Sunday, April 26, 2009

Some Questions for the Protectionists: Are Zoos with Foreign Animals Unpatriotic & Un-American?

Foreign import?
Don Boudreaux opens his latest column saying that "Protectionism is a disease that feeds on fear and ignorance," and then proceeds to ask the protectionists five tough questions.

Here's are five additional questions for the protectionists:

1. Is there any material difference between American zoos spending millions or billions of dollars annually to acquire "foreign" animals from South America, Africa and Asia for their exhibits and American consumers spending billions of dollars annually to acquire foreign products from overseas?

2. If patronizing a foreign car company is considered to be an unpatriotic, un-American act, wouldn't visiting a zoo to patronize foreign, imported animals be equally unpatriotic and un-American?

3. Given a choice between visiting the Detroit Zoo with all of its foreign, imported animals, and visiting Detroit Zoo's Belle Island Nature Zoo that focuses on Michigan wildlife, flora and fauna, wouldn't it be more patriotic to visit Belle Island, and more unpatriotic to visit the Detroit Zoo's main facility?

4. Protectionists might argue that you cannot buy an American elephant, so the only choice for a zoo is to purchase one from Africa or India. But isn't it also true that American consumers cannot buy what they might consider to be uniquely British, Japanese or German engineering features in an American car? Just like you cannot purchase an American elephant, you cannot purchase an American Jaguar, Lexus or BWM can you?

5. Isn't naming professional sports teams after foreign animals (Tigers, Lions) somewhat unpatriotic? If a team is named for an animal, wouldn't it really be better to name teams after American animals instead? If you support "Buy American," shouldn't you also support a "Name American" practice for professional sports teams?


At 4/26/2009 3:54 PM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

This post is silly. In response to Mr. Boudreaux's column I don't think manufacturing output figures are comparable. A lot of manufacturing activity in the U.S. is assembly and quite a bit of what is being assembled is foreign made. Huge output figrues are from from Boeing but the newer the model plane the more work that is outsourced. The outsourced assembly products are substantially from protected markets.

Mr. Boudreaux should begin to attack the trade barriers that exist. He must be well aware of reports such as the National Trade Estimate Report on trade barriers to U.S. products. Also he should be slamming the counterfeiting of U.S. intellectual property. It is thought that 80% of software used in China is pirated. I am not a protectionist and am for free trade but what we have now is regressing expecially with China.

At 4/26/2009 5:41 PM, Anonymous Moneybagzz said...

People tend to associate foreign brands (VW, Toyota) with American manufacturing (and increasingly service) workers getting a pink slip, while someone in 3rd world hell hole does the same work for far less while under the gun.

Free trade is demonized simply because the vast majority of workers likely associate the 'free market' with their bosses' ability to freely hire workers in other countries to do their jobs @ lower wages.
'Free Trade' is irrelevant to the worker w/ a spouse, children, a mortgage, loans, credit card debt and little savings. It is simply a one-way ticket to joblessness.

I don't think that closing off the USA to foreign output is an answer - in fact, I don't think that I have one.

Part of the problem is the managerial class who view workers as impediments to bigger bonuses.

Management day in and day out constantly tell themselves that the CEO is underpaid because the workers are overpaid. Sadly it is the way of the world.

Politicians are no better, as they view any dollar in a tax payer's pocket as an impediment to building a Bridge to Nowhere.

Lincoln said it best > Adversity is no test of a man; give him power and that will be the test.

At 4/26/2009 8:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most zoo animals are rescued or come from other zoos! So that statement of aquring animals from the wild is a tad outdated.
Be sure the zoo is AZA Accredited, or is reputable. If it is a road side zoo, or a pseudo-sanctuary, then yes they can come from anywhere, including from the wild.

At 4/27/2009 12:24 AM, Blogger B-Daddy said...

While I generally agree with your argument, the Honda Accord I purchased two years ago was made in Ohio by American workers, so the lines get really blurry on this.

At 4/27/2009 12:53 AM, Blogger Milton Recht said...

Suppose a worker has $100 to spend on things and he/she uses the funds to buy five, $5 imported items and ten, $7.50 American-made items.

Suppose someone now says be good to your fellow workers and country and buy only American made items.

Our Good Samaritan decides to buy only American made items, but $100 can only buy 13 items for $97.50.

What two items should Americans give up in the name of helping America's economy? Is America better off by not letting its citizens buy all the things they want, need and can afford?

Wouldn't you call the politicians and workers greedy and selfish for demanding other Americans divert some of their hard-earned dollars so politicians can be reelected with union funds and so a few factory workers can be paid a high wage at the expense of many other Americans' enjoyment?

