Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Local Hero Protectionism

In the days before the Industrial Revolution, when the vast majority of people lived in rural areas and rarely traveled far from home...everyone in the village had a good chance of being the best at something...a local hero. You could easily be the tallest, strongest, richest, prettiest person around without being particularly tall or strong or rich or pretty.

But the migration to urban areas coupled with improved communication and literacy rates raised the bar considerably. Odds were slim you were the richest person in a city of 100,000 or more. Odds are slimmer still now that you're better looking than Brad Pitt.

America, though, has done a remarkable job of keeping its local heroes safe from foreign competition. While the rest of the world watches Formula One racing and cheers on David Beckham, we have crappy NASCAR and American Football. We may import good foreign movies or TV shows, but they are almost always recast with American stars.

Foreigners occasionally gain fame in America (The Beatles, Yao Ming), but most foreigners famous in America are either dead (Winston Churchill) or villains that our local heroes fight (Osama bin Laden).

How long will our heroes be able to compete safely in our little village?

How long before the heroes of the global village come knocking?

Which living foreigner is most admired by Americans today?

Simon Cowell from American Idol, maybe? He's really playing the traditional villain role.

Tony Blair? Popular once perhaps, but now really just Bush's unpopular poodle now.

I'm sure there's someone obvious I'm forgetting...I just can't come up with their name.


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