David R. Henderson  

How the Welfare State Promotes Nativism

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Two of the best writers in economics, and among the best thinkers, are Alan Blinder and his mentor, Robert Solow. They seem to share a common view of justice. It's a distributive view whereby the government takes from the well-to-do and gives to the poor and near poor. In other words, their view of justice leads them to a belief in the welfare state.

Here's what I find interesting: how their belief in the welfare state seems to lead them to be nativists.

Consider Alan Blinder's justification for the welfare state in his book, Hard Heads, Soft Hearts:

The soft-hearted attitude holds that we ought to soften the blows for those who play the economic game and lose, or who cannot play it at all. That objective can be served by making the game less vigorous and risky--which is the rationale for Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment insurance. Or it can be done by making the victors share some of the spoils with the vanquished--via welfare benefits, public housing, Medicaid, and progressive taxation. Liberals generally favor such public generosity. But, of course, society as a whole has no Daddy Warbucks. If benefits are to be provided to the underdogs (or losers), the favorites (or winners) must foot the bill.

A few pages later, he writes:
For the new approach to economic policy to succeed, economic issues must be cast in a less adversarial mode. We must all recognize that we live in one nation and that the broad national interest is not a meaningless abstraction, but something concrete.

In context, Blinder is saying that what matters most is people who live in "one nation," i.e., the United States. And it makes sense that his belief in the welfare state leads to nativism. If the U.S. government were to provide Medicare, Social Security, unemployment insurance, public housing, and Medicaid for the world, virtually all Americans would be at or near poverty. So notice that his belief in soft-heartedness towards poor Americans leads him to have a heart of stone for poor foreigners.

Or consider what Bob Solow writes in his New Republic review of Alan Greenspan's latest book:

Students of economics are taught that the outcome of a system of free competitive markets is (under certain conditions) "efficient." That means only that no rearrangement can make one participant better off without making some other participant worse off. They are also taught that the actual outcome, including the relative incomes of participants, depends on "initial endowments," the resources that participants bring when they enter the market. Some were born to well-off parents in relatively rich parts of the country and grew up well-fed, well-educated, well-cared-for, and well-placed, endowed with property. Others were born to poor parents in relatively poor or benighted parts of the country, and grew up on bad diets, in bad schools, in bad situations, and without social advantages or property. Others grew up somewhere in between. These differences in starting points will be reflected in their marginal products and thus in their market-determined incomes. There is nothing just about it.

This is Solow's basis for his belief in the welfare state. But did you notice something interesting in his formulation? It's the most important word in the paragraph: the word "country." Some people were unlucky because they had were relatively poor and had bad diets and no social advantages. Really? No social advantages? I'll tell you the most important "social advantage" they have: their U.S. citizenship. But again, Bob Solow is a smart numerate economist who understands that if he tried to get the U.S. government to provide the welfare state for people around the world, he would be advocating that most Americans have the same standard of living that those who are close to poverty have. So he doesn't go there.

What would be interesting would be to see if Blinder and Solow are willing to substantially relax immigration restrictions to give people who really don't have "social advantages," that is, people who are born in poor countries, a better chance. I don't know the answer.



COMMENTS (40 to date)
Steve Reilly writes:

Excellent post. Rawls was another who believed in a welfare state and then came up with bizarre reasons to justify his nativism. I don't get why people want to help the sort of poor, and then want to actively harm the very poor.

D. F. Linton writes:

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terrymac writes:

Are such thinkers starting with the welfare state, and arriving at nativism, or is their notion of "nation" already intimately bound with their beliefs, such that "we are all responsible for each other, provided that 'we' and 'each other' are limited to a single 'nation'?"

David R. Henderson writes:

@terrymac,
Really good question. I thought of that when writing, which is why I titled it with the word “promotes.” But then in writing the post, I slipped into “leads to.” I certainly think that once one has embraced the welfare state, it is hard not to be a nativist.

Daniel Kuehn writes:

This post genuinely baffles me. By "nativist" do you simply mean that they believe that the nation is one important unit of collective action? That seems to be all it means here for you. But of course that's not what "nativist" usually means, and it doesn't seem bad either.

