Why Should Foreign Investors Be Allowed to Gobble up U.S. Real Estate?

Is the bipartisan popular political paradigm slowly changing in favor of protectionism over “free trade”?

Via the New York Times:

After a Chinese billionaire with plans to create a wind farm bought up more than 130,000 acres of Texas land, some of it near a U.S. Air Force base, the state responded with a ban on such infrastructure projects by those with direct ties to China.

Now, a Republican state senator is proposing to broaden the ban, seeking to stop Chinese citizens and companies from buying land, homes or any other real estate in Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott announced his support last month: “I will sign it,” he wrote without equivocation on Twitter

Tensions have been rising between the United States and China over a range of issues, including international trade, recognition of Taiwan and the war in Ukraine. On Friday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken abruptly canceled a planned weekend trip to China — the first by a U.S. secretary of state since 2018 — after the discovery of what U.S. officials described as a Chinese surveillance balloon drifting over the American heartland. (On Saturday, a U.S. fighter jet shot down the balloon off the coast of South Carolina.)

Real estate developers get rich while the prices get driven up on middle-class Americans because the supply is squeezed. Meanwhile, Chinese Communist Party apparatchiks are permitted to launder their money through U.S. real estate while adding a nice piece of property to their portfolio with cash they stole from some poor Chinese son of a b***h.

This is how the world works, but it’s not how it has to work. Seeing something wrong with this picture is not Marxism or whatever.

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The prevailing political philosophy that underpins the Chinese real estate phenomenon is called neoliberalism. Although neoliberalism is often construed with Social Justice™, it’s actually a mostly economically-focused political ideology that promotes the deconstruction of the nation-state to achieve the free flow of capital across borders. Facilitating the integration of the global economy, the theory goes, produces a “democratic peace” and mutual economic prosperity of all populations. Part of the process of integration includes removing any barriers to foreign investment.

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Historically — although populist Trump did a lot to change this ideological configuration — some of the most influential neoliberal advocates have been nominally “conservative” business-friendly D.C. think tanks. The likes of the Cato Institute and Koch-funded Americans For Prosperity, which recently declared war on Trump and MAGAism, probably largely due to his more protectionist bent, fall into this category.

But it’s unclear what is exactly “conservative” about allowing foreigners to gobble up American real estate. What is this in the service of “conserving”?

Multinational corporations — which not coincidentally fund the activities of the neoliberal think tanks cited above — benefit most from the dissolution of the nation-state, as it enables them to conduct business without the onerous burdens of differing customs regulations, tariffs, etc. It also allows the offshoring of production, especially manufacturing, to undeveloped economies to take advantage of cheap labor costs.

Auto factory workers in Bangladesh cost a lot less than those in Michigan.

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