Should Americans subsidize non-competitive industries, politicians' constituencies and union reelection contributions?

At 4/27/2009 7:03 AM, Blogger Bruce Hall said...

Jack McHugh and I had an email exchange regarding this post:

"...let them eat cake."

What is occurring is not the same as past economic "revolutions." It used to be that the economic question was "what will we produce?" Now the question is "who will produce?"

Mark Perry asks in his blog, Carpe Diem:

"Here's are five additional questions for the protectionists:
[Your questions]"

It has been rightly pointed out that trade is done by individuals, not governments. Therefore, government interference in trade is unacceptable. I would also point out that individuals optimize their transactions even if it means they sub-optimize the very system in which they participate. Trade allows some very dislocating extremes to develop if unchecked systemically. Hence, unsustainable trade deficits can occur. One might argue that the economics of the situation will ultimately be self-correcting... and that is correct. But the self-correction might not result in a situation that was better than the situation pre-dating the dislocating extreme.

If the strong manufacturing environment that led to outsourcing labor because it made manufacturing less expensive ultimately leads to the collapse of manufacturing because the laborers who bought the goods within the system can no longer do so, then the original specific optimization sub-optimized the system and counteracted the optimization.

The rise and fall of empires is the historical record of that. Trade can result in win-win, win-lose, lose-lose. There is nothing magical or sacred about trade itself. Self-corrections "fix" the problem, but we may regret the "solution."

The answer to Mark is this:

If the trade provides that which cannot be produced domestically and results in an individual as well as systemic enhancement, then it is positive [exchanging animals among zoos to create larger "markets" of visitors in the respective countries]. If trade results in the destruction of that which can be produced domestically and does not result in an exchange beneficial to both sides, then it is negative [foreign animals/plants overrunning the eco-system resulting in massive losses to non-zoo markets]. The unintentional consequences often exceed the intentional ones when the system is uncontrolled or the trading "partners" are unethical, unscrupulous, or careless.

Our lake cottage is without 12 mature ash trees and our lake contains zebra mussels. We are recipients of the "benefits" of trade with unethical, unscrupulous, or careless trading partners. Was it worth the cost? Well, our "zoo" was enhanced.

At 4/27/2009 8:52 AM, Blogger Braxton Hicks said...

Free trade hasn't been in existence for many years in the auto industry. Government intrusion by way of safety standards, CAFE standards, gas additives, etc. have all contributed to the industry's demise.

At 4/27/2009 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) No. They can both bite you in the ass.


3) I had my car broken into the last time I went to the Detroit Zoo. Try Bell Island.

4) Buy Amercian :)

5) The way the Lions play is unpatriotic and unprofessional.

Have a good day.

At 4/27/2009 4:21 PM, Blogger Bill said...

I am for free trade also but would not a persistent trade deficit result on capital outflows from the nation with the persistent trade deficit and wouldnt this in turn result in a lower value for the currency of this nation thereby resulting ultimately in higher prices throughout the economy? If I am wrong, please explain to me why but this seems to me to be the end result of persistent deficits.

At 4/28/2009 6:42 AM, Blogger Jack Miller said...

No need to over think this issue. Trade is good for you or you don't make the trade. The orange farmer and the wheat farmer are both better off if they grow what they grow best and trade for the other. It is a good deal for the US to print a paper dollar and to trade it for production in China. The American consumer and the Chinese producer both benefit.

At 4/28/2009 9:33 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

The American consumer and the Chinese producer both benefit.
Provided that you only select the set of Americans that are quality insensitive, and the folks in China who do not even know of the concept.

No thanks, I want a choice against junk from China. I don't want to be forced by practicality (which is as powerful as the proverbial gun).

At 4/28/2009 10:25 AM, Blogger Jack Miller said...

sethstorm, you do not appreciate the "wisdom of the market". As a group, consumers determine what is made, what is not and the quality of the product made. Ask a Russian how it worked out for the state to decide. Ask anyone in sales if they can keep selling a poorly made product just because it is cheap. The products coming from China are often but not always the best available at the price point offered. China does the assembly of computers because of the law of comparative advantage. The computer that is "imported" from China has American made components that are relatively very high margined components. The Chinese average making only a very tiny amount above wages (and yes their wage rates are much lower than ours) while Microsoft, Intel and others made nice profits off this computer. Consumers are buying the best computers on the market for the price. The gun of practicality you speak about is the result of the collective decision of the many consumers in the past who chose the Chinese product over the higher cost product, but you have the right in most cases to buy a higher priced product made at some other place.

