The USA is famous for innovation, and we have now done the impossible: we have invented the formerly mythical free lunch. Think about it: we have 42 million people who eat for free. Is that not a miracle?
It is, in fact, a libertarian free-trade utopia as described by Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University. In this fabulous vision of the future, we throw our borders wide open, allow mercantilist powers to eradicate all of our industries and jobs, and then just sell them pieces of paper (dollars and treasury bonds) forever:
“We’d be on easy street having a few Americans printing up dollars whilst the rest of the world sends us cars, computers, coffee and other goods in exchange for them.”
Williams argues that our trade deficit doesn’t matter because it is automatically balanced by an equal amount of capital flows. If we buy $250 billion worth of goods from China this year, and they buy nothing from us but treasury bonds, the books balance.
But does that really make sense? Imagine that all of our jobs are offshored and all of our remaining factories are shuttered. Each day, a fleet of Chinese freighters arrives at the Port of Los Angeles and unloads everything we need: clothes, prefabricated housing, food, medicine, gasoline, etc. In return, we load some freshly-printed treasuries onto one of the ships, along with some new dollars to pay the interest on the previously issued treasuries.
It’s a utopia, right? But what happens next, Dr. Williams?
Relieved of the need to work, Americans forget how to make things, grow food, and drill for natural gas. Then one day, the Chinese freighters open their doors, and instead of cell phones and iPads, tanks roll out. And we can’t resist because we have nothing but old, shuttered factories and a population of un-skilled, un-knowledgeable nincompoops.
Of course, the Chinese would be justified in invading. After all, those dollars and bonds we shipped to them were actually more than just pieces of paper. They were, in fact, promissory notes. And if we lose the productive capacity to make good on our promises, then what happens? Bankruptcy, liquidation, and a transfer of assets to creditors.
Williams is actually arguing that if a foreign nation offers to put us on welfare, we should accept the invitation.
Aren’t libertarians supposed to be against welfare?
I became a libertarian in 1980 and remained one for over 25 years – until I figured out what was really happening: libertarian free-trade ideology was being used by the multinational sweatshop cartel to crush the American Middle Class. I am now revolted by libertarian economists who are really just apologists for offshoring.
Is it possible that libertarian economists are not familiar with the theory of global labor arbitrage? Maybe, but I doubt it.
There are huge profits being made in offshoring jobs, factories, and entire industries to low-wage nations like China, Mexico, and India. Libertarian economists are just PR flacks for this historic evisceration of the USA.
42 million people on food stamps is not a utopia. And it isn’t entirely attributable to an out-of-control welfare state. The runaway expansion of the rolls (see chart here) is a direct consequence of libertarian-endorsed labor arbitrage.
If you say to me that 42,000 factories can be exported with no harm done to the nation, I say that you are a charlatan, at best.