I think much like they do, but I think some of these things need to be provided at the state and at the local level. Does that make me even MORE provincial in your eyes (I know what it makes me, but I'm curious what it makes me to you). I've always figured it makes sense to provide for community needs in the context of a community that shares traditions, resources, etc. closely in a lot of cases. The fact that it makes sense to provide benefits in my county, my state, or my nation no more makes me a nativist in any typical use of the term than the fact that I typically only make dinner for my family and not any family that's worse off than mine makes me an misanthrope.

Am I missing something big here, because I feel like I am.

This seems like sensationalism and that's not typical of you.

Daniel Kuehn writes:

Can we just get definitions straight.

By nativism do you just mean that you might possibly in any circumstance engage in some sort of relation with people within a given community and not outside of a community?

What are the bounds on this? When a corporation gives Christmas bonuses to its employees and not homeless people on the street is it being tribal/provincial (or whatever the general version of "nativist" is?).

What about a minimalist state that will enforce property rights within its jurisdiction but will not intercede when it comes to property claims elsewhere? Does that make libertarianism tend toward nativism?

Must we be proponents of either a world state or anarchy not to fall into this? Because I am genuinely baffled here and I feel like you're taking a cheap shot so I'm trying to understand what the argument even is.

Callum McPherson writes:

I think that most people are 'nativist', and that people will rationalise this belief based on their other beliefs. Therefore if you are an advocate of a strong welfare state and a nativist, you will use the preservation of the welfare state as the reason for keeping foreigners out. Likewise, many libertarians do the same - they say that to preserve 'liberty' we must keep foreigners out as they do not understand/believe in 'liberty'.

It is quite simple to be for a strong welfare state and also for a more free immigration system. This, for example, is the dominant strain of thinking where I live, in Scotland. Indeed, to continue to pay for a generous welfare state, we will need immigration to prevent the problems associated with an ageing population.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Daniel Kuehn,
By "nativist" do you simply mean that they believe that the nation is one important unit of collective action?
By “nativist,” I mean that they put the well-being of Americans well above that of foreigners, not just in their own actions, which is fine because that’s their right, but in their advocacy of force. They would use force to take from some Americans and give to others but I think they would also use force to prevent the poorest of the world from working here. I left that last part open, though, by asking the question I did.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Steve Reilly,
Thanks.

terrymac writes:

Nativism has a fairly well-established definition; see the wikipedia page, which leads with "Nativism is the political position of demanding a favored status for certain established inhabitants of a nation as compared to claims of newcomers or immigrants" - it is clearly a political position, not a statement about voluntary choices.

There's a book "The Rise and Fall of the New Nativism", which uses something similar for the definition; it hardly seems unknown or controversial.

What you fear as "anarchy", Daniel Kuehn, is simply the sum of voluntary, non-coercive choices.

kebko writes:

Another oddity is that if you are exposed to risk from capitalist or entrepreneurial activities, the safety net is not really set up for you. It's not just limited to natives, but natives engaged in labor.

MingoV writes:
For the new approach to economic policy to succeed, economic issues must be cast in a less adversarial mode.
That's a polite way of saying "fork over your money and shut up."


Most people, myself included, are not ready for a "one world" society. (Open borders are a step towards the "one world" goal.) Americans who live in a suburb with good public schools vigorously oppose having their children bused to low quality inner city schools. Such an action would level the educational playing field, but it is abhorrent to most parents. (Even inner city parents don't like having their children bused dozens of miles to a suburban school.) Similarly, Americans would be violently opposed to global leveling of wealth achieved by the distribution of their incomes among the less well off throughout the world. The average American standard of living would fall to that of a modestly successful Kenyan farmer.

If the desire to keep one's own earnings and wealth is nativist, then most Americans are happy to receive that label.

Merrcer writes:

A more accurate title for your post would be "How the Welfare State Reinforces Nativism" because nationalism and nativisim have existed long before the welfare state was established.

shecky writes:

Now comes the tricky part. 'Splain how come nativism has a tendency to run strongly among folks who claim to truly disdain the welfare state. Some of the most vociferous nativists I've come across seem to have been enthusiastic dwellers of libertarian leaning forums.

Pajser writes:

Immigration. Freedom of immigration help those who immigrate, but hurts the poorest people from their countries. If you allow Tanzanian medical doctor to immigrate, you killed few hundreds poor Tanzanians. It is bad idea.

Forced Americans. They are American by their free choice. If they do not like the rules, they can turn their back and leave the bar. Or they can stay in the bar and follow the rules. Some technical details are omitted, but that is the essence.