At 4/28/2009 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack Miller,

I don't like the phrase "fair trade" because it sounds like a five-year-old kid whining. However, do you think if I was rich and bought a state I could violate all of the environmental and wage laws to sell my products cheaper in other states because I have vastly less overhead than they have?

If one state has to follow all the rules to sell to other states, why don't countries have to follow the same rules to sell to other countries? I realize as a consumer I win, but it is difficult, no make that impossible, to compete with overseas labor that is slave-labor cheap (i.e., cheap by our standards). I know that the answer is to adapt to the new conditions and find a way to thrive with the new marketplace, but a lot of people get hurt in that process.

At 4/28/2009 2:53 PM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

This article cracked me up, good one!

At 4/28/2009 3:34 PM, Blogger Jack Miller said...

States and countries must follow the law or face the consequences. If a farmer in Florida is not paying payroll taxes, he should be prosecuted. However, it is not the Nebraskan wheat farmer's responsibility to prosecute. He may report violations to the proper authorities but the enforcement of the law is a specialization just as is wheat farming. The wheat farmer will do well if he spends his work time growing wheat.

International law must also be followed. International law should be strengthened, but wishing something were illegal does not make it so.

You use the term "slave labor" and then define it as cheap by our standards, by that definition virtually all work for pay is slavery. We are all slaves in that we take the best jobs we can take and accept the best pay we can negotiate. Looking at this from a strictly humanitarian point of view, if the only choice were to give a Chinese person a job making $3 per day or an America person a job making minimum wage which would benefit humankind the most? Ignoring the benefit to the consumer of the lower price for the good produced, the probability is that the $3 per day for the Chinese person did much more for him than the $50+ dollars did for the American. The Chinese person was probably living in a grass hut, close to starvation, whereas the American was probably eating full meals and living in a heated and possibly even air conditioned space. Two dollars per day in rural China buys food for a spouse and child.

You also mentioned that a lot of people get hurt in the process. This is nothing more than a statement of reality. People are always being hurt in the process. There are always hungry people.

To be more specific, you are referring to the Schumpter's "gales of creative destruction". The world is in a virtually constant state of productivity improvements; improvements that cause the loss of some jobs and the creation of higher level jobs. Two of the groups that will feel a lot of pain over the next three years are mail carriers and newspaper delivery "boys". These people are going to lose their jobs when low cost electronic reading tablets become common. Does this mean that you should continue to buy paper books so that lumberjacks will have jobs cutting down trees? Does it mean that you and our power company should continue to waste the $1 each month to send, receive and process your bill and payment? NO! If you, your neighbors and lots of companies save those dollars, you guys will have billions to spend on other "stuff". 100+ years ago, 90% of Americans were farmers or part time farmers. Except for very special situations, Americans could not afford dentist, doctors and effective drugs. In the current cycle, the Chinese are helping us afford human replacement organs grown in labs and agents that cause our hearts to renew themselves. These "products" are being produced in places such as the Wake Forest University Research Park in Winston-Salem NC.

We face a bright future because we are willing to trade for mutual benefit with low cost producers. How many computers will a Chinese man put together before he can afford one new heart?

At 4/28/2009 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack Miller,

I actually agree with the concept of free trade. I think it has some jagged edges, but overall we are better off with free trade than without it. I like buying so much stuff today for less than I paid for it ten years ago.

Thanks for the intelligent discussion. Business either gets better or it dies. I am a GM worker who is just trying to figure this whole mess out. My opinions and cheery outlook that everything will eventually turn out for the best are not always welcome.

At 4/29/2009 7:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My God, it's sad but true. I've been subsidizing foreign animals my whole life and never realized the negative impact it had on America's animals, especially the middle and working class animals.

At 5/13/2009 7:17 PM, Blogger Jack Reylan said...

China has just started using biologically cloned humanoid drones in its factories and military to counter the greying of the population caused by their former one child policy. This biological experimentation had begun in the early 1990s to produce star athletes but was aggressivley advanced. Such drones ahve also been know to appear on American soil as illegal workers. Given they blatant disregard for American safey in products they sell, because they don't care if we stay alive after we enrich them, it is worrisome that these clones have not been adequately tested for potential disease transmission.

At 5/13/2009 8:19 PM, Blogger Jack Miller said...

I'd like to see the evidence of humanoid drones. In any event, manufacturing jobs are going the way of farm jobs and this is a good thing. Americans cried for decades about the loss of farm jobs which are among the hardest and most dangerous jobs that have ever been. I bet there are a thousand jobs you would rather do than work on a GM assembly line.


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