Farewell to the G20 Freeloaders
In the 1930s, Saudi Aramco was simply Aramco, an American joint venture between California Standard Oil and Texas Oil with a concession from the Saudi government to drill for oil. After more than a decade of searching fruitlessly, they finally discovered the largest supply the world had ever seen.
Their reward? In 1950, the king of Saudi Arabia threatened to nationalize the industry unless he received half of the profits. Nationalization or similar coercion had happened in many other countries, including Venezuela and Iran. But it didn't stop there. In the 1970s, Saudi Arabia used its oil profits and legal muscle to purchase the rest of Aramco.
This past expropriation is why the debate about "offshore drilling" and "foreign oil dependency" is geopolitical nonsense. We did drill offshore, all over the world, and discovered and developed oil wells and reserves that would have supplied the planet with cheap and available energy and the U.S. with billions in tax revenues. Then, after the hard work was done, local governments tore up our contracts and took control of an industry worth tens of trillions of dollars.
And wouldn't it be the Saudis that are dependent upon us? The 1991 Gulf War was fought not just to liberate Kuwait but also to protect Saudi Arabian oil fields. Without our military protection, every dictator in the Middle East and North Africa would be after those wells and the region would be bloodier than Sierra Leone . Yet instead of offering to share the burden, the nation diverts its oil profits to anti-American groups like Hamas and CAIR. To call Saudi Arabia a freeloader is being kind.
Although the U.S. has been accused of being "downright mean " and "guided by fear" by our new first lady, the truth is that we are generous to a fault. Any illegal alien that can circumvent a border check will immediately receive education, health care and, any other social service available and can become a part of our advanced economy under protection from our criminal justice system. No other country does this, partly because no country can afford to.
Most of the illegal immigrants that come here are unskilled and poorly educated and incapable of earning more than $5-10/hr. Even if their paltry earnings were taxed at 100%, it wouldn't cover the salary of a single teacher, police officer, public defender, doctor, judge, or prison guard. The cumulative shortfall to governments and industry is in the trillions of dollars and borne by American citizens and legal immigrants that follow the rules and pay their taxes.
The most terrible costs are not economic but human. Despite our compassion, illegal aliens murder 4,200 Americans a year. Illegal alien drunk drivers kill another 4,700. More than 267,000 illegal aliens are incarcerated in U.S. prisons. And these statistics don't take into account the recent surge in cross-border violence.
While Mexico flouts international law by failing to police its own border, it also earns billions from remittances and billions more from profits on drugs and human smuggling. Yet the U.S. rewards the country with favored trade status, and it is our third largest trading partner and remains a top tourist destination. Mexico is a freeloader.
The most maddening aspect of freeloaders is that instead of being grateful for their unearned welfare, they are often the first to complain about their situation and lay the blame elsewhere. And this brings us to the land of self-delusion that lies across the Atlantic.
For decades Americans protected Europe from Soviet assault by putting more than 50,000 soldiers on the front lines and spending hundreds of billions of dollars to blunt the USSR's considerable advantages in both technology and manpower. These sacrifices allowed Europe to live in peace and prosperity for decades and still permit its citizens and firms to conduct business in the many other countries around the world that also enjoy U.S. protection.
But when the United States was attacked and activated the NATO alliance, our continental allies were nowhere to be found. As of today, the five largest nations in Europe have 11,300 troops total in Afghanistan, most of which are instructed to avoid combat. And NATO's role in Iraq is limited to training, as if the war was not yet begun!
Europe still clings desperately to the belief that it occupies the international moral high ground, despite a hundred years of historical evidence to the contrary. The region responsible for two world wars and three genocides in the last century is now either unwilling or unable to provide any significant assistance in the defense of civilization from the existential threat of Islamic extremists. Europe is a a freeloader and a tragic warning to others.
People freeload simply because they can. From a cynical perspective, freeloaders are the most productive members of society. They are able to shift their costs to others and thereby receive the greatest benefit for the least effort. They may profess ignorance, weakness, or compassion as needed, but most fully understand their situation and what needs to be done to maintain it.
The real question is why America tolerates freeloaders. It seems that every other country in the world is allowed, even expected, to act in its own national interest. Meanwhile, America, the greatest economic and military power and lone superpower, is obliged to shoulder unreasonable burdens and is unfairly chastised when it acts on its own to solve global problems.
Yet if the question of whether America should continue to support these freeloaders were ever seriously put to the voter, the response would be deafening. No principle is more embedded in the American psyche than that of taking one's share of responsibility. There is no constituency for supporting the lazy and apathetic, either at home or abroad.
My guess is that the America public would say: "Goodbye, G20. You have proven that you have no obligations to us and we have none to you. Our markets and borders are closed and our military protection is withdrawn. Perhaps in the future we will entertain new trade agreements and mutual protection pacts with countries that are more willing to share the work as well as the rewards. But for now, the reign of the freeloaders is over."