Monday, October 14, 2013

"Buy American is Un-American?" Huh?

I found this post yesterday, courtesy of Bad Blue, linked by Jonathan Hoenig  over at Capitalist The author is an "Objectivist Philosopher" at the Ayn Rand Institute, Dr. Harry Binswanger.

To say the title surprised me would be an understatement.

Buy American is Un-American.

Really? There are far too many holes in the author's assumptions, which I'll point out.

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.

That may have been true for past generations, but under our current Progressive political leadership, it is no longer so. If I had ten thousand pages, I'd be happy to chronicle the many regulations placed upon American businesses by the Obama administration. Progressives Democrats and Republicans alike have no love for open competition nor a free market. One needs only to remember president Obama's pledge to "punish our enemies and reward our friends" to dispel any myths you may have concerning his allegiances or his opinions on equality.

A generation ago, under the Clinton administration, two pieces of legislation were passed that did much harm to our economy: one was the North American Free Trade Agreement and the other granted Most Favored Nation trade status to Communist China. These two terrible laws resulted in the massive shutdown of American factories and millions of unemployed and sub-employed Americans. At the time, president Clinton said that we were going to move to a service-oriented economy, and away from the manufacture of durable goods. Logic would have approved one goal in addition to the other, but that's not what happened. One replaced the other, thanks to government.

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.
The author incorrectly assumes that American products  are inferior to foreign-made products. Americans have a dedication to quality. As a former producer of manufactured goods, I can attest to the pursuit of quality: it's there, it's real and there are no excuses for not producing a quality product. I own a Chevy pickup that's 22 years old and has over 224,000 miles as evidence.

It's what  we do.

As to individuality, we are born as units of a nation, and there is nothing we can do about it until we can relocate. Our good fortune is to be born in America, and there's nothing wrong with unity in the promotion of our national values of freedom and individuality, especially where our money is concerned.

I would rather spend my money inside my own country and have that money go towards others who share my values. I'd also prefer the taxes I pay to help my fellow citizens than for that money to go into the pocket of some corrupt official in a foreign land. This is not the "hostility towards foreigners" the author claims, but an exercise of my individual preferences. I choose for my money to stay as close to home as possible.

Throughout history, mankind has always banded together with others of like mind and I can find nothing wrong with that. Unless, of course, you're a cannibal.

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.

No, it doesn't. There is no injustice in it. It's an individual decision, something the author previously stated he was in favor of. Besides, how does he account for the sales of foreign goods? Ours is a society that allows the market to decide who fails and who succeeds. I know of no group or country that's prohibited from selling here.

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.

Now he's just making stuff up. How is not sending money to help support a nation whose government is openly hostile to American values Marxist?

It is in your interest that other men be smart, ambitious, and productive, not stupid, lazy, or incompetent.
By spending my money here, I am much more likely to be a beneficiary of that smartness, ambition and productivity. Physical proximity counts for something. Also, by spending my money at home, I'm contributing more to the people who live around me, especially when it comes to charity. While I may not be able to contribute directly to charities, many of the companies I support do.

I'm offended at Dr. Binswanger's thinly veiled attempts to divide us further. Capitalism has been the victim of bad publicity despite all evidence to the contrary. The Twentieth Century was American Capitalism's finest era when unimagined wealth and prosperity were brought to the whole world.

You're welcome.

Those who are to blame for fouling capitalism are the first to proclaim it doesn't work. Funny, that.

We would do ourselves a favor to find leaders who would commit to an American Renewal. Such leaders would drastically reduce the amount of regulations and taxes that are currently preventing us from reaching our economic potential. They'd also promote freedom in all its forms, but primarily freedom from unnecessary governmental intrusion into our private life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Justice or injustice is irrelevant. Buy American if you want, if the argument for it makes sense to you, if you are easily swayed to do so. It's your money, you decide.

If not, don't.

That is American: freedom of choice!