(Mis)Uses of Technology

Filed Under:
immigration, reform

innovation movement

Closed: 23 Sep 2009, 11:59PM PT

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Mandates To Buy American Should Be More Carefully Considered

The Innovation Movement is an important effort to help make sure that innovation in the US is not stifled through bad regulations. In this discussion, we're looking for insights into how to make sure trade policy for things such as "Buy American" aren't used in a way that causes much larger amounts of harm to American innovation.

We all know that the economy is in tough shape these days, and (as always happens in such situations) there's often a misguided push to put up trade barriers to try to force people to "Buy American." Of course, time and time again, such trade barriers have proven to actually do tremendous harm to Americans, rather than help them. We're already seeing this with friendly trading partners like Canada threatening to retaliate. That retaliation harms American jobs much more than any jobs "gained" from such protectionist barriers (as pointed out by the non-partisan and highly respected Peterson Institute). On top of that, by adding barriers on goods that Americans want, the end result is only that Americans end up paying *more* for their goods -- not exactly an outcome consumers are likely to appreciate during an economic downturn.

Granted, it's quite easy to understand the patriotic feeling behind a "Buy American" clause -- and we all want to support our country. But the problem is that in not paying attention to the actual impact, and pretending that there are no "unintended consequences," a Buy American clause can be detrimental to America in the long run. That doesn't seem particularly patriotic.

The Innovation Movement is an effort by the Consumer Electronics Association to make more people aware of important policy issues, and to make sure that Congress actually takes relevant data into account, rather than just focusing on the patriotic headline while ignoring the unpatriotic results.

In this Insight Community Conversation, we're looking for thoughtful and well-written discussions on the pros and cons of a "Buy American" clause for US policies. The best results will be used as posts on the Innovation Movement website.

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