Could somebody please get Barack Obama to shut up about “outsourcing” until some undergraduate aide has explained to him what the word means? As it stands, the president is showing himself an ignorant rube on the subject, and that is to nobody’s advantage.
The Obama campaign, as you probably know, has been running ads denouncing Mitt Romney’s role at Bain Capital, in which Romney made various business deals that had the effect of making a whole lot of money for Bain’s customers while also allowing a lot of dirty foreigners to eat, and God knows the world would be better off if a billion-some Chinese were hungry and desperate, that being an obvious recipe for global stability.
Because the Obama campaign knows that one of its most important constituencies is economically illiterate yokels — a demographic to which the president himself apparently belongs — it is on the airwaves claiming “Romney’s never stood up to China — all he’s ever done is send them our jobs.’’ (Whose?) The Obama campaign cites a Washington Post story on the subject, and the Romney campaign has noted that the folks over at WaPo did not distinguish between outsourcing and offshoring (and, indeed, the story is not a very smart one — do read it and see). Obama responded thus: “Yesterday, his advisers tried to clear this up by telling us that there was a difference between ‘outsourcing’ and ‘offshoring.’ Seriously. You can’t make that up.” And indeed you wouldn’t have to make it up, because it is a real thing: different words with different meanings. (Seriously, can we get this guy a library card?)
What’s interesting about this controversy to me is the naked xenophobia of the Left on display alongside the amusing ignorance. Liberals love a good talk about the value of learning from other cultures and other peoples, so long as those foreigners don’t mind staying poor. If they want to sell goods and services, they are the enemy. Asians are allowed to be airy gurus and quaint villagers, but the day one of them wants to set up a factory, Democrats have a fit. Mohandas Gandhi good, Ratan Tata evil. You want collective, coordinated global cooperation to solve the world’s most pressing problems? That doesn’t look like a working-group meeting at the United Nations; it looks like what Bain does. You want a display of backward, ignorant chauvinism? Put Obama in front of a union hall.
There’s a famous and probably apocryphal story about Milton Friedman being taken on a tour of a giant Chinese infrastructure project of some kind, in which the workers were using old-fashioned shovels and picks and wheelbarrows. Curious, Friedman asked his guide why they weren’t using bulldozers and other heavy machinery. The answer was: “We care about creating jobs for our people.” To which Friedman responded: “Then why not use spoons?” I wonder if Barack Obama could answer Milton Friedman’s question.
Here’s what I don’t get: If a business sends jobs to other countries that’s bad, but if people from other countries come here to work illegally that’s good? Progressives support immigration and oppose NAFTA. Shouldn’t it be one or the other?
Progressives are pro-union and pro-immigration. Historically, immigrants have been used to break strikes and used as a threat to keep wages low. Which begs the question – how will Obama’s quasi-amnesty policy fly with blue-collar voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania?