Sen. Elizabeth Warren D-Mass., just conducted a town hall to promote her plan for America entitled “economic patriotism”. There wasn’t anything new, just a rehash of ideas she has promoted for years. The left has latched onto it in particular because Tucker Carlson of FOX News has embraced her principles. This is seen as somewhat of a coup when an ideological opponent praises even any part of one’s platform. Who knows what Carlson’s political ideology is. He has a track record of not supporting libertarian principles. Carlson, like so many people, probably doesn’t fit into a tidy description of being conservative or libertarian or just plain old republican. Most people on the ‘right’ likely are a mash-up of particular aspects of each. Regardless, Carlson was just making a point and clearly not endorsing Warren.
What’s interesting is what isn’t clearly acknowledged. There are precious few ‘American’ companies. Meaning companies located on American soil, employed with American citizens, consumers of only American made materials and financed purely by Americans. Companies are global, multi-national conglomerates. The headquarters may be located in America but their supply chain, manufacturing chain, distribution chain, sales arm and investor base is almost guaranteed to be spread around the world. Even a small business, a mom and pop shop, is a consumer of some form of the global supply chain. So what does it mean to be ‘economically patriotic’?
Warren says companies have no “loyalty or allegiance to America”. Correct. She says their only loyalty is to “short-term interests of their stockholders”. Correct again although one could dispute the short-term claim. Fact is the vast, vast majority of so-called ‘American’ companies are indeed globally oriented and publicly financed meaning that yest they are beholden to those stockholders and their interests regardless of their nationality or country of origin. You may not like that but it is reality.
The Warren solution is for politicians to intercede on behalf of American workers. There is a word for that. Socialism. Whenever government controls the means of production, regardless if it’s for a really good cause like the benefit of Americans, it’s socialism. Carlson clearly supports this. Protectionist policies inherently must be socialist. You simply can’t get around it. Therein lies the problem for so many. They don’t outwardly support socialism or protectionist policies but see things like tariffs, buy American mandates, or other measures designed to help the American worker as an acceptable exclusion. The principle is acceptable however the reality of the slippery slope of government intervention is unavoidable. One only need to look at our economy for verification. It has been precisely the role of government that has led companies to their current makeup. Outsourcing labor and materials globally is a natural reflection of the global marketplace. Should a company pay more for parts and labor to prioritize America? If they wish to compete globally costs must be in line with the competition. If you don’t, you eliminate a large portion of the potential global market. Foreigners won’t buy American at higher prices than they can source elsewhere. The solution from the left would be to control corporate profits to stay competitive globally even with countries with access to cheaper labor and materials. Once again, we’ve crossed over into socialism.
Boy, wouldn’t it be great if socialism just worked at face value? If government didn’t quench its unquenchable thirst for power? If companies were ok with a set profit margin and always passed on excess profits to employees, stockholders and customers? So far, no one has ever even proposed a working solution to balance the scale of government power with the profit motive. You can’t get to “economic patriotism” without forced adherence and tipping that scale. Tucker Carlson may wish that republicans would make a promise to ‘protect’ American industries but it’s an untenable position. Companies would have to willingly violate their oath to the stockholders and prioritize America first over a return on investment. Hey, if a company is upfront about their culture and makes it 100% clear in their prospectus that America trumps all, then if investors still wish to invest more power to them. But it has to be a voluntary transaction on both sides. In fact if more investors, employees and customers saw the benefit of keeping the middleman, the Federal Government, out of the picture, we as a country would greatly profit.
The motto ‘Buy American’ needs to be updated. Buying from an American company in an effort to be a patriot may not be as it seems. To be 100% American is likely a bar too high for most. Every facility located in America. Every employee an American citizen. Every part made in America. Every investor an America. All R&D conducted in America. How about Pure American? It’s a moniker that you would certainly pay a premium for. However, that cost would be far, far cheaper than the road to serfdom paved by socialist dreams. Warren and Carlson may believe but America can only lose by joining in.