If Americans buy only American products, how does that destroy their economy?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer to the idea of how "Buy America" might hurt American economy rests in how the interconnected nature of a globalized economy does much to reduce individual nation identity.  This means that as manufacturing, production, and product invention and innovation have become global elements, so much of American products are intermixed with elements from other countries.  For example, computers that are developed in America are done so with parts from other countries.  The interconnected nature of the globalized marketplace prevents a real strong identification of "American" or any singular nation status.  Consider the words from an economist, Mark Perry about this point:

"If we restricted trade to just the 50 states, what would happen immediately -- and would increase over time -- would be a huge reduction in our standard of living, because we wouldn't have access to the cheap goods we get from other countries. We also wouldn't have any export markets, so companies like Caterpillar and Microsoft would have a huge reduction in sales and workforce." (Mark Perry, University of Michigan-Flint. Money MSN)

At the same time, damage would be done to the economy because of the inexpensive nature of many foreign goods.  The idea of how economies become stronger is when individuals can be able to invest more money into products that are able to be readily afforded by the consumers.  Products that are solely produced in America are rare, and as a result, are more expensive than other products made elsewhere.  This means that consumers would be spending more money on individual products, and thus actually investing less money in the economy.  This would be challenging for the economic system.  The critical element here would be to foster an education about how the globalized paradigm has changed the way in which individuals from nations like America, nations that used to be stalwards in industrialization, can see how the needs of a globalized economy are met when all consumers participate in it.  While the standard approach would be for Americans to be dismayed at foreign production and industry, the reality is that American contribution to the global economy might not be in low scale industry production, but rather in higher end, higher ordered thought elements.

Education in this realm becomes essential as Americans need to understand that their contribution to the global economy might not be in the industrialization and production of widgets, for example, but rather in applications of said widget.