journal of Libertarian Studies has several articles on immigration:

    http://www.mises.org/jlsDisplay.asp?search=immigration&action=search

  11. Mike, If trade is beneficial to both parties, even with a trade barrier in place, it should be allowed to happen. If Ford can sell cars in China, even with a huge government markup, how is that bad for anyone? It might not be the best situation, but government shutting down the deal makes no sense.

  12. “Sneer at Dobbs all you want, but I’d suggest that anyone who enables Mexico to get what they want is a traitor, pure and simple.”

    A traitor, right. And anyone who favors laws against immigration is a Nazi. End of discussion. No, what I mean to say is that this kind of antagonistic grandstanding is foolish. It’s intellectually hollow and good for rallying unthinking idealogues who want their enemies to be wrendered as evilly as possible.

  13. Oh, that’s why he calls himself “Lonewacko.”

  14. This isn’t just about immigration. This is about a foreign government which wants to lay claim to part of our population and part of our land. If you knowingly assist them in their efforts, you’re a traitor. I’ll admit that those who do it completely unknowingly are just dupes.

    During the Cold War, those Americans who helped the Soviet Union were traitors or at least dupes.

    We have laws regarding foreign influence for a reason.

  15. “our” land? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha You sound like a Marxist.

    I’ll tell you what, lonewacko. You can have my share of “our land” and you can take over my tax burden on that share too. I’ll keep “my land” and all its accompanying costs and benefits.

  16. I have no idea what Lonewacko is babbling about, but if anyone who is in favor of alien amnesty is considered a traitor in his eyes, well, call me a traitor.

    And seriously: “our population”? “our land”? On a libertarian blog? Huh?

  17. Since I seem to be blogging here – on the subject of “philosophic mumbo-jumbo,” or the humanistic aspects of economy, it is very interesting to me that the entire subject of Human Resources is predicated on the principle that human capital matters. Companies are very careful to make sure the qualities, skills, character, philosophy and ethics of potentail employees are aligned with the company’s.

    Corporations are not so careful to determine – outside the realm of marketing – whether or not their own corporate qualities, character, values, philosophy and ethics are aligned with the customer base they are trying to attract. These outshoring companies assume that cheaper and cheaper goods are the PRIMARY value that attracts and keeps customers, but this is true only to a point.

    Anybody here old enough to remember the Watts riots? They were a great example of the effects of systematically ignoring human needs, values and aspirations. At some point, people simply get fed up and revolt, sometimes self-destructively, other times lashing out at those they perceive are doing them wrong.

    Outshoring companies are asking to be allowed to withdraw the benefits of their presence within communities while maintaining the members of those communities as customers. Does that sound like a sustainable proposition? Do these companies not anticipate that at some point, their customer base is going to wake up and revolt? Is there some rational reason that those anticipating that revolt now are labelled “protectionist?”

    It amazes me, as much knee-jerk anti-corporate sentiment is voiced on these forums, that this one very legitimate gripe against corporate short-sightedness in the form of opportunity exportation breeds so much contempt here.

    One would think nobody here had kids to feed.

  18. I have a feeling Dobbs should be quoting someone like Keynes, not Mises.

  19. Jim sez: “Lonewacko – key word there is ENEMY. There is not a state of war in existence between the US and Mexico (as a matter of fact, there are several treaties and alliances), ergo they are not enemies.”

    Here’s what former MX foreign minister (and former teacher of Julian Sanchez) had to say in 11/02:

    Castaneda said Mexican officials will begin rallying unions, churches, universities and Mexican communities.

    “What’s important is that American society sees a possible migratory agreement in a positive light,” Castaneda said. “We are already giving instructions to our consulates that they begin propagating militant activities — if you will — in their communities.”

    Under Nixon or before, that would have been considered a declaration of war. Other questionable statements have been made by Zedillo and Fox to the effect that the Mexican Nation extends beyond its borders and includes the millions of Mexicans in the U.S. There have been border incursions by the Mexican military; Tancredo’s complained about it but Bush has done nothing.

    What is Bush afraid of? MX agitating its millions of citizens in this country leading to civil insurrection?

  20. Jeff,

    The only way one can efficiently go to the poorhouse is if going to the poorhouse was the desired goal. If the desired goal was to avoid the poorhouse and that’s where you wound up, you’ve got some kind of efficiency problem.

