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  1. #1

    "Buy American" is UN-American?

    So I was thinking about the 'Buy American' campaigns of Reagan's 80's, as exemplified by Harley Davidson:
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa032.html
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHE5ym6ShkA

    I was thinking how during an economic crisis, it's a bit strange not seeing those campaigns this time around, with how it was in late 80s and early 90s.

    After a bit of searching around I stumbled on this:
    http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServ...m_buy_american

    So, which do you find to be a better opinion for America on "Buy American"? The Reagan, buy American to support our industry or Ayn Rand, buying American is against fundamentals of America via the free market?


    To those who do not trust or can't view ayanrand.org, here are the contents. Not doing the same to the Reagan link as even this makes the post absurdly long.

    By Harry Binswanger, Ph.D.

    According to a recent poll, 80% of Americans think it their patriotic duty to give preference to American-made products. But "Buy American" is wholly un-American in both its economics and its philosophy.


    America's distinction among all the nations of the world is that it enshrined political and economic freedom. Although we have departed greatly from our original laissez-faire principles, to the whole world America still symbolizes capitalism. Americanism means understanding that a free market, domestically and internationally, is the only path to general prosperity.


    International trade is not mortal combat but a form of cooperation, a means of expanding worldwide production. The benefits of international trade flow to both trading partners, even when one of the countries is more efficient across the board. This is the "Law of Comparative Advantage," covered in every economics textbook. Free trade does not destroy but creates employment.


    The lucrative workings of free markets do not depend upon lines drawn on a map. The economic advantages of international commerce are the same as those of interstate, intercity, and crosstown commerce. And if we kept crosstown trade accounts, the "trade deficits" that would appear would be as meaningless as are our international "trade deficits." Fact confirms theory: the U.S. ran a trade "deficit" practically every year of the nineteenth century, the time of our most rapid economic progress.


    Philosophically, Americanism means individualism. Individualism holds that one's personal identity, moral worth, and inalienable rights belong to one as an individual, not as a member of a particular race, class, nation, or other collective.


    But collectivism is the premise of "Buy American." In purchasing goods, we are expected to view ourselves and the sellers not as individuals, but as units of a nation. We are expected to accept lower quality or more expensive goods in the name of alleged benefits to the national collective.
    Most "Buy American" advocates are motivated by misplaced patriotism. But for some the motive is a collectivist hostility towards foreigners. This xenophobic attitude is thoroughly un-American; it is plain bigotry.


    Giving preference to American-made products over German or Japanese products is the same injustice as giving preference to products made by whites over those made by blacks. Economic nationalism, like racism, means judging men and their products by the group from which they come, not by merit.
    Collectivism reflects the notion that life is "a zero sum game," that we live in a dog-eat-dog world, where one man's gain is another man's loss. On this premise, everyone has to cling to his own herd and fight all the other herds for a share of a fixed, static, supply of goods. And that is exactly the premise of the "Buy American" campaign. "It's Japan or us," is the implication. If Japan is getting richer, then we must be getting poorer.
    But individualism recognizes that wealth is produced, not merely appropriated, and that man's rise from the cave to the skyscraper demonstrates that life is not a zero-sum gamenot where men are free to seek progress.


    Accordingly, individualism holds that the interests of men do not conflictprovided we are speaking of self-supporting individuals who pay for what they get. Where there is free trade, the exchange of value for value, one man's gain is another man's gain.


    The same harmony of men's interests applies in the international arena. One nation's enrichment raises the standard of living of all other nations with which it trades. Which nation adds more to your standard of living: Japan or Bangladesh? And how would you fare if Japan were suddenly reduced to the economic level of Bangladesh?


    The patriotic advocates of buying American would be shocked to learn that the economic theory underlying their viewpoint is Marxism. In describing the influx of Japanese products and investment, they don't use the Marxist terminology of "imperialism" and "exploitation," but the basic idea is the same: capitalistic acts are destructive and free markets will impoverish you. It's the same anti-capitalist nonsense whether it is used by leftists to attack the United States for its commerce with Latin America or by supposed patriots to attack Japan for its commerce with the United States.


    Contrary to Marxism, one does not benefit from the poverty or incompetence of others. It is in your interest that other menin every countrybe smart, ambitious, and productive, not stupid, lazy, or incompetent. Would you be better off if Thomas Edison had been dim-witted? Nothing is changed if we substitute a Japanese inventor for Edison.


    More and better production is good for all men, everywhere. What's good for Toyota is good for America. That's individualism, and that's Americanism.
    Government interference with free trade is un-American. Sacrificing one's standard of living in order to subsidize inefficient domestic producers is un-American. The tribal fear of foreigners is un-American. Resentment at others' success is un-American.
    A patriotic American acts as a capitalist and an individualist: he buys the best, wherever it may be found.

