“Buying Local” Will Not Save Us
After watching the latest segment of ABC World News’s “Made in America” series, several thoughts come to mind:
1) Don’t view it on a full stomach.
2) Once again, the media has failed to ask the right questions because they, like our elected officials, don’t understand the problem.
3) Spending more money on a problem sounds great but is never the solution.
The series illustrates the astronomical amount of goods that are made in China, and postulates how great it would be if only we could “buy American.”
Gee, Diane Sawyer and Company, tell us something we don’t know.
Perhaps if the network did a little research as to the real reason why America manufactures virtually nothing anymore, thus identifying the problem, it could then report on the ways to bring back American companies, and the jobs and products they create.
But that would take foresight and initiative. And when it comes to the American media, those traits are in short supply.
In the latest segment, Sawyer states that the average American family will spend $700 this Christmas season, and that if each just spent $64 on American-made goods, more than 200,000 jobs would be created.
If that’s the recipe for success, then why stop at just $64? Well, ABC thought of that. Reporting that total Christmas spending would add up to more than $465 billion, they did the math for viewers: “If that money was spent entirely on U.S.-made products, it would create 4.6 million jobs.”
Great idea, if you’re playing make-believe. But in the real world, things don’t work that way.
First, we live in an ever-increasing global economy, which is perfectly fine, as world trade is a good thing. But things don’t work out so well when a country owns a mammoth trade deficit, which, in our case, is north of $500 billion per year and exponentially growing. You don’t need to be an economist to understand that when manufacturing plants move overseas, exports drop significantly while imports shoot skyward. That trend will only continue until the problem is identified (let alone solved). But stating a pie-in-the-sky wish that all products should or could be purchased in America is just plain insulting.
Second, throwing more money at the problem won’t solve anything, and, in fact, will make it worse by masking the real issues. Yet that’s a lesson lost on America, as we continue to fall for the duplicitous line that if we just open the wallet and increase the budget, all will be well.
What do we do about the nation’s abysmal academic achievement, in which U.S. students rank near the bottom of every category compared to their global competitors? Spend more on “education”—a lot more. Of course, we’ve been doing that every year at the local, state and federal levels, yet the scores continue to go the wrong way, but so what? That just means we need to spend even more money!
Too much crime on our streets? Hire more cops, despite the fact that most municipalities are going under just trying to pay current salaries and exploding pension and benefit costs. Forget that even the most militarized police states still have crime, and that more money (and thus more police) won’t deter crime. Smarter policing, and infinitely more important, smarter kids, will. But since we still aren’t “spending enough” on education, we continue to open the coffers for more cops.
Not enough jobs? Again, this wouldn’t be an issue if we had an educated workforce and a solid manufacturing base. But since we have neither, and refuse to make any meaningful attempt to change that situation, we create money out of thin air, throwing trillions in “stimulus” dollars (a.k.a., “taxpayer” money) at the problem. The fact that it didn’t work has not deterred the politicians, as they seek yet another round of stimulus spending.
And now, ABC would have us believe that spending $64 is the panacea to America’s chronic unemployment problem, and one that will help manufacturers stay in business.
When will we ever learn?
Such news reports only serve to divert attention from the real problems that need addressing: our atrociously unfavorable trade policies, the highest corporate taxes in the world, and the complete lack of an energy policy. By understanding these problems, we could begin to stave off the total loss of manufacturing. And here’s a newsflash: No nation has ever prospered, let alone survived, without a healthy manufacturing base. Without that, it’s lights out, and that’s not conjecture, but mathematical certainty.
So what to do?
• Trade policies need to be wiped clean and rewritten from scratch, with one overarching element above all else: America’s interests come first. Period. China looks out for its own interests, as it should. We need to do the same. At some point, we may not have the leverage to call the shots, but we do now. So let’s do it.
• An immutable law of economics is that if you want less of something, tax it—a concept lost on most elected officials. Hopefully that will change with a new Congress that will incentivize companies to keep jobs—and revenue—stateside by slashing the corporate income tax. It’s easy to paint the CEO who moves operations to more favorable tax environments overseas as greedy, but when faced with the highest tax rates in the world, combined with shrinking profit margins, it becomes a sound business decision. Given the choice, most would rather stay in the U.S., but the government has taken that choice away from many.
• By far, the most effective solution to give manufacturing a permanent rebirth and a competitive edge is simple and easy. It’s energy independence. But it seems that drilling for oil and natural gas, mining clean coal and expanding nuclear power is just too politically incorrect for ABC’s focus.
America will never compete with the lowest labor costs in the world. So the only way to offset that is to have the lowest energy costs in the world. And more than any nation on Earth, America can do that, because it possesses the greatest concentration of energy resources on the planet.
Lower fuel costs give manufacturing companies an edge, and that means greater commerce and more jobs. Businesses can take the billions in savings that cheap energy offers, and reinvest it so that operations are expanded, more workers are hired, and new manufacturing doors in America are opened.
And when all of the ancillary benefits are realized, the economy goes into overdrive: homes are bought, restaurants thrive, small businesses no longer face closure, and untold new ventures spring to life. All lead to higher tax revenue.
Incomprehensibly, too many major media outlets and the majority of politicians in both parties do not recognize these root causes of America’s economic crisis. And you can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what it is.
Connect the dots, and America thrives again. Keep the same policies in place, and we go the way of Europe.
And what a story that would be.