I restate my idea on blocking imports of manufactured goods.
I've posted this before. It's revised and brought up to date. I still believe in it. America is in a weak position with regard to manufacturing and the global markets – in a losing game. Labor is cheaper in many other countries, so it costs them much less to make most products than it costs us. When you buy something from Walmart, where was it made? Most likely China, Korea, Japan, India, or Singapore. Who receives your purchase money? After Walmart takes their cut, most of it goes to those countries. Those countries don't buy much from the United States, hence we have a trade deficit with them. (To give Walmart credit, they’re working to offer more American made goods.)
Many believe that's a good thing: American consumers pay less for the items made in cheap-labor countries, than what they would pay for American made goods. In my mind, we'd be better off if we didn't .
Because we depend on foreign countries for cheap goods, entire industries have left the United States, and we have a current unemployment rate of more than 7.5 per cent, and much worse if you count the people who have left the work force. On the other hand, huge industries have grown in China and the other cheap-labor countries. In essence, we employ their workers over our own.
This has been going on for many years. Politicians berate unemployment, decry the loss of industry, but never do anything effective about it. As with so many problems, the government matches Albert Einstein's famous definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. They have hampered our industries even more: our companies are saddled with the highest corporate taxes in the world, as well as nearly the highest labor cost. (It's hard to obtain comparison figures, but the world's highest labor cost in manufacturing probably goes to Norway or Denmark – socialist countries.)
Perhaps an entirely new approach is needed. I suggest one which most people will dismiss out of hand, unless and until they give it real consideration:
We should block imports of all manufactured goods, including those made overseas by American firms.
I'm not blocking raw materials or specialty foodstuffs. We could still bring in wine from France, and cheese from Switzerland. I'm blocking all manufactured goods.
Think about that for a moment. That would almost terminate international trade, wouldn't it? Is that such a bad idea? The rest of the world would be horrified. America is the largest single market in the world, almost matching the combined countries in the European Union. Our home market is so big, we don’t really need to sell to the world outside our borders (my opinion.)
The truth is, we are capable of manufacturing everything we need. We don't need to export goods in order to find places to sell them.
If we blocked all imports, what would this do? Manufactured goods prices would rise, of course, but we would begin to see our own plants manufacturing again. We would see an explosion of new manufacturing and consequently, greatly increased employment in this country. This would help us once again enjoy the most powerful economy on the planet.
I'm not totally evil – I'd give the foreign countries a way to sell their goods within our economy:
Allow foreign companies to form stock corporations, with at least 10% American ownership, in the United States, and allow them to manufacture goods here, providing that no less than 85% of the employees of the firm are U. S. citizens.
This has happened in the auto industry. Honda, Toyotas, and other firms have built plants in the United States, and most of their cars are assembled here. That's good.
However, some American car firms manufacture cars in other countries (such as Mexico*), and essentially import their cars. I'd stop that – my laws would apply to them as well.
This is a radical change, and we'd see negative consequences as well:Environmentalists would be outraged. They would worry about emissions and global warming, increased power use, and on and on. We should insist that new plants be built with environmental safeguards, where possible. Other countries might reciprocate, and/or retaliate against trade with us. No trade with them. Big deal. Some of our companies might lose significant external sales. For example, GM sells a lot of cars in China; if China cuts off imports from us (retaliating), GM would hurt, and there would be some loss of jobs. There are those who believe America exists primarily to support Third World countries. They too would be outraged that we did something so selfish. But, our primary objective should be to optimize conditions in this country. The shipping and port-related industries would take a hit. We'd be importing a great deal less – just raw materials. China's economy might collapse, and they might start a third World War with us. There are all kinds of doomsday scenarios we could imagine, but we get a lot of those as a result of just living. I think the odds are against this.
We couldn't implement this all at once. There would be a need for a transitional period, allowing time for our manufacturing capabilities to be built up. I suggest increasing tariffs, in several steps, gradually reducing imports and leading up to the final cutoff. A reasonable time might be two years. We could also do it with decreasing goods quotas rather than tariffs.
I haven't seen anyone advocating this idea, but I believe in it, but another interesting idea intended to achieve a balance of trade was advanced by Warren Buffett and others. A bill to implement it was introduced into the Senate, but it never went anywhere. His idea was the Import Certificate. Warren Buffett's idea
I'd really welcome comments. Or at least, intelligent ones.
* Note – Ford makes autos and parts in an incredible array of domestic and overseas factories. See Ford factories around the world. So does General Motors: List of GM factories.