  2. #2
    Scarab Lord namelessone's Avatar
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    Any kind of "buy local", "buy American" or in my case "buy Canadian" is a populist bullshit slogans aimed at uneducated overly patriotic morons. Nothing is more harmful to the free market economy then protectionism.
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  3. #3
    The Insane smrund's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Felya420 View Post
    A patriotic American acts as a capitalist and an individualist: he buys the best, wherever it may be found.
    Anyone who does this will quickly find themselves without a job, homeless, and probably in debt/owned by others.

    Free trade is bullshit.
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  4. #4
    Buying american usually means paying more for the same thing. While this is not a bad thing, not everyone can afford to waste money in such a tight economy.

    Buying local on the other hand does not always mean a price increase. In fact you can usually find local small business's with great prices on items and/or services. While the products may or may not be local you are still supporting local american business's.

    I never got into that 'buy american' 'made in the usa' crap. A quality product is just that, no matter where it comes from.

  5. #5
    Stood in the Fire downnola's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tekoix View Post
    Buying american usually means paying more for the same thing. While this is not a bad thing, not everyone can afford to waste money in such a tight economy.
    What if you make the argument that our economy is tight because we don't buy american? Capital is no longer being created in the U.S but is now created in China or other countries that export to us.

  6. #6
    Made in America is for sunshine patriots.
    Last edited by Gaexion Ramza Beoulve; 2011-07-12 at 07:20 AM.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by downnola View Post
    What if you make the argument that our economy is tight because we don't buy american? Capital is no longer being created in the U.S but is now created in China or other countries that export to us.
    I'm going to buy quality, inexpensive products. If they come from another country, so be it. If an American company sells an inferior/overpriced product, that company deserves to fail.

    Once American companies start failing, they'll either disappear or learn how to succeed. Buying local/American does not support the economy -- it weakens it. Once we stop settling for less, businesses will be forced to create a superior product.

  8. #8
    As to be expected, you completely fail at viewing at the ecological point of view...

    While "buy local" etc.. is bad from a free market point of view (we should agree on that) you should have a look on the costs to humanity shipping extremly large amounts around the world... just because building in taiwan and shipping hundreds of thousands units to the US is cheaper in the end price then producing it locally...

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by smrund View Post
    Anyone who does this will quickly find themselves without a job, homeless, and probably in debt/owned by others.

    Free trade is bullshit.
    That's total bullshit, try giving some arguments why that would happen? Protectionism only hurts the overall economy.

    Like Adam Smith says that protectionism is the same as not believing the the division of labour. You should rather make your own shoes, your own food and your own consumer electronics because that somehow makes you better off, even though it will take you ten years to produce them yourself. In reality, you could simply work a month at what you do best, and afford to go buy the shoes, food and electronics from other specialists.

    I'd say 'Buying American' is some patriotic bullshit, but not un-american. It's like corporate charity really.
    Last edited by Diurdi; 2011-07-12 at 08:19 AM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by namelessone View Post
    Any kind of "buy local", "buy American" or in my case "buy Canadian" is a populist bullshit slogans aimed at uneducated overly patriotic morons. Nothing is more harmful to the free market economy then protectionism.
    cheap labor over seas also hurts the market but i guess someone like you who lives in the clouds probably doesnt have to worry about being out of a job >.>
    Tell them that the Lich King is dead...and the World of Warcraft...died with him.

  11. #11
    Buying American helps people in America more then they realize. Money circulates it doesn't magically appear, however when you spend money on products produced overseas by foreign corporations that money leaves the American circulation and the American economy on a whole gets weaker as a result. To put it this way, you work at a Shoe Store, you buy everything at its cheapest potential price regardless of where its made (mostly china and southeast Asia) as a result a factory in your town goes out of business. This results in say 120 people not having money to spend and not buying shoes at your work anymore, your work now needs to downsize, you are fired as a result. Congratulations that is how the economy works on a very simple level and why people tell you to buy American, especially in a shaky economic period.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Notalent View Post
    Buying American helps people in America more then they realize. Money circulates it doesn't magically appear, however when you spend money on products produced overseas by foreign corporations that money leaves the American circulation and the American economy on a whole gets weaker as a result. To put it this way, you work at a Shoe Store, you buy everything at its cheapest potential price regardless of where its made (mostly china and southeast Asia) as a result a factory in your town goes out of business. This results in say 120 people not having money to spend and not buying shoes at your work anymore, your work now needs to downsize, you are fired as a result. Congratulations that is how the economy works on a very simple level and why people tell you to buy American, especially in a shaky economic period.
    You're only focusing on the seen, but ignoring the unseen. You're ignoring all the employment created by the money left over from buying the cheaper product. Are americans better off having simply a pair of shoes, or a pair of shoes and $10 that can be spent elsewhere? Why should the burden of inefficiency of the domestic producer fall on the American consumer?