Americans paying welfare for rest of the world. It would be too much. But international cooperation and gradual integration of the welfare systems in one, it would be right thing.

Ross Levatter writes:

Consider an intelligent Tanzanian college student, trying to decide whether to become a doctor or do something else. He is told that if he becomes a doctor he will not be allowed to leave Tanzania, so he becomes something else.

Does Pajser believe THAT decision means he has killed a few hundred poor Tanzanians?

Simon Cranshaw writes:

In political analysis it's fair to assume that voters may focus on the welfare of their countrymen and to discuss the consequences of that. However, in general shouldn't all academic normative policy writing avoid nativist thinking? After all, many reading these are not natives and therefore may find arguments based on their greater importance unpersuasive.

Daniel Kuehn writes:

David -
re: "By “nativist,” I mean that they put the well-being of Americans well above that of foreigners"

And you interpret the welfare state for Americans but not mailing TANF checks or food stamps to Brazilians as qualifying here?

I would disagree. I don't think we should distribute TANF to Brazilians but it is NOT because I value Americans higher than Brazilians. It's because the institutional architecture for redistribution works at a local, state, or national level in a way that it doesn't internationally. Given the choice between relatively more local collective action and no collective action, of course I'm going to choose the former. And I'm also going to resent being called a nativist for that.

You can't leap from the fact that people recognize that institutions matter and that the institutional architecture associated with nations are significant from assuming they care more about one type of person than another.

Daniel Kuehn writes:

So what of the minimal state.

Recently you told me you're not a pacifist. I assume that means a little more than that you'll be happy to individually duke it out with anyone that threatens you. I assume it means you think some measure of national defense is appropriate.

I'm pretty sure you think governance to enforce property rights is OK, right? As far as I know you are not a full blown anarchist, you're a libertarian.

So:

1. Do you think the U.S. should extend these protections to non-Americans, and

2. If not, aren't you a nativist as much as these guys are?

libertarian jerry writes:

The basis of all rights are property rights. Without property rights the average American is a tax serf whose fruits of his labor are subject to redistribution at the whim of politicians and bureaucrats,all at the point of a gun. What does it matter to a victim of redistributive taxation whether the fruits of his labor,taken by force,is given away to "native" Americans or to foreign countries? His or her property rights are still being violated. Its the same scenario if a rape victim could choose between being raped by an American or by a foreigner. Rape is still rape. Writers like Binder and Solow conveniently leave out the fact as to whose wealth is being redistributed. They,like most collectivists,believe that all wealth belongs to all people and that somehow wealth "is." That is wealth creation is some kind of spontaneous event. There is no logic and reason in their assumptions of spontaneous wealth creation being separated from the wealth creator's property rights.

Pajser writes:

Ross Levatter, Americans cannot forbid Tanzanian doctor to leave Tanzania. Their choice is to motivate, pay Tanzanian doctor to leave Tanzania - or not.

It is not hard to find potential students in poor countries. It is hard to find money for their studies.

James writes:

Daniel Kuehn:
"I don't think we should distribute TANF to Brazilians but it is NOT because I value Americans higher than Brazilians. It's because the institutional architecture for redistribution works at a local, state, or national level in a way that it doesn't internationally."

That instititutional architecture exists in its current form because the people who designed the welfare state didn't even consider redistributing to anyone other than citizens. Whether the designers were explicitly committed to a nativist view is beyond our ability to know but the architecture they came up with is a nativist's dream.

Proponents of the welfare state like yourself can claim not to be nativists, but if you are going to propose TANF for Brazilians as though that were the only alternative that occurred to you, it doesn't help your credibility if you want to claim to be any kind of a utilitarian in order to argue for redistribution within the US.

The relevant question is whether or not a utilitarian proponent of redistribution can support an institutional architecture that only works for redistribution within the worlds top 3%. I'm sure that you could, in the space of an afternoon, think of many international options besides Brazilian TANF that would better satisfy the same sort of utilitarian reasons that lead you to favor redistribution within the US.

Tom Dougherty writes:

David,

You write, "Some people were unlucky because they had were relatively poor and had bad diets and no social advantages. Really? No social advantages? I'll tell you the most important "social advantage" they have: their U.S. citizenship."

