Buy American?

I heard this piece on NPR — www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102728244 — recently and it made me laugh. The point of the story was interesting; it noted that many of the people involved in supervising and monitoring the actions of GM and Chrysler drive cars built by foreign-owned companies, and as a result there is an element of hypocrisy when those individuals, and the Administration and Congress generally, urge everybody else to “Buy American.”

(Of course, “Buy American” itself is a bogus concept for two reasons. First, free people should buy the goods that they think are best for them, regardless of the ultimate ownership of the company that manufactures those goods. “Buy American” is the battle cry of a company that does not sell competitive products. Second, how do you determine what is an “American” company? Many companies that began overseas have significant plants and investments in America. Honda of America Mfg., Inc., which has plants in Marysville, East Liberty, and Anna, Ohio, is a local example of this reality. Those Honda plants employ thousands of people, purchase component parts from other companies with plants in America, and build excellent cars, engines, and other products. Given those facts, why should I feel compelled to buy an ugly, gas-guzzling Chrysler sedan when I can buy a well-made, less expensive Acura that gets great gas mileage?)

The moment that really made this piece memorable, however, came as the story noted that people who live in the midsection of the country are much more likely to buy cars manufactured by Ford, Chrysler, and GM than are those who live on the coasts. The piece then speculated that this discrepancy might be due to differences in “education.” What a great example of the condescension that many East Coasters feel for those of us in the Midwest! We’re just a bunch of ignorant hayseeds out here in the heartland, ready to be gulled by any ad campaign! I was glad to see that some of the internet comments to this piece pointed out this little example of East Coast bias.