I readily admit my ignorance when it comes to trade wars and tariffs. I listen to the pundits claim that the price of everything will rise and tariffs are bad for business. However, before the income tax, the federal government was funded to a substantial extent by tariffs. In other words, tariffs aren’t something new and different. They are a tool of government.
When I was much younger, everything was “Buy America” products. Japanese goods were junk. European goods weren’t much better – except for Belgium chocolates and crystal stemware. China was about as backward as Africa thanks to its genocidal dictator, Mao. Stalin was still in power and our arch enemy. The mid-east was a sand pit. Most of Southeast Asia was a mystery.
“Buy American” was the watch word of everyone I knew – and in most instances you couldn’t really do any better. The military, of course, was “Buy American” all the way. You couldn’t have foreign businesses making critical defense equipment or components as a change in geopolitics could severely impact readiness. (I note that the current Chinese government is threaten to cut off America’s access to rare earth materials.)
My first memory of useable “quality” foreign goods was when my dad purchased some German made HO trains and tried to sell them. Unfortunately, the trains arrived after Christmas. My next foreign adventure was with a Volkswagen bug, a cheap little car great for a newly married couple needing some local transportation. The bug ran reasonably well, but under certain circumstances the accelerator would jam – definitely not a good thing.
Exactly when the transition from “Buy American” to “Buy the World” occurred, I do not know. It certainly involved a subtle shift, but the words “Buy American” seemed to disappear under a blizzard of quality imports.
My first actual exposure to the shift occurred during the Clinton administration when the policy of protecting military technology was placed in the hands of the Commerce Department. To prevent the transfer of a critical technology, a DoD technology administrator had to laboriously appeal the potential transfer. Unfortunately, the appeal was likely to be denied.
Importantly, if you “Buy American” you don’t have to pay price of a tariff associated with a foreign good from China or now Mexico. “Buy American” also helps the American economy and the American worker. Maybe keeping the money home will also pay off some government debt – although I doubt it because politicians can’t help but spend money.
Some might say you can’t “Buy American” for everything you need, and that is likely true. However, there are numerous websites that display the range of products made in America that an American can buy. There is MadeinUSAForever.com and a MadeinAmericaStore.com. Even Amazon advertises a “Buy American” feature. To see the range of “Buy American” information, do an internet search of “Buy American Products Online”.
My bottom line is that if you want to do something good for America, then ignore the noisy debates about tariffs and “Buy American”.