A couple weeks ago, Barney Frank wittily mocked suggestions that requiring large financial firms to repay a portion of their federal subsidy would cause an economically-destructive exodus of talent from the financial industry. Veronique de Rugy at National Review huffed, "This anti-capitalist and anti-wealth mentality is scary and very anti-American." To which I snarkily replied, "Hey, you know what else is anti-American? Being named 'Veronique de Rugy.'"
Now Tom G. Palmer of the Cato institute objects:
On the one hand, Chait and Yglesias [who also mocked de Rugy's comment] just might think that people who are not from America should shut up, in which case they’re idiots. Or maybe they’re trying to be ironic, in which case they’re idiots. Or, if that’s too harsh, either they’re dim, or they’re dim.
Given that Tom G. Palmer is a self-described friend of de Rugy's, a proprietor of a blog entitled "personal website and weblog of the libertarian thinker," and a man who insists on using his middle initial, his failure to appreciate the joke was probably overdetermined. So, to briefly explain: no, I have no problem whatsoever with people from other countries commenting on American politics. I do find the tendency to describe any deviation from the right-wing agenda as "un-American" or "anti-American" to be cheap demagoguery. Ideas should be evaluated on their merit, not their "American-ness." And when that particular sort of cheap demagoguery is being employed by somebody named "Veronique de Rugy," yes, I think it's kind of funny.
Now, I should point out that my little quip about de Rugy was just the prelude to a more substantive takedown that I'd be eager to to see her or one of her defenders attempt to engage. De Rugy insisted that anything that might reduce salaries in the financial industry could have devastating consequences: "if Mister Frank really believes that chasing well-paid employees to go elsewhere is a winning strategy and won't have any impact on the industry, then I suggest that next time he is sick he goes to a hospital where doctors are poorly paid and see how he feels about that." I found it interesting that de Rugy couldn't directly defend the necessity of massive Wall Street salaries, which seem to have added massive negative value to the American economy. Instead she made an analogy to medicine, but even that analogy was highly flawed -- doctors in France, her home country, make far less money, yet produce medical care that's of sufficiently high quality that even American libertarians who experience it concede its superiority. So entirely apart from de Rugy's belief that it's anti-American to make Wall Street pay back some of its subsidy, the whole rationale undergirding her epithet fails at multiple levels.