July 26, 2012 in Uncategorized
(Los Alamitos, 7/26/2013) You can’t accuse our Thursday columnist of shying away from controversial or complex issues.
In today’s column (s)he raises some interesting questions and possibilities, then brings it all right home to Los Al:
by Highlands Guy: I’ve seen this on buttons, and billboards, and touted by all sorts of groups for a very long time. And at times, I must say, I did not support those I heard it from, basically because I was not in agreement with other philosophies that they put forth.
Folks have many reasons for promoting “Buy American:”
- Kids supporting some ideas hat they learned in school.
- A labor union not wanting to lose their grip on local jobs.
- A Congressman using it in a campaign speech.
The older I get, and the more I read, and as my perspective evolves, the more I support the phrase, Buy American. But I have also come to the realization that it is an intricate tune and should be looked at with an educated eye.
What does it mean?
At the very least one should chose a definition that is consistent with their personal realities. With supply chains spread the world over, and a history of failed “protectionism” policies, we could simply say that “Buy American” will incorporate products that Americans can purchase, produced by job functions within our borders, where most of the raw materials are local, and where much of the profit is retained by companies owned by U. S. citizens within our borders.
Unfortunately, this definition would certainly have to be broadened to include such requirements as:
- the origin of the investors
- where profits are reinvested
- controls on a free-market economy
- allowing American customers the freedom to purchase the best product at the best price
- perhaps even the citizenship of the worker on the line.
One could surely carry out the equation to the N’th degree in trying to define exactly what we are talking about.
In the automotive world the definition of an “American” part, for instance, is related to where the majority of the item is assembled as well as the percentage of the item that is sourced locally (read, from a US based company). And before you make assumptions, know that every auto maker in the U.S. is heavily affected by these provisions. Another ripple that you may want to consider are local jobs that support our economy from companies with headquarter in Belgium…for instance.
Think also about how the government intrudes with programs primarily because they take a more global view on all sorts of things. But there may be unintended consequences.
NAFTA has made it easier to support our friends on our Southern border, but has eased the way for foreign products to compete in the US market place. We can also obtain cheaper clothing from (Indonesia) Kohl’s, less expensive papayas from (Mexico) Sprout’s, and a better deal on fuel from (Iraq) Arco. But what is the real price to our economy?
So, what is it that we’re really talking about, how do we support it, and what are the consequences? We’re talking making stuff here, from cutting down trees, to powering the plants on local oil, to local customer service operators , to local parts sourcing, to spending the profits on other locally made products. Support could include tax incentives, import duties, and fewer, not more government regulations. The consequences used to be, and could be, as simple as just more freedom to take chances and job creation.
How might this all translate to Los Alamitos? Try these on:
- If you’re buying new uniforms for the LAPD or the Public Works folks, make sure they’re made here.
- Require contractors and sub-contractors doing business with the city to purchase/install only U.S. produced products.
- When repairing city-owned vehicles or machinery (pool heaters, sprinklers etc), inquire about the origin of the replacement parts.
- Look into the origin of computer related hardware and software purchases.
- Mandate that 85% of the city run investments and accounts (retirement included) are in U.S. companies.
- Make sure the 4th of July JFTB celebration fireworks not foreign.
The list could go on and on.
All that being said, sometimes it comes down to the question, “Will we choose to pay more for a product in support of long-term U.S. economic policies, or not?”
It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America.
-Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
…And that’s just the way I see it.