    The problem with your efficiency example of the US andChina is that it assumes only one or the other can be efficient. Obviously the company doing the outshoring is making the decision on outshoring. You are logically correct that if two nations operated under the same political assumptions that the outshoring would not be efficient and then it wouldn’t happen. There are loads of reasons why outshoring is efficient beyond any oppression in the other country; minumum wage, limited immigration, taxation, subsidies, tariffs, etc. in the U.S. are different coercion, but are still coercion.

    You definition of “minimally coerced” is different than mine. When government accoutns for 40% of GDP, I hardly call that minimal. Call that my philosophic mumbo-jumbo, just don’t coerce me from outshoring if that’s what I want. You also assume that that only customers of U.S. corporations are U.S. customers. That certainly isn’t the case.

    “Trade within the same economy, that is, domestic trade, proceeds within the same framework, so your assertion there is non sequitur.”

    This is false. I don’t give one crap about passive restraints nor exhaust emissions, yet I have no choice but to purchase an automobile with such devices. My only option is to not use an automobile. The manufacturers and I are coerced into following a framework we don’t agree with.

    “Do these companies not anticipate that at some point, their customer base is going to wake up and revolt?” The only revolt that has any lasting effect is to buy from someone else or do it yourself. Revolting against GM only makes Toyota stronger. That may or may not be a bad thing.

    As my brother once told me, “I used to think human life was valuable. But life is cheap. If you don’t think so, look at the world. There’s more human life than ever before. If the supply is high, the value is low.”

  21. Wow Lonewacko…you really are….wacko.
    I live in Tucson…barely 100 miles north of the US/Mexico border. There is quite a bit of tension here over illegal immigration and yes, there have even been scuffles with elements of the Mexican Army. The latter are isolated and are certainly not policy. (By comparison, there are probably more incidents with elements of the US Army in other nations. If a soldier moonlights as a smuggler, that doesn’t mean that he is acting under some superior policy.) In fact there are quite a few Mexican citizens living peacefully and legally all over this area. Do you *really* believe that Mexico is at this moment creating some kind of calculated strategy to overthrow the US Government and subvert our National character as Americans?

  22. “Wow Lonewacko…you really are….wacko”

    Good argument!

    “Do you *really* believe that Mexico is at this moment creating some kind of calculated strategy to overthrow the US Government and subvert our National character as Americans?”

    Another good argument. But, let’s do some reading, and see what conclusion we come to.

    “By populating the United States with millions of Hispanics who are tied economically, politically and linguistically to Mexico, we are able to exert enormous influence and pressure on U.S. policy and its dealings with Mexico.” link

    “I want the third generation, the seventh generation, I want them all to think ?Mexico first.?” link

    “The ‘Matricula Consular’ Advances Mexico’s Immigration Agenda” link

    “Fox government wants permanent right for immigrants to divide their loyalties” link

    “The Open-Borders Conspiracy” link

    And, of course, the article referenced in my first comment from yesterday’s WashTimes.

    Please read, think, then post any comments.

  23. I never have understood the arguments for protectionism. Even if every other country in the world subsidized their manufacturing or agricultural sectors (or any other sector for that matter) there is no reason for the U.S. to do so. Essentially foreign nations would be subsidizing our consumption of their exports, making the goods cheaper for U.S. consumers than domestic consumers in foreign nations.

    There are many reasons why corporations go oversees: less regulation, low taxes, lower wage rates, but another big reason (that Kevin Carson rightly often points out) is our government’s continued subsidization of the export of U.S. capital overseas.

  24. matt,

    You’re right. And it’s even better when everybody is coerced execept me.

  25. Matt:

    Try John K. Galbraith …

  26. I have caught Dobb’s show three times in the past couple of weeks, seeing his smiling face on the tv’s at the gym. And in all three cases, he was really working over this “offshoring” thing. And its painfully obvious on which side of this “debate” he falls on. And I put debate in quotes because there should be no debate at all. The individuals who run corporations should be free to run them as they see fit, as long as they don’t steal from or defraud anyone. Thats little consolation to anyone who has lost his job to outsourcing, but life isn’t always fair.

