The Utter Mendacity of the ‘Buy American’ Campaign

Take a look at what these gullible dumbassess over in the Snow White streets of Dallas are doing. No really. They’re emptying their home of anything foreign made. Because an “economist said that if everyone bought America made goods the economy would turn around faster.”

It’s the usual crap about how evil companies are outsourcing manufacturing jobs to third world hellholes and costing America jobs and money. (Seriously, man. You get 12 years of free education, endless community college programs, free education grants, public libraries and state level workforce training centers that are free. If after all that the best you can do is a job that an illiterate peasant living in a dirt shack can do, you have bigger problems.)

theytookourjobsThis is not just stupid. It’s absolutely wrong. Manufacturing in America is at an all time high by every measure except jobs. That’s because we’re really good at being productive, most of it is high-tech, and we have robots. Lots of robots. Robots that haven’t yet gone all SkyNet anyway.

Let me allow someone smarter to point out the obvious:

Ugh. Where to begin? Back in the “golden age” of 1960, when imports were oddities to marvel over in a disdainful way, the per-capita U.S. income was $2,914. In 2009, with imports ubiquitous, per-capita income was $46,411. (Economic Report of the President, 2010, Tables B-1 and B-34). In real, inflation-adjusted terms, even with a U.S. population increase from 181 million to 307 million, per-capita incomes in 2009 were almost triple what they were in 1960 ($42,277 vs. $15,669 in 2005 dollars—ERP, 2010, Tables B-2 and B-34). Oh, if only we could replicate the relative poverty, the limited consumer choices, the inefficient production processes, the massive trade barriers that compelled Americans to buy American, and the uneconomic work rules and wages commanded by once-powerful private sector labor unions. In 1960, before real economic liberalization spawned cultural and social liberalization, Diane Sawyer would never have dreamed of being a network news anchor, if she even dared to entertain the concept of working outside of the home. How can she pine for such an era?

It’s frustrating that so much research refuting the myth of manufacturing decline and supporting the conclusion that U.S. manufacturing is thriving—and is in fact leading the world in terms of value of output—is simply neglected by a media that is more committed to scaring than informing. Today Americans are less likely to find in their homes products manufactured in the United States because U.S. manufacturers have moved on to producing higher value products. American manufacturing isn’t focused on products that consumers find in retail stores, like furniture, hand tools, sporting goods, flatware, draperies, carpeting and clothes. American factories produce more value than any other country’s factories by focusing on producing the highest value products: pharmaceuticals, chemicals, airplanes, sophisticated componentry, technical textiles, and other items often sold directly to other businesses.

I and others have been making these points for several years, as U.S. manufacturing continues to thrive in every metric…except employment. Manufacturing employment peaked in 1979 and has been on a downward trajectory ever since. But that is the point that eludes ABC and everyone else who thinks U.S. manufacturing’s best days are in the past. Making more with less is the goal! That’s how an economy grows! The political imperative of “putting people back to work” regardless of the economic value of that work–remember the so-called stimulus?– spits in the face of economics. The fact that Americans are unemployed speaks to a mismatch of skills demanded and skills available, as well as to a business and regulatory environment that dissuades investment and hiring.

ABC’s proposition that Americans would support 10,000 new jobs by spending just $3.33 more (per year?) on U.S.-made goods obviously fails to consider the jobs lost by switching from imports to domestic or switching from savings (which is just money used for investment, which already supports jobs) to spending. Depriving foreigners of U.S. dollars just deprives U.S. producers of export sales.


  1. tim_lebsack says:

    I’m curious about how much cash the Usry family is importing from ABC. Hope it doesn’t hurt them.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s too bad Garrison doesn’t work in an honorable profession that actually serves some useful purpose. Then when his job got outsourced to India, he’d have something real to bitch about.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “This is not just stupid. It’s absolutely wrong. Manufacturing in America is at an all time high by every measure except jobs.”

    This is bullshit. Thousands of telecom manufacturing have left the Richardson=Plano Telecom Corridor. Jobs is the most important metric of economic health anyway Garrison, you drug-addled creep.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Garrison and his backers at CATO won’t be satisfied until they turn the USA into a third world nation.