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Time magazine has a piece about how a group of trade associations last week led in the celebration of what was called "Imports Work Week," which claimed that "a cheap, robust imports marketplace not only helps American workers and families, but local farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses as well."

The argument is that imports lower prices on items that range from television sets (down 87 percent in 10 years) to computers (down 75 percent), and toys (down 43 percent) to dishes and flatware (down 33 percent).

The study also maintains that a robust import market improves the US standard of living by making cheap goods available, and creates 16 million jobs that are part of the import infrastructure, and concludes that "American consumers should, in fact, feel good about buying apparel and other goods imported from overseas."

Mark Bloome, an activist who supports the buy American movement, tells Time that the report is myopic: "When Americans buy goods made in China, they are supporting the Chinese government and its military build-up, including potential cyber-warfare development which is stealing billions of dollars from USA companies right now. There is an old expression in retail: buy now pay later. When we buy Chinese products now, we pay for their development that may cost us more in the long run. The few dollars in savings now are minimal compared to what we will pay later in the costs our government has to incur to stop China’s manufacturing war machine."
KC's View:
The reality is that we do live in a global environment, in which both domestic and imported products are supposed to be able to compete fairly.

But it strikes me that there is a certain defensiveness to this proclaimed celebration, promoted by organizations that have a financial stake in making sure that in the US, imports are not demonized, especially at a time when questions are being raised about the conditions under which some or many of these imports are being manufactured.

Hard for me to believe that the US economy would actually suffer if imports became a smaller percentage of what people buy.

Now, there may not be as many cheap products to buy. And people might actually begin to get a sense of the broader implications of rampant consumerism and what things cost.

But to argue for the status quo is, I think, to suggest that the US would not be better off with a broader manufacturing base to support its innovation and service economies. Which just does not make any sense to me.