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Wealth that is not leaving America

By Bruce Walker
web posted March 14, 2005

Are we exporting our wealth overseas? The factories which churn out merchandise seem to be drifting out of our borders and into other lands. But any thought that wealth is leaving America or the means of making wealth is vanishing from our land grossly misunderstands what wealth production means today.

Perhaps a good analogy is the military of today and the military of the past. What makes our military so good? Smart or brilliant weapons. Very well trained servicemen. Our mentality to improvise and to adapt quickly. Our myriad individual approaches to victory which flow from our highly individualistic society.

The People's Republic of China has a huge army of tough soldiers which America could defeat as easily as we defeated the huge, tough army of Saddam Hussein in Operation Desert Storm. Quality counts. Quality, when quality is increasingly information, means liberty. China is not free and as long as it is not free, then it economy will not be robust.

This is also, by the way, the reason that conservatives and other normal people are winning the polemical battle in cyberspace. The galleons of the Leftist Armada cannot compete with the lithe, accurate ships of Freedom. Wealth buys many things, but it cannot buy freedom: it can only buy slavery.

What compounds the advantages of America is not just that it is the land of the free and the home of the brave (bravery being the actual manifestation in difficult times of the state of freedom), but that America embraces practical freedom. We are a land full of diverse cultures and a country filled with men working in garages making ideas into huge explosions of wealth.

Wealth is no more moving overseas because factories are moving across our borders than America is losing its edge in science and technology because many more people receive rigorous training in science and technology outside of America than inside of America. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union routinely turned out many times more scientists and engineers, all very intelligent, than the United States, but the Soviet Union was hopelessly behind America in science and technology (and that is even despite KGB and GRU industrial espionage on a massive scale.)

The groupthink so common in many nations with full legal and political rights is almost as debilitating as formal suppression of ideas. How many "things" were invented in America? It boggles the mind: airplanes, telegraph, submarines, motion pictures, telephones, mass production, interchangeable parts and the internet itself. None of these required an army of experts or a vast pool of existing bullion or even vast natural resources. These things, like so many others created first in America, required legal and psychological liberty.

There is no reason - no reason in the world - why almost every nation is not as wealthy as America is today. While America has some advantages over different nations, it also has some characteristics that are disadvantages to other nations. Germany, Sweden and Japan - all ethnically homogenous - have no suffered the divisions which plagued Lebanon, India and Iraq. Yet America has drawn strength from the ethnic differences of its people, being enriched by African contributions in music and in sports, Scottish contributions in invention and education, Italian contributions in art and cuisine, German contributions in science and in agriculture, Japanese contributions in social organization and aesthetics - and so forth.

So all the factories transplanted into other lands will not affect the real American wealth at all. Quite the contrary, by freeing more Americans to do what Bill Gates and Sam Walton have done, devolving the almost robotic manufacture of goods outside of America will enrich our land. The goal of Americans, of course, is to make the rest of the world enjoy our freedom. Over time, as we win this battle, the location of manufacturing facilities in a particular place on our planet will be as meaningless as the location of a factory within a medium sized town.

Information is wealth today. The quality of information is the measurement of that wealth. The formal and informal liberty of the American mind and its constant use by hundreds of millions of Americans maximizes that qualitative advantage through billions of unfettered daily interpersonal transactions - the market of markets. That wealth grows and as the rest of the world rises out of modest poverty, our wealth will grow even greater.

Bruce Walker is a contributing editor with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.

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