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Jewish World Review Feb. 17, 2004/ 25 Shevat, 5763

Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn
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The Default Democrat from another world |
How do you feel about "outsourcing"? John Kerry, the Default Democrat that his party's poor voters are trying hard to pretend to be excited about, is very opposed to it. His stump speech includes fierce denunciations of American corporations that export jobs overseas. He has pledged his support for a "Call Center Consumer's Right To Know", which would require that the guy at the call center identify his location at the beginning of every call. Right now, you just get vague hints - for example, if I'm in New Hampshire and dial directory inquiries and ask for a number in Woodsville and the fellow says, "Certainly, sir. What hemisphere is that in?"

Unfortunately, this "Right To Know" system wasn't in place when Kerry's campaign placed calls to potential voters in Wisconsin. So it was only a few observant Democrats with "Caller ID" displays who happened to notice that the calls were coming from an Ontario area code. Ontario is not in the United States. They don't even have call centers in Ontario, only kinky misspelled call centers. Yet all those calls explaining that "John Kerry's the candidate you can count on to stand up to selfish corporations exporting American jobs to foreign countries" were coming from Canada.

So Kerry took immediate action and fired the company. A couple of days later, he found himself beset by rumors about him and a young intern, who's since left the country for Kenya. What a guy. Even his interns are outsourced to Third World jurisdictions. So all the doorstepping of the poor gal that would normally be done by big-time salaried National Enquirer correspondents with expense accounts has now been sub-contracted to minimum-wage East African stringers.

What does Kerry's wife, ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz, make of this? Not the intern, but the outsourcing. Well, the missus's Pittsburgh-based family business has 22 factories in the United States and 57 on foreign soil. Even Heinz is out-sauce-ing its ketchup to foreigners.

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Thus, to date, the John Kerry presidential candidacy to keep jobs in America has exported its campaign calls to Ontario, its sex scandal to Kenya, and the spousal ketchup to Middlesex. What's wrong with this picture? Nothing. Except Kerry's hostility to the global economy. Part of this is just the necessary image re-positioning of a politician who suffers from the disadvantage that hardly anything about him appears to be American-made. His education, for example, was outsourced to a Swiss finishing school. But the rest of it betrays an ignorance about how the world works.

For example, whenever I caught Kerry on the stump in New Hampshire, he railed against American companies who, for tax purposes, "rent a post office box in Bermuda". Good for Bermuda, I say. If you couldn't rent a post office box off-shore, you can imagine what rate of business taxes there'd be in America.

At the Davos economic forum the other day, a live greeting was beamed down to the assembled grandees from a British astronaut, who read out some one-world guff about how, viewed from space, the Earth is not divided by borders. I'm sure that's true. It's also true that in space no one can hear you scream, which is just as well, because that's what I'd be doing in a world without borders. If we ever do achieve that blessed utopia, you can pretty much guess which end of the scale the one-world government will set the tax rates at. There'll be no post office boxes in Bermuda and John Kerry, Kofi Annan and Romano Prodi can regulate the economy to their hearts' content.

Right now, they can't. Borders equal choice, and competition. The reason American jobs and companies jump the frontier is because, while the US is one of the more benign countries in the developed world when it comes to personal taxes, the conduct of business there gets more and more onerous, thanks to such factors as the excessive Federal regulation favored by Kerry and his ilk and the exposure to massive lawsuits favored by his principal rival for the Democratic nomination, the pretty-boy trial lawyer John Edwards.

Whenever Kerry goes on about exporting jobs, you're sort of left with the impression that they're all going to some Third World backwater paying its nine-year-old workers six bucks a week. In fact, the senator's Canadian campaign calls are far more typical. Not because trying to explain Kerry's "nuanced" position on Iraq is the kind of highly-skilled job way beyond your average Hutu kindergartner - it seems, in any case, the Ontario calls were automated - but because of simple economic reality.

I wouldn't outsource my campaign calls to Liberia because the phone line out of the country only works for two hours a week and it would be kind of embarrassing to have your Monrovia campaign caller macheted to death by a drug-fuelled gang before she's finished explaining your health-care plan to the guy in Wisconsin. When American companies create jobs abroad, they look for good infrastructure, an educated work force, and less exposure to John Kerry-type micro-regulation - so they go to Ontario, Ireland, England, but not the Sudan.

