Earlier this month, I wrote that it was past time to stop supporting the malevolent Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and stop buying “Made In China” and promoting offshoring to the “People’s Republic of China” (PRC)*. The CCP/PRC’s Chinese/Wuhan virus (aka Chicom virus, COVID-19 and SARS CoV 2) serves as another wake-up call in a litany of what should’ve been wake-up calls over decades.
I think it’s important enough to reiterate. As I noted a few weeks ago, it is important to be more choosy in where we individually purchase our goods from. It means looking at labels and asking “where is this made”. Then selecting goods made in the USA and reputable countries. It also means selecting US and local companies and contractors who comply with labor laws and hire legal workers (ask or check if they use E-Verify). Especially now, choosing to buy US made and locally sold products is needed as our neighbors begin to recover from a major financial hit.
Doing this also means being willing to pay a bit more for some products and also passing up some of the junk we really don’t need in the first place (adding up to substantial savings). It means saving up a little bit longer to get what you want. However, from my experience, it means getting a better quality product that lasts longer. That also means spending less for things over the long term (you pay more up front but don’t have to replace as frequently). It also means that we deal with companies in better compliance with acceptable labor and environmental laws (especially if made in the US).
That also brings me to a problem I’ve long had with globalist trade policies: they create incredibly uneven playing fields that undermine our national values and empower some of the worst regimes. Companies who operate in the US here or in reputable countries are pitted against those who rush to cheap overhead (labor and regulation) above all. The result is the the ‘less ethical’ companies realize a financial/competitive advantage over the ‘home’ companies who the go bankrupt or follow the other companies to prioritize low overhead over everything.
The result is regimes with exploitative labor laws and poor safety and environmental regulations get more business and power including influence over key products (like basic medical supplies, such as antibiotics). Oppressive regimes are thus empowered. In the PRC’s case, they have appalling records on labor, safety, and environmental norms along with intellectual property rights abuse, currency manipulation, human rights abuses, industrial espionage, general espionage and international aggression. Bill Clinton and the GOPe even nevertheless gave the PRC Most Favored Nation (Permanent Normal Trade Relations) in the 1990s and companies have been incentivized to set up there in droves.
This doesn’t mean US laws and regulations are perfect. They do go overboard in some areas, are beholden to or manipulated special interests in others and inadequate in yet other areas. However, by and large we try and adapt. The same applies to many countries including plenty in the Pacific Rim (such as Taiwan). Certainly,they too have strengths and weaknesses but are trying and are not regional aggressors.
US trade policies should be altered to include a sliding scale of basic compliance with international norms. The lower on the scale, the higher the tariff on the product. If we’re going to decide to subject companies here to a given set of regulations and their costs, then anyone we import from should adhere to reasonably similar standards or a surcharge/tariff should be placed on the product to compensate for lack of compliance. Sort of similar to what regulatory agencies do when calculating penalties for “economic benefit of noncompliance“.
Globalist trade policies dating back to the late 1970s have failed to yield promised results of democratization of such countries (far from it). Many in political circle will fight change. Thus is is on us to start these changes at home.
We must take the lead. As we choose to buy from US manufacturers with legal workers and products made in many reputable countries, we’ll enact a genuine trade policy that will benefit human rights, the environment, ethical norms. It will also benefit our wallets and families as we prioritize purchases and realize long-term savings.
Internationally, our choices will properly realign and incentivize companies to locate in reputable areas. In the long run, it will hopefully lead to the collapse of malevolent regimes (or at very least containing them) and opening former tyrannies to freedom and real trade. Trade power really does lie in your hands. Use it!
*The PRC should never be confused with the ROC (Republic of China) also known as Taiwan (a country far, far better than the PRC).