The Moral High Ground
Steve Landsburg has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism around the web lately, and I'm sure that people who are eager to attack the man for whatever he says will jump all over his latest statements, which equate John Edwards' attitudes towards international trade with the racism of David Duke, as some sort of irrationally hateful slander of the Democratic candidates:
If George Bush had chosen the racist David Duke as a running mate, I'd have voted against him, almost without regard to any other issue. Instead, John Kerry chose the xenophobe John Edwards as a running mate. I will therefore vote against John Kerry.
Duke thinks it's imperative to protect white jobs from black competition. Edwards thinks it's imperative to protect American jobs from foreign competition. There's not a dime's worth of moral difference there. While Duke would discriminate on the arbitrary basis of skin color, Edwards would discriminate on the arbitrary basis of birthplace. Either way, bigotry is bigotry, and appeals to base instincts should always be repudiated.
I think that Landsburg should instead be commended for expressing such lofty values on the equal worthiness of every human life while denouncing the Democrats' shamelessly bigoted vitriol. I eagerly await his future columns which will expound on what the people and government of America should do to be just and fair to all the people of the world. Among the highlights of the articles that we can expect to come are:
- A reevaluation of immigration policies. Why should some people be allowed to live in the United States while others are not, just because they happen to have a different birthplace? The xenophobic attitude of those who want restrictions on immigration is equivalent to that of the racists in 19th century America who wanted to see blacks excluded from their society and sent back to Africa.
- A scathing critique of government spending. If I am reading this chart correctly, those who live outside of America only receive about 2% of US government transfer payments, even though they make up over 95% of the population. Imagine the outrage if the average white American received over one thousand times as much in government transfer payments as the average black American, for no other reason than the color of their skin (despite the average white already being richer than the average black). There is no moral difference between that racist travesty and the way that the government currently decides who is "deserving" of its transfer payments based on birthplace.
- Righteous indignation at America's bastardization of the democratic process. Over 95% of the world's population has no say in electing the leader of the free world, merely on account of some arbitrary rule about the location of their birthplace. Even in the Jim Crow south, the disenfranchisement of blacks was never so ruthlessly and disturbingly thorough.
I can't wait to see Landsburg go after the xenophobic bigots on these issues! And if he already has any columns out there that apply his basic moral concern for human equality to these policy areas, please point them out to me. (The only related column that I know of is this one, which looks at voting from a slightly different perspective.)