Liberals think, and you think, Americans have a social advantage that needs to be eliminated. Liberals think the social advantage is that some are losers with bad diets, crummy educations, poor relatives, etc. that needs to be rectified with the redistribution of wealth (within the U.S.). You think the social advantage that we have is our U.S. citizenship and that needs to be rectified with the redistribution of the worldwide capital per worker ratio.

U.S. workers' wages are higher than those around the world because the United States has more capital for each U.S. worker than, say, the capital per worker ratio of the citizens of Somalia or Mongolia.

Your view of justice, as I see it, is to level the capital per worker playing field by letting anyone in the world come to the U.S. This would have the dual effect of reducing the amount of capital per worker in the U.S. (and therefore, U.S. wages), at the same time increasing the amount of capital per worker abroad (increasing wages abroad). Taken to the logical conclusion, people would stop emigrating to the U.S., and other locales around the world that had open borders, when there was an equalization of wages worldwide. U.S. wages would no longer be superior to any other country around the world. I'm sure you would say that Americans do not deserve to have a higher wage than anyone else around the world and to argue otherwise would be a "nativist" position.

So, your argument is that by preventing anyone worldwide from emigrating to the U.S. we are using force to keep American wages higher than other workers around the world and it is this you would like to eliminate.

Mark Bahner writes:
Now comes the tricky part. 'Splain how come nativism has a tendency to run strongly among folks who claim to truly disdain the welfare state.

That's very easy to explain. We live in a country in which the federal government (completely unauthorized by the Constitution) takes from the rich and gives to the poor.

If one thinks the government should not take from the rich and give to the poor, it makes sense to allow as few poor in as possible.

Seth writes:

Classic family/non-family confusion, typical of a liberal mindset.

As I believe Hayek pointed out, prices (at least money prices) don't work particularly well within families, but they work wonderfully beyond the family to coordinate the activity of billions.

Daniel is not a misanthrope for not making dinner for non-family members. Nor is he a restaurateur or soup kitchen volunteer.

Blinder et al want to view the nation as a family, and, of course, for themselves to be seen as the wise old patriarch whose counsel can outperform prices.

I find Blinder too preachy for my tastes.

MikeP writes:

The conclusion is clear and inescapable: People who have a moral belief in forced redistribution limited to the United States but not in open borders are either (a) rampant nativists or (b) utter hypocrites.

It is plainly immoral to mandate discrimination based on a where an individual happened to be born. Furthermore, the great majority of prospective immigrants are without a doubt the least well off in any comparison involving American citizens.

So liberals who were truly interested in the moral or maximizing the minimum should be stumbling over themselves doing whatever it takes to open the borders. Instead liberals advocate minimum wages and other market interventions that directly help the top 10% and make it outright illegal for the less well off to participate at all.

Seb Nickel writes:

Related to the question first raised here by terrymac:

I agree that welfare statism probably reinforces nativism. But I don't see how one could end up supporting a nation-bound welfare system if one isn't a nativist to begin with. So the "leads to" statement seems quite implausible to me.

Jameson writes:

I find Daniel Kuehn's remarks trenchant, especially when he mentions, for comparison, the rule of law itself. Since most libertarians agree that a state which enforces property rights is necessary for the growth of prosperity, it seems they are just as vulnerable as liberals defending the welfare state: why defend such a state for your own nation and not the entire world?

Ah, but you will say, creating such a global state would require coercion, violent take-overs of all the currently existing states. But defenders of the welfare state could say the same thing.

Ah, but you will say, even if we had a global state, established in such a manner so as to enforce the basic individual liberties and property rights of all people, such a state could still not afford to provide a minimum welfare floor for the entire world's population. But couldn't it? If libertarian economic theory is correct, such a global state would lead to such economic prosperity that surely a minimal welfare state would in fact be possible, even for the whole world's population.

So I'm not sure the consistency argument goes as far as some libertarians suggest.

Daniel Kuehn writes:

Seth -
re: "Classic family/non-family confusion, typical of a liberal mindset."

Who is this directed to? (Laura Landsburg has deleted comments for keeping that vague before!). If it's to my comment, I was not equating the two I was just offering a number of options for what David could have meant. He clarified, and I continued to argue along the lines of his clarification. There's no confusion on my part (I'm not really sure it makes sense to call me a liberal anyway). Actually I see the confusion more among conservatives or libertarians who talk in terms of family analogies and the government.

