Selfishness and shortsightedness have always been double-edged swords. Although it may be comforting to ignore the consequences now, it may require paying a steep price in the future. The U.S.’ “Buy American” provision may turn this saying into reality.
“Buy American. Layoff foreigners.” The source of this jingle surprisingly comes from the U.S. government. The first half is directly related to a provision from the U.S.’ new economic stimulus plan. In terms of foreign trade, the U.S. government, led by Obama, is taking this egoism to extremes. Similarly, the House of Representatives added into the new economic stimulus plan a “protectionist clause” that states infrastructure projects can only use iron and steel products made in the U.S if they are to receive financial support from the stimulus plan. Related content includes a clause stating that any uniforms and textile products used by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) must be 100% “Made in U.S.A.” Even though it is not known whether the new “unanimous” plan passed by the Senate and the House will actually contain this clause, it has already caused a great amount of discussion and uproar, and it raises people’s suspicions about this “new America.”
This “Buy American” momentum has had a growing trend in the U.S., and it has already incited fierce attacks from various countries, including the U.K., Canada, and other “allies.”
Undoubtedly, an excessive tendency toward self-interest has made some U.S. politicians ignore an important question: in the end, are there more American consumers or more global consumers? In the U.S., some more level-headed opinions have indicated that in case other countries “imitate the U.S.” or adopt retaliatory measures, consumers in those countries will only buy domestic goods, and then, U.S. industries will face a difficult problem with exports. This will deliver a serious blow to many U.S. exporters, which have suffered greatly in this financial crisis.
Even in their own country, snobbish politicians are creating a snobbish U.S. As we see from the second half of that jingle, some politicians advocate that in the midst of this financial crisis, the first people that should be laid off are “foreigners working in the U.S.” At the same time, they request that the priority of the bailout funds is to safeguard the jobs of U.S. citizens. Why is this the case? Even if they pay taxes like everyone else, it is no help because foreigners working in the U.S. have no voting rights. Therefore, these politicians can openly and legally make such claims and utterly pay no attention to fairness or to the feelings of foreigners working in the U.S. In this crisis, the popular American saying, “All men are created equal,” has been reduced to “All Americans are created equal.” The people hurt by this behavior not only include “non-citizens” working in the U.S. but also some clear-headed U.S. citizens. We all know that we share a common fate. Who can predict the next group of people who will be sold out in the next crisis?
Most Americans living in this financial whirlpool are bearing the burden of an unstable economy and a lack of confidence. The people who are still enjoying a safe income are those interest groups, including the Wall Street “elite,” whether they succeed or fail.
Because it has more economic problems than it can cope with, the U.S., which has always advocated sticking to a contract, has been flip-flopping, focusing on short-term gains instead of long-term development, and even shooting itself in the foot. We can say that compared to the financial crisis, the U.S.’s “spirit” is suffering a greater challenge.