For creatives, protectionism is fine when it suits them

Tim Newman at White Sun of the Desert says:

Note that the strongest proponents of open borders work in professions which are closed shops, hence immune from the influx of cheap labour. If Polish accountants, Portuguese doctors, and Romanian law firms could compete freely for business in London, we’d see a wholesale change in attitude from the ruling classes.

Something like this happened in Australia — Aussie film companies started bringing in US acting talent for movies and TV mini-series. And the local actors and directors and writers went nuts. The started screaming loudly that this was awful, it was cultural imperialism, it would ruin the local dramatic arts community, it needed government action to stop it,and so on.

And guess what happened? The government started limiting the number of US actors from working on Australian films and TV shows. The film workers’ unions have also for many years often refused to work on a film if they judged that there weren’t enough local actors cast.

The government also set a limit on how much foreign content can be shown by the TV channels. And it even set restrictions on the ads that could be shown on TV — foreign-made ads were suppressed. And local content mandates were also applied to radio stations that played music.

Here’s a list from 2012 of local content requirements in various countries.

Even in these days of YouTube and Netflix and a younger generation that barely watches TV, Australia — and many other countries — still have local content laws in place. So legislation to protect the local ‘worker’ has always been fine with ‘creative’ types for decades as long as it benefits the local creatives, even if that means foisting a shoddier product on the consumer which is  not what the consumer wants.

So whatever your views on steel tariffs, it’s hard to take the arty-farties seriously when they tell you that tariffs are bad. When it suits them, they’ll demand them.

And can you imagine if academics were being replaced in their droves by less qualified eastern Europeans with mediocre degrees? They’d scream the house down, perhaps rightly so. But most of them (except some of the hard leftists) are happy with going into Waitrose and buying food that comes from all over the world. They take that to be self-evidently a good thing. The consequences for local apple growers never enters their mind. That a local product might be better, even if more expensive, also never enters their mind. It’s their right as a consumer to make their own choices about what they buy. But try that argument on their own professsion and you’ll get a very different reaction.

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