Daniel Kuehn writes:

Jameson -
Thanks. And that's not just a challenge to libertarians. It's to everyone in the classical liberal tradition that supports the enforcement of property rights. I am pro-property rights for much the same reason that I am pro-welfare, after all. And it raises many of the same governance issues.

Clearly Blinder/Solow highlight that we are governing under constraints. There's no doubt we face trade-offs and tensions and have to make choices about the supply of goods publicly (not necessarily public goods) that may not be our ideal (I'd love Brazilians to get TANF checks), but makes sense given the trade-offs we face.

That's part of living in this world. That's an application of the economic way of thinking.

It's not nativism and it's a shame that these great minds are being accused of that here.

RPLong writes:

Daniel Kuehn puts libertarians in an unfair position. First, he denies them the ability to use a word to describe a discussion topic. Perhaps "nativism" carries a weight with Kuehn that it doesn't with Henderson. But that doesn't make Henderson's point wrong; we're bandying about semantics.

Second, yes, we face trade-offs. There are trade-offs associated with maintaining policies, just as there are with ending them. That is, I believe, Henderson's point when he writes:

So notice that his belief in soft-heartedness towards poor Americans leads him to have a heart of stone for poor foreigners.

Maybe Kuehn is right that this isn't necessarily a "nativist" sentiment. But Henderson's point is exactly right, whatever we choose to call it, and that's the important thing.

LD Bottorff writes:

Alan Blinder is one of the best writers in economics?

OK, Professor Henderson, I will try much harder to read and understand Blinder's writings.

MikeP writes:

1. Do you think the U.S. should extend these protections to non-Americans, and

I don't. The existence of government for the protection of rights by government is a pragmatic necessity. Government is not a moral agent, nor are government actions black and white.

The goodness and quality of "governance to enforce property rights" is a matter of degree -- a degree which declines precipitously when one government starts enforcing property rights in other sovereign lands.

On the other hand, forced redistribution from the well off to the less well off generally is done for reasons of morality rather than pragmatism. This moral reasoning completely fails if it takes from the 1% and gives to the 10%, totally ignoring the 3 billion actually poor who live elsewhere.

Mark Bahner writes:
Since most libertarians agree that a state which enforces property rights is necessary for the growth of prosperity, it seems they are just as vulnerable as liberals defending the welfare state: why defend such a state for your own nation and not the entire world?

Which libertarian opposes the whole world being libertarian? I don't think there's any libertarian who opposes the whole world being libertarian. There are only libertarians who oppose being asked to bear the burden of making the whole world libertarian (which will not even be possible, as far as I can see).

For example, look at the libertarians who have participated in the Free State project in New Hampshire. They moved to a cold and bleak (no offense intended New Hampshire...it's a simple fact ;-)) place that was already leaning in the direction of libertarianism. And after several years of effort, New Hampshire still isn't libertarian (e.g. no minimum wage laws, legality of all substances adults choose to put in their bodies, and so on).

Ah, but you will say, even if we had a global state, established in such a manner so as to enforce the basic individual liberties and property rights of all people, such a state could still not afford to provide a minimum welfare floor for the entire world's population. But couldn't it? If libertarian economic theory is correct, such a global state would lead to such economic prosperity that surely a minimal welfare state would in fact be possible, even for the whole world's population.

We'd need to define "minimal welfare state". The average world income is about $8000 a year. So even with zero variation, no person would be making more than $8000 a year.

But beyond that, libertarians would *still* oppose taking money from one group to give to another group. There's no inconsistency there.

Philo writes:

It's obvious that the national socialism of the Welfare State is incompatible with international socialism, and that the latter is the bien-pensant view. Solow and Blinder are too intelligent not to see this, so they must have some defense of their preference for national socialism. Does anyone know in what their defense consists?

Lee Waaks writes:

When advocates for the welfare state refer to "victors" and "vanquished", I think they prejudice their case for the welfare state by appearing to equate Capitalism with a zero-sum society akin to The Hunger Games, rather than what it really is: a profit driven, competitive system that has dramatically raised productivity and real wages. While we are all aware of those who are the victims of brute luck (e.g. birth defects, accidents, etc.), we are also aware of a vast army of ne'er-do-wells. For example, where I work, many "disadvantaged" people have been fired for tardiness. Unless we wish to reclassify lateness as "congenital tardiness", then I don't think this qualifies as brute luck. Many advocates of the welfare state avert their eyes from these ne'er-do-wells and expect us to believe that the vast majority of "losers" in the U.S. are plucky and good-hearted Tiny Tims on crutches. This is not my personal experience -- or the experience of many others.

