Friday, October 19, 2007

I don't CARE if it's cheaper 

As I drove to campus today I heard Laura Ingraham excoriating the Department of Homeland Security for the purchasing of Chinese steel for building the border fence along the Mexican border with Arizona. Pennsylvania legislators are predictably in anguish over DHS' insensitivity. Captain Ed comments,
Normally, I prefer a free-market approach and think the government should get the best deal, just like any other consumer. However, if we're going to build a border barrier, having a "Made in China" label on it sends a curious message. National-security efforts should involve Americans to the greatest degree possible, ...
Yes, it does send a message: We know the difference between free trade in goods and illegal immigration. Why we should conflate the two is beyond me, and our unwillingness to tell the U.S. steel industry that we don't wish to (again!) send taxpayer money to support their inefficient industry is simple economic foolishness.

That piece of Ed's last sentence is a good example of Caplan's anti-foreign bias. He knows the free market argument but rejects it because it's unseemly to him in this case. I suspect the majority agree with Ed: This is what drives up the price of government.

BTW, this joke from the Adam Smith Institute today seems appropriate in the context:
A kangaroo kept getting out of his enclosure at the zoo. Knowing that he could hop high, the zoo officials put up a 10-foot fence. He was out the next morning, just roaming around the zoo. A 20-foot fence was put up. Again he got out. When the fence was 40 feet high, a camel in the next enclosure asked the kangaroo, "How high do you think they'll go?"
The kangaroo said, "About a thousand feet, unless somebody locks the gate at night!"