Saturday, June 9, 2012

Made in America! Sounds like a great idea. How important should it be that stuff we as a nation use be made here? Should there be laws here that force that we only buy American made products? What about our favorite foreign cars we love to drive? Perhaps there should be a buy American city ordinance! Put us in jail if we are caught driving a Mercedes or a Lexus in town. Honey ! Drive the Dodge Dart instead, the cops are everywhere tonight.
Sure, how about a buy America ordinance? One that says no foreign automobiles can be owned, driven or parked in your town. Make sure everyone knows the rules. Publish it in the newspapers and post the rules at the borders to town. Even if you are white, rich and republican, you can’t get out of that law. Have the mayor charge say $1,000 if you dare to drive the Mercedes through town. Don’t pay the fine. Then go to trial.
Yes, this is all written in sarcasm and could be a scene from a Twilight Zone episode if you are old enough to even remember that show. However, judging from the looks of many of our political candidates lately this scenario can come true. They can justify such a ridiculous law by saying that we are in the midst of a terrible recession, and that we need jobs, and we all would love to own a Lexus but we don’t need to be supporting employment in other countries. Buy American Automobiles!
What is wrong with a ridiculous rule like this is that it is unconstitutional. Article one says that only the United States Congress gets to regulate commerce. So, a local elected official like a mayor couldn’t make such a law for their town. A law like this would also violate the First Amendment which in addition to free speech, protects the consumer’s right to choose what to buy whether it be a doormat or a luxury foreign car. The Constitution is foremost about individual freedom; mine, yours and everyone’s so this concept of “Buy American” if enforced is based on the premise of collectivism.
In addition, a ordinance like that would be a blatant form of bigotry by giving special preference to cars made by Americans. That is economic protectionism. See, my Bachelors Degree in Economics taught me something after all. You are judging a car not by the character of it’s content but instead by where it comes from. What if we had an ordinance that said only cars made by white people? Would that fly? No I don’t think so.
There is a necessary and proper clause that the Supreme Court says it means that, “government can pass laws not granted by the Constitution if they were rationally related to the common good.” But then, I think the Supreme Court would be highly suspect of any ordinance that curtailed an individual’s fundamental right. Yes , as an American consumer I have a fundamental right to choose what I buy.
It is dangerous if the government tells us what we can or cannot buy. Yes, the FDA the Federal Drug Administration bans fish and other products from China and the government tells people they can’t buy fireworks for the 4th of July in some states but those laws are based on safety grounds.
Ok. The other side, we know that FDR signed the “Buy America Act” that helped during the depression. The history books called him an “American hero.” Franklin D. Roosevelt’s law helped people get back on their feet again financially. Would the history books be wrong? This particular ordinance or make it a law even could be the reason a family will not starve. Does driving a foreign made car justify the suffering of your neighbors who are unemployed and soon to be evicted from their foreclosed home? Just send the Lexus back and drive the Dodge American Made Dart already.
Well, maybe this isn’t a fake story or shouldn’t be a fake story. The reality now in America is that people are continuing to loose jobs and they are continuing to loose homes. Yes it is a radical idea to tell people what they can do with their money but these are radical times too. This country has a trade deficit in the trillions much of this because the production of anything we need to buy is made overseas. If we can keep it in America we can create millions of new jobs and more importantly over 60 Billion dollars in tax revenue can be used to fix that pothole that keeps ruining your tires.
We could flip this economy like a pancake, all it would take is for people to BE FORCED TO buy American made products by American companies. Yes, no freedom to even make your own decisions? Think about it. What would you decide if you were the deciding vote in this court?

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