David Sirota Thinks I’m Right Wing/Ignorant

So I wasn’t planning on posting this weekend, but this is just too good to pass up. I got called out by Arch- Blogospheric Defender of Progressive Values in the United States David Sirota on the front page of Open Left. Mr. Sirota is the author of The Uprising and Hostile Takeover and a syndicated column and is currently leading a campaign to pressure the Obama administration to maintain the “Buy American” provisions in the economic stimulus package.  I responded to a post on the Buy American campaign to suggest the idea of economic patriotism was “silly.”

This Is Not Me

Memo To David Sirota: This Is Not Me

In response, Mr. Sirota suggests I am offering “a pure form of the right-wing/ignorant argument against Buy America.” He suggests I lack “a basic, grade-school level understanding of economics.” He kindly offered me a free-course in Economics 101. (Although in all honesty I preferred the course I was given by Professor Clausing.) I am impressed that Mr. Sirota learned economics in grade-school, but I think he may have forgotten a little something since then. As I see it, there are three big problems with Buy American provisions in the stimulus, which I outline in my comments on OpenLeft:

1. Inefficienies and distortions in the market resulting from political choices – If American firms can’t compete for government projects and then expand capacity to fill government orders, they may not maintain competitiveness in the time after the order is filled. Although I am not of a critic of all industrial policy, there are good reasons for the government not to get too involved with setting up restrictions on where spending goes. Foreign companies will lobby to be exempted by the rules and gain a competitive advantage and there will be tons of loopholes and wrangling over what constitutes an “American Made” product.

2. Loss of efficiency in the spending towards desired outcomes – Spending money on American products only makes sense if the multiplier effect is greater than the efficiency gains of buying foreign products. Some spending is likely to create jobs, while others would be better used for other kinds of investments (as with the staplers vs. teachers comparison).

3. Justification for autarkic spending by other nations – If France, China and Germany follow the logic of keeping all stimulus domestic we would all be worse off than if we had all done the opposite. The US has an important leadership roll to play in the global financial crisis and it will make it more difficult for us to argue that other nations should puruse stimulus plans – especially when the US is seen as the cause of the crisis – than if our plan is also open. There is no reason for all nations to resort to closing their boarders in response to the crisis, which would only exacerbate the situation.

As hypothetical readers of this blog may remember, I have called Mr. Sirota out as a hack in the past, but I am surprised to see him actually respond. It is precisely this tendency to group all who disagree with him as Right Wing automatons mindlessly spouting establishment propaganda that so irritates me, so I suppose it shouldn’t come as such a shock. As a matter of blogger ethics, I think it’s unfair to quote just the first part of someone’s comment who isn’t able to respond.

UPDATE: I liked this post from a fellow wordpress blogger titled, “The Sheer Idiocy of David Sirota.”