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An American Trapped Abroad Teaches Us What Patriotism Means

07/02/2013 04:17 pm 16:17:54 | Updated Sep 01, 2013

As we celebrate the 4th of July, the story of an American citizen trapped overseas tells us a lot about the meaning of patriotism. I'm not talking about Ed Snowden.

I'm talking about Chip Starnes. He's the CEO of a Florida-headquartered company that manufactures medical devices in China.

Last month, Starnes went to his factory outside Beijing planning to lay off 30 Chinese workers. But the workers had plans of their own =- they held him hostage until he gave them money.

As Starnes tells it, local officials coerced him into paying a ransom to every worker, not just the ones he was planning to fire. (Can you imagine an American politician telling a businessman to give workers severance? But I digress...)

Starnes paid up, and now that he's safely home in Florida he says he's upset Beijing officials didn't do anything to help him. Apparently the clueless CEO thought he could dial 911 and have the Chinese Communist Party police come and enforce the American Bill of Rights.

Raised on a diet of "We are the World" videos and bastardized "free trade" globalization mumbo-jumbo, Starnes didn't think twice before turning his back on the country of his birth and entrusting his body and capital to a strange government in a foreign nation because it offered the opportunity for higher profits.

So much for patriotism.

David Ricardo would not approve. He's the British stockbroker whose theory of "comparative advantage" (formulated in 1815) is invoked with religious fervor to justify outsourcing U.S. manufacturing to China, Bangladesh and other places where you can literally get away with murder. Ricardo's ur-text of global free trade says nations should specialize in what they make best and trade with others for everything else.

But the globalists' reading of Ricardo is selective, as Chip Starnes learned the hard way. Ricardo assumed that while goods will move across borders capital will not. Why not? Take it away, David (emphasis added):

"Experience, however, shows, that the fancied or real insecurity of capital, when not under the immediate control of its owner, together with the natural disinclination which every man has to quit the country of his birth and connections, and entrust himself with all his habits fixed, to a strange government and new laws, check the emigration of capital."

And Ricardo didn't think this loyalty to "country of birth" a bad thing. He goes on (emphasis added):

"These feelings, which I should be sorry to see weakened, induce most men of property to be satisfied with a low rate of profits in their own country, rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations."

What a difference a couple of centuries makes. In today's world, rather than bemoaning the loss of fond feelings for fellow countrymen, Western leaders and captains of industry proudly proclaim themselves 'citizens of the world' with all it implies, patriotism is considered a dirty word or, at best, boob bait for the rubes, and 'the best and the brightest' among us strive to "imagine there's no countries" (as John Lennon put it). In such a deracinated culture, it's no wonder Starnes -- and GE, Microsoft, Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs -- sink money into a Chinese rat hole rather than invest in the country that suckled them.

Starnes admits there is a "dirty underside to doing business in China." But asked if he would continue doing business there, he said "going back to China is a must. We've got millions of dollars of equipment there. We've got a large investment there." So while his body is free, his capital remains hostage.

Can we now expect Starnes and those like him to do everything they can to bring their wealth home to their country of birth, satisfied with a lower rate of profit rather than entrusting their fortunes to strange governments in foreign nations? Don't hold your breath.

As you read this, corporate and Wall Street elites are working hand in glove with the Obama administration to create an enforceable, worldwide code of law, beyond the reach of any nation's courts, in order to protect investments anywhere on the planet.

That is the goal of the TransPacific Partnership and the TransAtlantic Partnership "free trade" agreements. Administration negotiators have said these deals are about more than "trade" -- they're about establishing global rules for investment and economic integration. They want to make the world safe for outsourcing.

If they succeed, the America of our birth, an independent, self-governing people, imperfect, yet free to determine our own destiny, will be a thing of the past.

And that is why they must be stopped.