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Wednesday, March 09, 2016

When the White Knight Triumphs

The federal government sends foreign aid, in the form of both economic and military assistance, to other countries every year. Something less than 1% of America's four trillion dollar budget is spent in this way. Broken down, it looks like this:
In fiscal year 2013, the U.S. government allocated the following amounts for aid:
Total economic and military assistance: $40.11 billion
Total military assistance: $8.03 billion
Total economic assistance: $32.08 billion
of which USAID Implemented: $17.46 billion
Recently, I have seen a lot of very liberal people, people who applaud our foreign aid contributions, get deeply upset that private corporations ship jobs overseas. US corporations paid roughly $6 trillion in wages each year from 2001 to 2011. So, ten years at $6 trillion per year: $60 trillion in wages. Meanwhile:
... over the 2001-2011 period, U.S. workers who were directly displaced by trade with China lost a collective $37 billion in wages as a result of accepting other lower paying jobs.
Notice: the feds handed over $32 billion out of $4 trillion in one year in direct payments overseas: less than 1% of each year's annual budget. Meanwhile, US corporations handed over $37 billion out of $60 trillion in jobs and wages overseas (while giving out an additional $4 to $5 billion a year in straight-up charity). That's less than 1% of American jobs sent overseas in a decade. Liberals celebrate the former and lament the latter. Why?

If the federal government can send federal money to overseas in order to provide economic assistance, why can't private companies do the same thing? That's all the corporations are doing when they ship out jobs - corporations are just making wealth transfer payments. Which I thought Democrats loved?

So, for those of you on the liberal left, explain why the dissonance. Do people in China not have a right to work for a living? Mexicans shouldn't be employed... is that it?

"Ah," I hear them say, "but those people deserve a living wage!" Ok. But what kind of living wage comes with a free check from the American government? When all the bribes are done, how much of these government-to-government transfer moneys end up in the pockets of corrupt officials? Meanwhile, how much of the corporation-to-individual transfer payments get lost that way?

At least with Nike, IBM, Apple, et. al, we are relatively sure we know how much money each individual worker walked away with. We can count very precisely how many poor people now have at least some change in their pockets. With government-to-government transfers, we don't ever really find out. For all we know, that money gets transferred straight from a government bank account to the local president's private Swiss account. Even better, with corporation-to-individual transfers, we actually get something back: an iPhone, a pair of sneakers, something. The poor get a chance to contribute, to make a difference in the world. With government transfers, we get the fleeting good will of a ruler who may be assassinated tomorrow, and the poor get nothing at all.

So, I ask again, on what grounds do liberals get upset about American jobs getting shipped overseas? What precise liberal principle is violated? Individual poor people get money, Americans get cheaper goods, accountants get paid well to tax-shelter the profits... aside from the American worker, who loses?

And even the American worker isn't really any worse off. As a result of job transfers, he gets the same cheaper goods every American non-worker gets, and, if government transfers were to replace the corporate transfers, he would have gotten shafted ten times worse on the taxes anyway. After all, the government has to get the 10-fold increase in money they give way from someone. America's middle class is richer than 95% of the rest of the world. It's not like anyone else was ever going to pay for this wealth transfer, no matter who initiated it.

So, again, why the outrage on the left when corporations move jobs overseas? Do you not like the fact that we can actually track poor people and watch them become wealthier because of their new jobs? Is that what upsets you? Or do you just not like anyone but government acting as a white knight?

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