    The whole point of international Trade is for each nation to export what they're good at and import what they're bad at.
    Actually, the above is the very essence of the division of labour, a milestone in human history that allowed us to prosper beyond hunting for food.
    Last edited by Diurdi; 2011-07-12 at 10:19 AM.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Diurdi View Post
    What about the money that the Americans save by buying cheaper shoes overseas? Americans now have a pair of shoes and left-over money to spend on other things. This actually leaves the society better off than spending money on inefficiently produced products.

    Again, buying more expensive, but same quality, domestic products is pure charity and nothing more.
    You save money that will again go overseas when you continue to buy the cheaper item. The end result remains high imports hurt the economy, while high exports improve it. The fact is eventually that every dollar that leaves the United States is one less dollar that could be helping you in some way, one less dollar someone spends at your job, one less dollar you could be paid, and one less dollar that the federal government can tax to help American citizens. Its is also one more dollar that some other country can use to do the same things I said about America, the economy is very much a give and take system.

  14. #14
    You don't see it because most "American" products aren't built in America anymore. Take what used to be the cornerstone of all those adds, vehicles. Do you really think that Ford, Dodge or Chevy is really built in America anymore? Most of them are assembled in Mexico with Japanese parts. Capitalism and greed have ruined what it is to buy American. A couple months ago I bought a Craftsman vise grip, get home and open it, and it say Made in China on the bottom.

    You want to buy "American," go buy a Subaru. At least those are assembled in America.

  15. #15
    Ok, first off, not all goods are available here. Second, this country grew from exporting goods that weren't available elsewhere (i.e. tabacco and then cotton), and we still do that.

    The issue is that such concepts as "buy American" were from before we had a world market. Much like people that say they only buy American cars, and I then tell them their Chevy was assembled in Mexico from Chinese parts, they look really stupid.

    Now, I could give a crap less about some ecological impact of shipping large amounts of goods (hint: some produce just doesn't grow here easily if at all), but buying locally is a no brainer. It's almost always cheaper. I used to live in Florida and go out to the actual farmer's market where the produce was fresh off the plant that day, and it was much cheaper than a big box mart.

    I could go on a rant about how government taxation and regulation of businesses in the states plus unions are the real reasons, but this post would get too large for most people to read.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Notalent View Post
    You save money that will again go overseas when you continue to buy the cheaper item. The end result remains high imports hurt the economy, while high exports improve it. The fact is eventually that every dollar that leaves the United States is one less dollar that could be helping you in some way, one less dollar someone spends at your job, one less dollar you could be paid, and one less dollar that the federal government can tax to help American citizens. Its is also one more dollar that some other country can use to do the same things I said about America, the economy is very much a give and take system.
    The average American is not better off by having a pair of shoes instead of a pair of shoes and $10. The American producer may be better off because you just donated $10 in charity to the American producer.

    If the Taiwanese are better at knitting sweaters than expensive domestic labour, you should let the Taiwanese do it. Americans can instead focus on something they're actually good at. This way both the Taiwanese and the Americans will be better off.

    You're also forgetting that every dollar recieved by an foreign producer must ultimately be spent in the United States at some point.
    Last edited by Diurdi; 2011-07-12 at 10:55 AM.

  17. #17
    I buy cheapest and don't even look at who made it. I don't give a shit if Target supports homosexuals or China has child labor. It's unfortunate, but I'm on a budget. If I need milk and I know my rent check is coming, I'm getting it from the place with the cheapest price. Period.
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  18. #18
    I try to buy from local owned businesses when possible, but that is hard to do at times. Sometimes there is just too much price difference to justify buying from a local market. But when I can I support my local economy.

    Something about "buying American" though. I owned a Jeep Patriot. It is a well known, American branded vehicle. It was assembled in Japan. One hour north of me, right in the center of Mississippi is a Nissan plant. If you own a Pathfinder there is a decent chance it was assembled in the U.S. They are building a Toyota plant further north in the state. In Alabama there is a huge Mercedes plant. In Ohio there is a Honda plant. At one point the largest Chrysler plant in the world was in Japan and the largest Mitsubishi plant in the world was in California. So which is the more "American" vehicle? The one made in the U.S. by American workers but a foreign brand or the U.S. brand made in another nation by their workers?

    I work for an electronics distributor specializing in 12-volt mobile electronics. One of the brands we carry proudly advertises they are made in the U.S. It is a huge selling point for them. But they recently had some issues with getting their parts from China. All they did was order all the components from China and assembled the final product in the U.S.

    The point is, it is impossible to just "buy American." Buying from local owned businesses helps ensure more of the profit from the companies stays local, but when you buy stuff that says "made in the U.S.," chances are that means just the final step of the process was in the U.S.

  19. #19
    american stuff sucks, this is exemplified through GM

  20. #20
    The Lightbringer Yirrah's Avatar
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    If buying locally can kill the global market, hey, I'm all for that!
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