  27. The problem with every economist, economic commentator, or ANYONE who tends to see things solely from an economic point of view when commenting on foreign trade, labor, jobs, etc., is the assumption that commerce can operate outside a legal framework, or at least a set of rules. Economics NEVER occurs in a vacuum.

    There is always a sheaf of assumptions, customs or laws guiding any transaction whether it be between two individuals or an entire bloc of nations. When all parties to an agreement are not operating under the same set of assumptions or rules, the trade is neither free, nor fair.

    Free trade is a misnomer when only one of the parties is free, or when one is much, much freer than the other. In other words, how can there be free trade with a command (coerced) economy?

    To be specific, labor costs in China are much much lower because their political system has set it up that way. It may also be legitimate to say our labor is more expensive because OUR political system has set it up that way, but the point is each country comes to the table with a different sheaf of assumptions. How, then, can trade between them, whether it be in goods, services or jobs, ever be considered FREE trade, much less fair trade?

    Where is the virtue in continuing to subsidize a Communist government wearing a false-face of capitalism by trading with them as if they were operating under the same assumptions we are? Why allow chartered American companies to enjoy the rights and priviledges of operating as American companies while sending the bulk of its production and support facilities overseas? And, why not advocate that Americans be more choosy in their selection of vendors, and take the wellbeing of their fellow citizens into account when making purchasing decisions? Is that not also a hallmark of a “free” economy?

  28. Lonewacko – key word there is ENEMY. There is not a state of war in existence between the US and Mexico (as a matter of fact, there are several treaties and alliances), ergo they are not enemies. Thanks for playing.

    You do have that Anne Coulter impression down though.

  29. “The common man is the sovereign consumer whose buying or abstention from buying ultimately determines what should be produced and in what quantity and quality.”

    Tell that to the FCC.

  30. Where is John Forbes Kerry’s plan meantioned here?

  31. Jeff, Chinese wages are certainly lower than in the US, but so also is their productivity. While teh extent to which they are coercive in their polity is relevant, whether or not it should enter into a particulat buying or other economic decision is properly ONLY between the parties involved. Anyone who wants to know the facts on life in China is a few clicks away from it. Those who wish to educate their compatriots are free to do so. The simple fact that such entreaties have fallen flat in the face of $1.50 the dozen tube socks is what is so vexatious to the protectionists. Make your plea and let the chips fall. We know where protectionism leads and it ain’t Paradise.

  32. The reasons employers move overseas are many and varied, but they all have to do with the bottom line. Taxes and labor costs are cited most often. Economists including Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan maintain that outsourcing is ultimately good for the economy as it provides both efficiency and lower production costs for products which may then be sold to American consumers at lower cost.

    But, this assumes many things. First, it assumes that price and cost are the same thing. Economists know they are not, yet speak as if they were. A good or service is often priced far above its cost to produce and bring to market. This is called a profit margin. But the cost to American workers of the cheaper foreign goods we consume so readily and the trend toward outsourcing and exporting U.S. production rises far above mere production costs. The toll on families, on actual human lives, the reduction in personal income and opportunity for lower middle class and low-wage workers is a cost that doesn’t figure into corporate balance sheets, or government trade projections, but should.

    The choices economists give us – free trade or isolationism/protectionism, is a false one. Our economy is currently freer than that of virtually any of our trade partners. In exporting manufacturing, service and support jobs to China, India and other economies suffering under repressive political systems, U.S. taxpayers are essentially subsidizing the industrialization of these backward nations, and, incidentally, in the case of China, supporting a political system which at its heart has changed but little since the days of Mao and Cho En-Lai, even while presenting a more and more free-market face to the world. Ask a Tibetan how much more politically liberal the Chinese government has become since it has been forced to allow more free enterprise.

    How can free trade be carried on in coerced markets? Why do we continue to support those coerced markets, seeking to expand exports to and VASTLY expand imports from nations such as China even while we ship manufacturing jobs overseas by the thousands? Why should production cost and consumer prices be the only costs figured into import/export projections and scenarios? Why are U.S. chartered companies allowed, even encouraged, to ship opportunity overseas faster than product?

    None of this makes any sense to anyone who puts economics in context, and doesn’t treat it as an isolated force, free from the political and governmental framework that governs all other aspects of human life.

