Bernie Sanders has been getting increasing attention here lately. That’s appropriate, now that he is the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. When you start paying attention to Sanders, you realize how dumb his policy ideas really are. A case in point is this tweet from yesterday evening:
I've got a message for corporate America: if you want us to buy your products, you better start producing them here in the United States.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 15, 2015
When confronted by ignorance of that magnitude, it is hard to know where to begin. Here are a few basic observations.
1) Sanders’ tweet is addressed to American corporations, but if he doesn’t want to buy any products that weren’t made in America, does that mean that he wants to end all foreign trade? Apparently so. What logic would support buying products made in China by China-based companies, or Canada-based companies, but not products made in China by America-based companies? So if his position has any coherence at all, Sanders must be opposed to all foreign trade. That’s a policy that Japan tried in the 19th century, but no one other than North Korea has given it a go lately. It would be interesting to hear Sanders try to explain his no-trade policy to farmers in Iowa and others employed in export industries.
2) Today’s world is complicated, and complex products usually come from a variety of sources. For example, there is no such thing anymore as an “American” car or a “Japanese” car. Of all motor vehicles, the one that is “made in America” to the largest degree is the Toyota Avalon. Many, many products that we all use would either be entirely unavailable, or would be prohibitively expensive, if they were required to be produced 100% in the United States.
3) Tweeters at Twitchy point out that Sanders undoubtedly published his tweet on a device manufactured in Asia. They note that if the iPhone were required to be manufactured in the United States, it would cost $2,000.
4) Actually, if the iPhone were required to be manufactured in the United States, it wouldn’t exist. A $2,000 smart phone would be uncompetitive. It couldn’t be sold outside the U.S., and it could only be sold inside the U.S. if sales of all competing smart phones were banned. So again, the logic of Sanders’ position is that foreign trade must be ended. The U.S. would either be the only place in the world without smart phones (to stay with that example), or we would have smart phones that only the wealthy can afford. Income inequality, Bernie?
5) Sanders is an ignoramus when it comes to economics and many other things, but there is one other candidate who has made noises about trade almost as dumb as Sanders’: Donald Trump. Unlike Sanders, I assume Trump knows better.