Steven G. Percifield--author

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Steven G. Percifield  Author and consultant
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Buy American?

I received, yesterday, one of those innocuous Emails that are distributed and redistributed worldwide in a matter of seconds.

The gist of the email was that there was a simple solution to America's economic woes. Putting the detail to one side, the closing line of the article was, "Pass it on, America ...... BUY AMERICAN!"

Below is my reply to the friend who sent the article to me.


Date: Thursday, May 12, 2011, 2:07 PM

Dear friend:

While I agree in principle, a "buy American" campaign ignores the larger issues:

1.  Why are we unable to compete with the Chinese on so many of these items? The only place where the Chinese have a major advantage is labor and that is a relatively small part of the total cost of many of these products.

2.  How can they manufacture products on the other side of the world, pay to ship the goods all the way over here and still sell them at prices we can't compete with?

3.  Why is it that, when nearly everyone in this country finds fault with Chinese quality, their goods still line our shelves?

Dare I say: our government is the reason?

Our manufacturers, strapped with regulations, are hamstrung by our government--be it the EPA, the FTC, the FDA, the USDA, OSHA, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. On the other hand, Chinese manufacturers are encouraged by their government to do whatever is necessary to export their products and import our cash.

Our government seems hell bent for leather to regulate commerce (and individual) activity to death. And, they are—based upon the last several decades--succeeding.

Pollution problems in this country, resulting from manufacturing and power generation are a small fraction of those coming from such activities in China. Ironically, at the rate we're going with more and more businesses shutting down and more and more people unable to find jobs, these are doomed to be reduced even further.

The Chinese are--no doubt--going to pollute the world like no one before them...but at least they'll have an increasing number of jobs while they do it.

We, on the other hand, can take the moral high ground and say look what we've done to save the world’s environment...or at least we'll be able to say that until we starve.

It's a rough call: do we want to die from pollution or from starvation?

There is a practical middle ground somewhere between the Chinese example and where we are at. But as long as the Chinese aren't playing on a level regulatory playing field, they are going to have a competitive advantage.

Despite their pitifully low labor rates, shoddy quality, and distance from the US market our self-created and self-imposed bureaucratic nightmare seems destined to ensure Chinese domination in the manufacture of the products we use.

Steve Percifield