  33. answers for jeff:

    How can free trade be carried on in coerced markets? I don’t know, but America already is a coerced market and trade goes on anyway.

    Why do we continue to support those coerced markets, seeking to expand exports to and VASTLY expand imports from nations such as China even while we ship manufacturing jobs overseas by the thousands? Because its more efficient.

    Why should production cost and consumer prices be the only costs figured into import/export projections and scenarios? Because these are the only costs that are real, all the other ones are philosophical mumbo-jumbo.

    Why are U.S. chartered companies allowed, even encouraged, to ship opportunity overseas faster than product? This question contains a falsehood and therefore can’t be answered. Then again, if you want to eliminate coerced markets, the first step is elimination of chartering.

  34. ic – Okay, can you expand on that a bit? For instance, isn’t there ALWAYS a measure of coercion in human affairs? The question is one of degree. Certainly our market is taxed & regulated, but much less so than, say, our European counterparts. If the political assumptions between two parties are not even close to equivalent, how can free trade take place. Trade within the same economy, that is, domestic trade, proceeds within the same framework, so your assertion there is non sequitur.

    As to efficiency – In what way is mere efficiency always of value? One can efficiently take himself, his family and his country to the poorhouse through wrongheaded, yet efficient, decisions and actions.

    And, is that efficiency an economic reality, or is it the result of politics on one end of the transaction or the other, or both? For instance, if the labor markets of China and the U.S. operated under the same political assumptions, it is unlikely that it would be as efficient for a U.S. corporation to manufacture in China and ship product home to sell, incurring increased shipping costs and increased supply chain complications along the way. My point is that that efficiency is an illusion based on extra-economic forces. It isn’t protectionism to take those political realities into account. At worst it is simply hardnosed bargaining in our own best interests.

  35. Additionally, it is my right as a participant in a minimally coerced economy to choose whether or not to patronize a company that ships opportunity overseas, yet expects me to buy its products here at home. Value is relative, and I DO take those philosophical mumbo-jumbo costs into account. Actually, so do you, or you wouldn’t be, as I assume you are, an economic Libertarian. Philosophic mumbo-jumbo is clearly VERY important to you, as Libertarianism is every bit as theoretic and philosophical as Keynesianism.

    If you want a truly uncoerced economy, than Lou Dobbs has a perfect right to point out and list those companies exporting opportunity overseas, and advocate that people withold their patronage. There is nothing in any economic theory that states consumers have to stand still for any chicanery a company chooses to pull just to get a lower price. They are free to, but the rest of us are free to comment on it, and point out the intrinsic errors thereof.

  36. Here’s the U.S. Code on treason:

    Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States

    Ask a lawyer or at least someone with the ability to read and understand English to explain that and my previous comments to you.

    As for “our population”, this is the United States, and we have people living here within our physical borders. Those people are our population. Our land is the land within our physical borders.

    When you have an actual argument to make, let me know.

  37. Help! Save me from the Mexican Mininster of Defense! Aaaaaaaaa!

    I just wanted to see how that looked typed out. Please, go about your business.

  38. ic –

    “There are loads of reasons why outshoring is efficient beyond any oppression in the other country; minumum wage, limited immigration, taxation, subsidies, tariffs, etc. in the U.S. are different coercion, but are still coercion.”

    I think you just proved my main points, that. A. These so-called “efficiencies” are not economic, they are political, and therefore, changeable at the whim of the powers that be in any country. Only a very short-sighted CEO would jump ship on this kind of basis. You don’t see Japanese companies outshoring to very many countries BESIDES The United States for this very reason – theirs has traditionally been a long-term, profit-oriented approach to business. U.S. corporations are too fixated on stock prices as opposed to actual production profit and creation of long-term value.

    As to human life being cheap – as disgruntled as you seem to be, I understand why you seem to feel that way toward yourself and your own life. But recognize it for what it is – a feeling, a sentiment, and one many people simply do not share.

    Value is always a relative proposition.

  39. Good joke Joe!

    Don’t worry, everything’s going to be just A-OK. No countries have ever used demographics to try to control or conquer part or all of another country. All those things about “history” are just words in a book.

    Here, have a lolly.

  40. It’s not a…Mexican lolly, is it? shudder

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