Stevie Wonder, Fareed Zakaraia, Incurious Americans, and Free Trade

When you believe in things

That you don’t understand

And you suffer:

Superstition is the way

   –Stevie Wonder, “Superstition ,” (Natural Wonder) 1973

Is it possible for something to be shocking but not particularly surprising?  I submit for your consideration a candidate for just such a distinction.

Writing in new-ish The Post American World, Fareed Zakaria notes:

“The 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Survey showed a remarkable increase worldwide in posiitive views about free trade, markets, and democracy.  Large majorieties in countries form China and Germany to Bangladesh and Nigeria said that growing trade ties between countries were good.  Of the forty-seven countries polled, however, the one that came in dead last in terms of support for free trade was the United States (emphasis mine).  In the five years that the survey has been done, no country has seen as great a drop-off as the United States.”

Apparently, not only do we not want to trade with furiners, we don’t like their companies, either.  73 percent in India, 75 percent in Bangladesh, 70 percent in Brazil, and 82 percent in Nigeria have  positive views of foreign companies.  The number for the U.S. is 45%, which places us in the bottom five.

Gracious.  Now I know why I got so riled up over the kerfuffle Sen. Obama caused last week when he idly speculated that it might be nice if a few more of his countrymen spoke a language other than their own.   It’s not just that we’re becoming closed-minded, incurious, and borderline jingoistic.   All that makes America a less pleasant place to live than it might be.  But what really gets me is that we will literally pay for these attitudes by an ever dropping lack of competitiveness and living standards. 

It is not patriotic to believe that American does everything the right way without having any understanding of any “other way.”  It’s not even nationalistic.  It’s superstitious, pure and simple.


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