A prejudice can be so subtle that even the afflicted himself may be left entirely unaware. In this instance I’m referring, alas, to yours truly. You’ve noticed how I view myself a passionate advocate for free trade—how I effort mightily to clear your mind of the rubble heaped upon it by (per my accusations) self-serving politicians and well-meaning ignorants. But then, as I realized (to my dismay) last evening, I turn around and waste your time (in yesterday’s white board lesson and last year’s article) and completely—innocently—mislead you. I cited statistics suggesting that you and I allocate 88.5% of our spending to domestic goods and services. Well, ignorance—I just realized—has been mine: I was dead wrong! I thus owe you the sincerest apology, for I in no way meant to mislead you—I honestly believed those bogus stats.
I was struck by this epiphany while mentally recounting a conversation with a friend who had just returned from Jamaica—where he and his wife celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. We were echoing one another about how a dramatic increase in regulations in our respective industries has served only to increase our cost of doing business, when he mentioned another thousand dollars he recently flushed down the regulatory toilet that “could have been used for giving tips in Jamaica” (earlier we discussed the challenge of determining how much to tip all those outstretched palms you encounter while traveling internationally). I said “you know that too-many Americans would say that at least the thousand bucks stayed in the U.S., as opposed to going to some foreigner. Truly, most people are entirely ignorant of the fact that the minute you hand over a tip, in U.S. dollars (claims against U.S. stuff), to a foreigner (or, for that matter, convert a dollar to his currency) you are unequivocally supporting the U.S. economy.”
That’s right folks, as I’ve expressed here—ad nauseam—when we spend money on goods and services produced abroad we are, without question, supporting our own economy. Only a foreigner who plans to buy from (or invest in) us will be willing to sell to us. Therefore, again, the 88.5% figure is entirely bogus. Literally 100% of our expenditures directly (yes directly) benefit the U.S. economy.
I beg your forgiveness…