Made In The U.S.A.

Meaningless Patriotism?

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2009 at 10:36 am

1.6.09: Everywhere I look I see China.

On the radio today was a discussion of the country. In the lobby Newsweek was a story about economic slowdown hitting the region, and how all of their booming growth is now subsiding. It made me feel like maybe I should buy Chinese stuff to help ‘em out. You can read it here.

Then I picked up a months-old Wired and read about Jagdish Bhagwati in a short story called “Keep Free Trade Free.” He got me thinking more about Crystal’s question of “why.” What are the reasons one would only buy American-made goods? There are lots of reasonable pro-globalization arguments. Among them, from the article:

The world isn’t flat. We don’t live in a 2-D world in which all countries compete for the same jobs. For instance, China may never be as innovative as the US, which has a stable venture-capital model and an entrepreneurial culture that promotes creativity. Globalization helps nations discover their unique strengths.

So. Water seeks its level, and China’s level is manufacturing cheap stuff? And that’s fine because we have more important things to do with our workforce? I suppose that makes sense. But isn’t the reality that there are still plenty of out of work workers here who aren’t inclined to be silicon valley innovators or biotech researchers? In an economic downturn, isn’t it sort of my civic duty to buy from people who provide jobs for the citizenry of my society? Even without a recession, isn’t keeping it local good for the local economy inherently?

Isn’t buying American better for a slew of other reasons, too, like green-wise and human rights wise and superpower wise? Wired’s Bhagwati doesn’t necessarily agree, citing that increased free trade brings with it increased democratization which then brings increased regulation and environmental protection. He also says NAFTA-type agreements simply isolate countries and promote regionalism, once again imbalancing the whole global system in the process of trying to make trade free.

Is the idea of buying American an antiquated charmer of a meaningless patriotic symbol?

The question gives me a headache.


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