This November will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yet, many living among us today would eagerly help rebuild it. Take Fox News’ Howard Kurtz as an example. His Thursday rant against Burger King’s choice to move its corporate headquarters to Canada and benefit from lower taxes brims with Soviet-style angst over escaping slaves. He writes:
70 U.S. companies have engaged in similar maneuvers, known by the stupefyingly boring name of “inversions,” and the media have collectively yawned, relegating the debate to the inside business pages…
Why have journalists and commentators failed to bang the drum over this outrage?
Outrage? What’s so outrageous about people voting with their feet?
The difference between corporate tax inversions and immigration from East to West Berlin is a matter of degree. In either case, those moving have sought escape to freer pastures.
Like a good Soviet, Kurtz longs to erect a legal wall boxing people in. Because nothing conveys the prosperous effect of a nation’s policies like barring folks from leaving.
Despite his portrayal of an ambivalent media and impotent government, Kurtz should recognize that his tyrannical desire to herd people into oppressive jurisdictions retains plenty of support. It wasn’t that long ago that the National Labor Relations Board harassed Boeing for moving part of its operations to a right-to-work state. More recently, Walgreens succumbed to similar pressure applied by the Obama administration and chose not to proceed with a proposed inversion.
This should be remembered come November, when politicians and media figures feign reverent remembrance of the Berlin Wall’s collapse. Unless they fully support the freedom of association, including the freedom to vote with your feet against restrictive regulations or debilitating taxes, they have no business pretending they’re better than Soviets.