Award Winning Blog

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Buy American: From Cars to Wireless to Apps

            It’s hard for me to equate patriotism with the international trade concept of comparative advantage.  Somehow consumers should abandon the best value and quality proposition in a commercial transaction if the creator lacks U.S. citizenry.  I understand the view that domestic employment matters, but should U.S. consumers bear the possibly severe financial consequences of their government’s efforts to handicap foreign competitors? 

             Is every Walmart customer an economic traitor?

            Years ago, domestic car unions, manufacturers and politicians wanted consumers to think twice about buying foreign made vehicles.  See  Now the patriotism litmus test applies to wireless networks,

            I cannot understand where to draw the line between legitimate national security and foreign espionage concerns versus thinly veiled market protectionism.  The FCC hasn’t helped with its recent determination that Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturers Huawei and ZTE pose acute national security threats:  The FCC relies heavy on conjecture, circumstantial evidence and anecdotes.  That may suffice, but a strategy of handicapping foreign market leaders also constitutes a factor in light of the Commission’s multifaceted campaign to reclaim 5G market “leadership.”  See

            I suggest our government officials slow down and consider the consequences of their existing and prospective actions.  A downward spiraling trade war appears possible and rarely does anyone benefit from a “beggar thy neighbor strategy”.  See

            Similarly, I suggest we take a deep dive on the concept of punishing Chinese government data mining and analytics made possible by U.S. consumer subscriptions to Tik-Tok.  How is this form of governmental surveillance substantially worse than similar tactics of private ventures?  Why do the governments of Russia and other adversaries get a pass if the risk to elections, civil society and trust is arguably equivalent?

            Closing the U.S. market to ventures offering a better mousetrap seems misguided, because it insulates domestic ventures from having to compete robustly and strive to enhance the value proposition of their goods and services.  I don’t support spying by foreign commercial ventures serving as agents for their governments, but I don’t want our nation to further disengage at great expense to its citizens.