You guys—with your thoughtful, witty and relevant comments—have made me thankful I took up blogging. My (considerable) experience with the mainstream media suggests that you meet a much lower class of people there. Let me give you an example.
Once upon a time I wrote a Forbes column drawing an analogy between protectionism (which discriminates on the basis of national origin) and racism (which discriminates, of course, on the basis of race). (Of course the analogy isn’t perfect. For example, racism can be a solitary hobby, whereas protectionism by its nature forces other people to discriminate as well.) There were many responses, of which my favorite was Pat Buchanan’s screed containing both some hilariously misguided economics and a paragraph I’ve had posted on my office door ever since:
Now I do not know what parents pay to send their kids to the University of Rochester. But if the philosophical imbecility of Landsburg is representative of the faculty, it is too much.
Shortly afterward, I was scheduled to appear on John Gibson’s program on Fox News, where the following exchange took place:
This, in turn, led to a flurry of email. To give you the full flavor, and so as not to bias the sample, I am appending every single email I received on this subject, excepting only one relatively positive note from my mother.
Am watching you on Fox They are really scraping the bottom of the barrel now.
Seen you on FOX, once again I see just one more brain dead liberal asshole. You are so full of shit it is amazing you can fit in your skin. You want to talk racism you are the biggest racist by trying to spin this bull. It is a complete shame that our educators in this country has gotten so stupid and full of bull! YOU ARE JUST A PLAIN FUCKING IDIOT – DON’T LIKE THE LANGUAGE? THEY ARE THE ONLY WORDS STRONG ENOUGH TO DESCRIBE YOUR BULLSHIT!
I watched your intview on Foxnews today. Other than appalled by your comparison of buying ‘American’ to racism, I was intrigued.
I was listening to your argument and I tried to understand your point. I have one question. Do you hate America?
Although it is a simple idea, as I am a simpleton, I can honestly say that I love America. I love the land, the people, and the fundamental ideas on which it was founded.
I would like you hear you say it. I bet you cannot. And I understand your point.
“Professor”: Just watched your performance on Fox News. Your theory that “protectionists” who support buying American products are racially biased is ludicrous…..so much so that I had a really good laugh. Don’t you liberal eggheads have anything better to do than dream up stupid ideas just to get published, protect your tenure, and get “face time” on television? It makes me sick to know that people like you are poisoning the minds of impressionable young adults. The time is coming when financial support will dry up for “institutions of higher learning” like Rochester and you will be out of a job. Then you can move to Juarez and take a job away from one of your fellow Americans.
Dear Mr. Landsburg,
I could see by the zealot’s flame reflected in your eyes that you believed every word you said on Fox news Friday.
Would you have any compunction to feel a bit racist if, all of a sudden, the University administration ‘off-shored’ your tenured position based solely on the theory of protectionism / racism you put forth? There are plenty of people not of these shores who may be interested to know that you would step aside and yield to them in the spirit of fair play.
Kurt Vonnegut had theories as well.
I am occasionally amazed at the lengths to which people will go for recognition. For some it’s poking holes in unusual place around the body. For others, they provide a canvas of bad art. In academics, it is making absurd statements and arriving at outlandish conclusions. This has become so mundane surprises are few. However, sir, you have exceeded all expectations with you Buy America theory. That must have taken an entire semester of idleness and mind wandering. Congratulations, you are a credit to what
passes for education.
May I recommend an excellent book? Basic Economics by Dr. Thomas Sowell will provide an excellent starting foundation for understanding the issues. The contact list indicates you are a visiting professor. I have written recommending your invitation be revoked until you can display a modicum of knowledge about the subject. One can only hope you are never offered tenure.
I suspect, sadly, you are the perfect can candidate.
P.S. Now I am simple beside myself. The irony of someone concerned about “Economic Racism having a “whitelist” in order to avoid spam is just too much. I almost wish I lived in Rochester so as to experience the theater of the absurd you classes must be.
Dear Dr. Landsburg,
I caught the end of your discussion with Mr. Gibson on Fox News this afternoon I’m still not all together sure whether it is immoral for me to buy American made goods or whether it is immoral for me to refuse to buy goods made in other countries or whether it matters at all. In any event I think this argument is long over. I think it is fairly clear that everyone is going to buy the cheapest one wherever it is made.
I will admit my economic paradigm is still stuck in the “if it says ‘made it Japan’ it is junk and countries gain wealth by manufacturing
goods from raw materials.” I don’t know how long we can last selling things to each other but I’ll admit if the Chery is any good I’ll
probably buy one whether it’s made by Chinese slave labor or not. That little moral conundrum won’t bother me at all. After all, the fact that my clothing is made by children chained to their cutting and sewing tables doesn’t bother me now.
Be that as it may I am getting quite tired of references to Southern sheriffs and Southern politicians and Southerners in general trampling over the rights of black people in the past. That requires a distinction between de facto and de jure racial segregation that the Warren Court was able to make with a straight face but no one with a moral compass could argue before the Lord Almighty.
Might I remind you that in 1967 and 1968 all the race riots took place outside the South. That would tend to indicate that all was not well west of the Mississippi and north of the Ohio. Whatever the problems down here might have been they seem to have been on their way toward resolution by that time and still ignored in more enlightened parts of the country.
Also I’d like to point out that Brown was a Kansas case. Kansas – bleeding Kansas – is not a Southern state though it was from about 1855 on the site of pitched battles between armies from bands of men from Mississippi and New England over a nonexistent slave. The black population – the Exodusters – came in after the Civil War and were treated much as they had been in the old Confederacy. As second class citizens who should have gone somewhere else.
Bigotry is not confined to people who talk funny. Even New Yorkers.
I watch FOX from time to time just to see if any of the guest they have stand up to the host. I applaud you. Its funny how certain people tend to distort the Bible or the Declaration of Independence in an attempt to make people think a certain way (I’m a Sergeant in the Army so I know what it’s like not to be a free thinker). I don’t think the day will ever come when United States will ever be United, I went to Iraq and I witnessed first hand how the Iraqis live, it’s no better then any ghetto we have here in the States. I have deployed to other countries as well and saw the same thing. We bomb and kill then turn around a give the country we destroyed reparations.
My only question to you is, if we can’t take care of our needy here in the US how is it possible to share our so called wealth with the rest of the nation?
Again thanks for making my day, and be safe you may have made some enemies.
With all due respect, it is my personal opinion that you are anti-American pond scum. But you have a right to your opinion. This
notwithstanding, I will pledge $100 for a one way ticket for you to leave this horrible, dispicable country that you hate so much. As long as you promise not to come back.
Mr. Steven Landsburg:
Your recent anti-American naive remarks published in Forbes propaganda journal and clarified by The American Conservative have prompted many Americans, including myself, to form a coalition with the goal of having you fired and replaced by a slant-eyed chink from Asia or a dot-head from India. The object being to cut off your paycheck.
As the famous saying has it: “You preach it, you practice it. Either put up or shut up.” We intend to make sure you practice what you preach by having you fired so that your paycheck is cutoff and that you are replaced by a slant-eye or dot-head. We have no intentions of joining your Communist manure pile. We intend to shovel it out.
To begin, we are now looking for any scandals that may be associated with you. Scandals sell newpapers.
All in all, I’d rather be blogging.