Secondly, the welfare state is paternalistic and flouts liberty. It's one thing to provide food/shelter for those who are close to perishing due to need/want; it's quite another to build an entitlement state that chooses how we must spend our money. In addition, Bryan Caplan made an excellent point about a year ago that there are an infinite number of social problems that we could combat, but we have more or less settled on the current system due to historical arbitrariness and moral fervor for "hard won" gains.

Third, good intentions do not lead to good outcomes (as welfare adovocates obviously know). Yet, like socialism, the welfare state is a bold conjecture, but I'm not sure there are solid scientific reasons to think it will work (i.e. produce greater want satisfaction from the point of view of the indvidual). Granted, e.g. Sweden has not collapsed (far from it) but that does not prove success. If we respect liberty, the metric should be increased want satisfaction as determined by the individual. Sweden has failed based on that metric.

Lastly, the welfare state -- and all social legislation in general -- is paid for by the recipients, i.e. the middle-class and poor. Sucking the bank accounts of the rich only shifts spending on capital goods to government consumption and thereby reduces growth. See George Reisman, Capitalism, pp.300ff.

As for the charge of nativism, I think it will likely stick until welare advocates start pushing for the U.S./Europe to open the door to millions of poverty-stricken Third World folks. We don't need to make transfer payments to accomplish that. But wither the welfare state under those circumstances?

Mercer writes:

"advocates of the welfare state avert their eyes from these ne'er-do-wells"

Social spending by the federal government is mainly for the elderly. Are they who you are calling ne'er-do-wells?

"charge of nativism, I think it will likely stick until welare advocates"

Since the dems expanded the welfare state with Obamacare no one has called them nativists. If you think charges of natavism will stick to them you don't think very well.

Roger McKinney writes:

Seth:

Hayek pointed out, prices (at least money prices) don't work particularly well within families, but they work wonderfully beyond the family to coordinate the activity of billions.

Exactly! And that's why socialists have to be nativists! They have no choice. To riff more on Hayek, applying family values to the state or state values to the family will destroy both.

Schoeck in his "Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior" argues that successful people like Solow and Blinder feel guilty about their success and pay penance for it by advocating socialist ideas. If they really cared about the poor, they would simply give their wealth to poor people they know. But that's not enough for them. They must wear the scratchy hair shirt and flagellate themselves in order to atone for their success.

Floccina writes:

Seeing that 1 billion people live on less than $2/day what is the nature of poverty in the USA?

Others were born to poor parents in relatively poor or benighted parts of the country, and grew up on bad diets, in bad schools, in bad situations, and without social advantages or property.

If children in the USA endure bad diets, in bad schools, is it even possible that a lack of money is the problem? The poorest county in the USA has no lack of food and good schools.

Or is this true:

Meyer and Sullivan used consumption data, and again they set up the calculation so that the poverty rate for consumption data is the same as the poverty rate for income data as of 1980. Again, the blue line shows the official poverty rate. The red line shows the poverty rate with a broader definition of income, adjusted for after-tax income. The green line shows the change in the poverty rate if consumption is used to measure poverty. By this measure, the poverty rate almost reaches zero percent in 2007, before the Great Recession.

Or....

Have zoning laws and other housing laws the USA made it illegal to be poor.

And/or...

Has the USA's welfare programs made our lower income people lose the knowledge of how to live on a little.

Paul Eich writes:

I assume that some progressive somewhere is writing intelligently about this topic, but for me it has seemed one of the most glaring idiosyncrasies in the current dialogue. "Inequality" of outcomes has achieved a status of "worst thing ever", unless it is second to providing employment in places that are not within the territorial boundaries of the US (outsourcing).

If the question of equality of outcome is to be framed as a defining issue of morality, I don't see any way to justify the idea that I have a right to the money of another US citizen because I have less, while the guy standing across the border (or living across the Atlantic) does not have such a right.

If equality of outcome is such an overwhelming imperative, about 95% of us in the US should have to send all of our stuff somewhere else, and most of our jobs and factories and medicine and houses too.

The fact that issue receives little consideration in the present political dialogue indicates it is a matter of political expediency, designed to reinforce the view of the Federal Govt as a force that levels the playing field, making things "fair" for all.

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