Pitfalls of Protectionism

Here is a letter I recently sent to the Midland Daily News:

In his recent letter, Bill Burk sings praises to buying local (Unions commit to local, November 4). He argues that buying local saves jobs in the community, and is therefore superior to purchasing goods made outside the community.

Although I agree that buying local saves local jobs, there is nothing special about saving a job that is 1 mile away over saving a job that is 20 miles away, or 1000 miles away. Individuals who live 20 miles away or even 1000 miles away purchase goods from Dow Chemical and Dow Corning that employ people Midland. Would Midland, or the world for that matter, be better off if people outside our community shared the views of Mr. Burk? What would happen to the employees of Dow Chemical and Dow Corning if the world decided to buy local?

Additionally, which of the following actions is more benevolent? Purchasing from an inefficient producer who employs individuals enjoying an American standard of living or purchasing from an efficient producer in a developing country who employs individuals who depend on every penny of their income to sustain their own life?

Kurt Bouwhuis


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