Saturday, February 16, 2008

"Buy American": Collectivist, Un-American Bigotry

Ayn Rand Institute:

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.

8 Comments:

At 2/17/2008 4:29 AM, Anonymous RejpalCZ said...

If it's free will of a consumer to Buy American - let him do it! Whatever his reasons are, he should be free to buy anything he wants (and can afford). If he wants to pay more for less quality, he's welcome.

But he shouldn't be allowed to FORCE other people (e.g. through government) to behave same.

Using words as "racism" or "xenophoby" is strong in my opinion, and it avoids the key issue of "Buy American" problem: THE FREEDOM.

If people are free to choose, you don't need to solve anything more. The market will.

 
At 2/17/2008 7:17 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"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"...

I can't believe this is even worth considering...

I mean I've yet to meet the person who refused to buy something because a black person or a Chinese person made it...

Am I the only one?

There are only a few driving forces that I know of, that I've experienced that make me decide on one product over another and the color of the skin has never been one of them...

I must admit that after the Chinese boondoggles over lead tainted paint on toys and the dog food additive I was persuaded not to buy a cast iron skillet made in China (I could NOT find one made in America) until I could find out if Chinese iron smelting methods left antinmony residue in the skillet...

 
At 2/17/2008 11:26 AM, Blogger Marcus said...

This article was first published in April of 1987 in The Objectivist Forum.

I bring that up because the bogeyman then was Japan. Hence, the focus of the article on Japanese goods.

This makes it even more appropriate for today. Just as the Japanese hysteria turned out to be much to do about nothing, so is the Chinese hysteria today.

 
At 2/17/2008 2:08 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Would it also be bigotry if a young soldier decided to fight for Al-Quida instead of the U.S.? Where does patriotism really start and end?

On the one hand, I see a big difference between buying something from someone because he’s my friend, coworker, neighbor . . . , and hating someone. On the other hand, freedom means you have a right to decide what you wish to buy.

Buy the best product for the best price, but don’t expect your neighbor to buy from you if you don’t buy from him.

 
At 2/18/2008 8:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What would you recommend I do with my 1000 "Out of a Job yet? Keep buying foreign" bumper stickers? Ironically, I bought the bumper stickers from a supplier in Taiwan.

 
At 2/18/2008 9:37 AM, Blogger mgrund said...

Well this is am much more simplistic analysis than I have come to expect fro this blog.


Politics and economics are linked via national defense. As it stands we are not able to ignore the implications of hollowing out the US economy. Nor can we ignore the fact that US defense costs are bruden which places the US as a competative disavantage tothe extent that we have been subsidiing these costs for our economic competators overseas. Now also consider that other counties hava a habit of ignoring our IP law, empoying child and slave labor and disreagardig soulnd envirinmental and safety policy.


We can join them in the race to the bottom, whils satnding down from defese of the rest of the world and likewise moving back to the time of the Triangle Shirtwaist company or we can hold the line with leaga barriers to protect our domestic industry.

If we will no allow child labor in the US, then why should we allow import of goods made with child labor? Is banning child labor good policy or not. If not then do anaywith it if not then it must be made to apply to imports as well.

And so on wiht our worker safety and envirmental rules. Meanwhile critical technolgy is being exported by default and little is coming back other than cheap trinkets and a source of dept financing. This is not sustainable in any case so look out below if the corection is not gentle.

 
At 2/18/2008 11:35 AM, Blogger juandos said...

mrgrund, personally I think you are partially wrong here: "Nor can we ignore the fact that US defense costs are bruden which places the US as a competative disavantage tothe extent that we have been subsidiing these costs for our economic competators overseas"...

I grant you that basically funding the Japanese and European defense has been more than a bit of a drain...

I think the real drain, where the vast majority of extorted tax dollars go to is the socialist, nanny state programs that started with FDR and have continued right up and through to George W...

"Is banning child labor good policy or not"...

Bad policy... Socialist policy...

"And so on wiht our worker safety and envirmental rules"...

More socialist, nanny state crapola that costs everyone when the federal government does it...

Complying with government regulations consumes $1.4 Trillion

$1,028 billion federal mandates, $343 billion state & local government mandates)
- 14.9% of the economy - $4,680 per man, woman and child -

- adding this regulation cost to $13,568 government spending per person
equates to $18,248 per person of government impact -

AND - compliance costs small business more per employee than big business -

AND - this does not count compliance cost impacts of the Patriot Act and Sarbanes-Oxley regulations

- federal expenditures on regulatory activity increased 2.7 times faster than economic growth since 1960 -
- at 14% per year compounded -

 
At 2/19/2008 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This buy American collectivist thinking is the same type of thinking that led to counting how many Americans won medals during the Olympics.

Not only does it produce inefficiency in the market place--rewarding inferior effort, misallocating resources--it does promote an us versus them attitude that I find unappealing.

 

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