More importantly, anything John Kerry is likely to do about this problem will make it worse. Because of the protectionist regime set up for the benefit of American sugar producers, Lifesaver candy is now made in Quebec, where sugar is cheaper. The government's artificial insourcing of sugar jobs in Florida does far more damage to the broader economy.

Whatever Kerry thinks, companies are sovereign entities: they can't be geographically contained. The good news is that, in the future, more and more of the world's people will be "sovereign individuals", in William Rees-Mogg's phrase. I doubt very much that tomorrow's Franco-German-British summit will discuss the demographic death-spiral Europe's in, but that's really the only economic factor that will matter in 20 years' time: the shortage of people - on the Continent, in Japan, and elsewhere. If you're, say, an educated Singaporean, you can write your own ticket to anywhere on Earth: you'll be able to outsource yourself. John Kerry's lazy reflex protectionism is irrelevant to this future.

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JWR contributor Mark Steyn is North American Editor of The (London) Spectator and the author, most recently, of "The Face of the Tiger," a new book on the world post-Sept. 11. (Sales help fund JWR). Comment by clicking here.

02/10/04: Kerry won't scare any of the big beasts
02/02/04: The Kerry biography: He's risen without trace
01/26/04: Mad Dr. Dean jolts Kerry campaign to life
01/21/04: Undoing the party herd
01/13/04: llIegals the political 'untouchables'
01/05/04: Don't leave Saddam trial to the 'jet set'
12/30/03: Doers and disparagers
12/23/03: Spates of denial
12/16/03: Defiant? He's a Ba'athist who won't bath
12/10/03: Rummy speaks the truth, not gobbledygook
12/02/03: War on terror can't stop with Iraq
11/24/03: It's not Vietnam and Bush is no Kennedy
11/12/03: There is a Cold War between the US and the EU
10/28/03: Muslim paranoia: Enemies made us impotent!

10/28/03:The CIA scandal is important not because it put an agent's life at risk — it didn't — but because it shows that US Intelligence is either obstructive or inept
10/08/03: Palestinian death cult
09/29/03: Bring on the capitalists
09/22/03: Here comes General Clark, his policies will follow shortly
09/17/03: Don't wait for government protection
09/11/03: Predators aren't looking for peace
09/02/03: This is Hillary's moment — You go, girl!
08/29/03: There are now calls for greater UN involvement in Iraq. Thatís the last thing the country needs
08/26/03: There's only one hyperpower — so everything is our fault
08/04/03: The White Man's Burden
07/29/03: Bill Clinton got this right
06/25/03: It's Mullah time!
05/07/03: What counts is what a guy does when he's not talking
04/30/03: It's named UNSCAM for a very good reason!
04/14/03: Movers and shakers have moved on to the next 'disaster'
03/25/03: Give Saddam credit
03/18/03: 'Eurabia' will have to look after herself
02/27/03: Death wish
02/19/03: The curtain will come down on the peaceniks
02/10/03: Let's quit the UN
02/03/03: Columbia reality-check
01/29/03: Go forth and multiply
01/09/03: America's fake identity crisis
12/31/02: GOP underperforms, but Dems are laughable
11/26/02: A bombing pause --- for 12 months!?
10/30/02: Stop making excuses for Muslim extremists
09/27/02: The more inventively you try to ''explain'' the Islamist psychosis as a rational phenomenon to be accommodated, the more you risk sounding just as nutty as them
08/23/02: Battered Westerner Syndrome inflicted by myopic Muslim defenders
08/09/02: Friends in low places
08/02/02: Armageddon out of here
07/26/02: Enjoy the ''scandal'' while you can, lads
07/16/02: Arafat is toast; Bush knows it --- so why doesn't the rest of the world?
07/10/02: Hey, FBI: So, denial really is a river in Egypt!
06/20/02: A fight to the finish
06/11/02: Rock, royalty a good match
05/31/02: Unless we change our ways ... the world faces a future where things look pretty darn good
05/24/02: Sweet land of liberty: Britain and Europe have free governments, but only in the US are the people truly free
05/14/02: Extreme hypocrisy in the pursuit of 'peace' is ...
05/10/02: The home office of extremism
05/01/02 Slipping down the Eurinal of history: France, the joke is on you
04/23/02 It's time to snap out of Arab fantasy land
04/16/02 Mideast war exposes 'ugly Europeans'
04/09/02 Arafat has begun his countdown to oblivion. Now it's time to crush the Palestinian uprising
03/27/02 The good, the bad and the Gallic shrug
03/20/02 Grand convocation of the weird

© 2004, Mark Steyn