To the editor:
The state Democrats’ proposed “Buy American” law is a classic example of what Thomas Sowell describes as “stage one thinking.” At first blush, it sounds like good idea, but when one thinks beyond the feel-good, it is, in fact, a very silly idea.
First, the cap on 25 percent, sounds reasonable when no dollar amount is discussed but begins to sound quite the opposite when spoken of in terms of real dollars. Would you be willing to pay $125 for something equivalent that costs $100 elsewhere? Of course not. Now consider purchases in the millions of dollars: $2.5 million more on a $10 million purchase? How warm and squishy do you feel now? That $2.5 million could be used to support schools or roadways instead. Better yet, it’s money that taxpayers could simply keep in their pockets and spend as they see fit.
Second, by paying more just because it’s “made in America” the state is supporting companies with inefficient business models. Through protectionism, the state is actually hobbling American business by not requiring them to strive toward more competitive practices. In the long term, this hurts their ability to compete for all business, foreign and domestic. Competition improves ALL players. Protectionism hurts everyone.
This proposal illuminates the stark differences between “progressive” and conservative ideology: Progressives think that the economy grows best from the top down, when government makes the rules; conservatives believe it grows from the middle out, when government gets out of the way.