To Jerry Pournelle:

"But I would still rather live in a society in which people own their own houses, and sweep their own floors and tend their own lawns."

Walk this back a little: Let's say you're a doctor who could earn $400/hr doing heart surgery, and it takes you an hour to sweep and tidy your home. So, you're essentially out $400 when you choose to do this. OTOH, you could hire a legal immigrant to do it for, say, $50 including whatever taxes the government gets (failure to pay such taxes being what several initial Clinton nominees were disqualified for). For that person, that $50 would be more than they could earn at a McDonald's or Wal-Mart, so this transaction actually is a double-win: the immigrant maximizes his/her unskilled labor value and you don't have to waste an hour of your time which could be put to better use. And the value to America is greater as well, since America (in theory) gets to tax $450 of value, rather than $405.75.

How about this: if boycotting a pair of shoes from a company that does business with Thai sweatshops means that the teenage girls who would assemble those shoes would instead have to sell their bodies to sweaty German sex tourists, wouldn't you rethink your attitude? I'd support requiring human-rights protections (no prison or forced labor, no slavery or abuse, no sex discrimination, anticorruption standards) and environmental protections (adherence to an international standard, preferably a system of credits), and maybe even bring economic development under the aegis of foreign aid (and use foreign aid dollars to retrain Americans whose jobs were lost to those nations), but IMHO it smacks of paternalism to think that poor unwashed nonwhite people can't figure out an economic bargain for themselves, or can't rule themselves sufficiently to protect themselves.

BTW, when your government says they won't purchase outsourced goods and services, guess what? Your taxes are going up or your services are going down.

America was once a 'developing' country itself, until local industrialists built local industries that could beat the 'first-world' of its day. It's a pattern, nothing's ever new under the sun. Give the 'third world' (amazing at how a phrase has changed in meaning so much, from a 'progressive' and positive one to a term of ridicule) time to catch up, don't sell their citizens short. My biggest problems with 'Free Trade' relate largely to the one-sided hypocritical attitudes among the 'first-world' economies, which demand open access to the 3rd world, but engage in protectionism so they can't compete back. Smash all farm tariffs and subsidies (except for 'cultural preservation' of non-corporate agribusiness).

I would seriously recommend P.J. O'Rourke's "Eat The Rich", Dan Yergin's "Commanding Heights" and Hernando De Soto's "Mystery of Capital" be added to your reading list, to get an idea of what's happening and what issues we'll be facing (and whether we'll be the 21st century British trade empire, to be followed by the 22nd century fallen British empire)..

Mathew Hennessy  * * Visit beautiful Vergas, Minnesota.

Jerry responds: This also needs commenting, but not today. Why it is supposed I haven't read those articles/books is a bit of a mystery.

Oh, here we are, relaxing in the sunshine, smokin' a joint, and thinking of my next overnight shift. Honest!!

Economic Straits