Thursday, August 27, 2009

They're Stealin' Our Jobs.......

Man, the whole Buy American movement annoys me. Not that I don't support American jobs. But I think this movement has two major problems. First, it prioritizes American jobs and the welfare of Americans over that of the rest of the world. I don't think that's helpful, particularly when the jobs are already overseas. Second, it's unbelievably simplistic.

People are complaining because Cash for Clunkers gave consumers the option to buy non-American cars
. Not surprisingly, given the fuel requirements of the program, a majority of people chose foreign cars.

First, this is one case where environmental concerns should simply outweigh any others. We need to change our driving habits. Driving at all is unfortunate, but if we have to drive, we should drive fuel-efficient vehicles. Second, Americans talk all about pleasing the consumer. Regardless of the problems with this line of argument, this is one case where consumers had their choice and they chose what they wanted. Isn't that OK? If Detroit made better and more fuel efficient cars, they would have dominated the Japanese. But they have chose a different course for decades and are paying the price.

Finally, many of those Japanese vehicles are made in American plants, thus still supporting American workers. I mean, in the modern world, what does "Buy American" even mean? Is it really about the highest echelons of ownership? Even there, people from around the world own almost every company. Does buying that GM car built in Mexico make any more or less sense than that Toyota car built in Alabama? I don't see how. If this was really about union jobs versus non-union jobs, I could see a strong argument for buying the GM vehicle. But Detroit has been bailing on their unions for 40 years and buying American vehicles isn't going to make any difference. Does anyone doubt that if GM survives and again starts building cars like in 2006 that they aren't going reopen many of those unionized American factories? They are going to open new factories in the developing world. I'd like to see this halted by government action, but that just ain't going to happen.