Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sending A Wrong Signal 

The "Buy American" provisions of the new stimulus spending bill, even though watered down, send the wrong signal. The message is that the US considers trade to be global until the country gets into trouble. The unfortunate part of the communication is that it provides an excuse for other countries to descend into protectionism that might be more restrictive than that of the US. I.e., if the US has become protectionist, so can we.

The language of the law is a lesson in the unintended consequences of communications. It would have been better had the provision never been there and the US recognized from the outset that the recession is a global phenomenon. Now that the language is in the law, the US has years of work ahead to regain leadership in pushing for global trade. Words count.

I agree. The U.S. owes too much money to other countries to suddenly disenchant them by promoting the "Buy American" provisions. While most citizens want to buy American products, the problem is that we are not putting in place the steps to CREATE products to be purchased. Manufacturing products and subsequently creating jobs is simply not going to happen until the overwhelming environmental and government-imposed restrictions are lifted off of American companies. So until those issues are dealt with, "Buy American" is doing nothing more than fueling a fire of bad relations with foreign countries.

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