09 August 2010

Buy American!

Or not

I'm actually sort of curious about this.

Let's suppose you have a car manufacturer. Where does one suppose the car was MADE (and not simply what nationality is the manufacturer itself associated most closely)? Does anyone care to check that sticker out? Is a car a big ticket item enough that a consumer rationally opposed to supporting some devilish foreigner (say, from Venezuela or Russia) or rationally consumed with purchasing high quality goods (say from Germany, in theory) that they would check when they might not check whether their shirt is from Thailand, Taiwan, or mainland China? Or does it work only the other way around, that their concern over high quality and fair prices prevents them from becoming greatly concerned where a car was made? Not being generally concerned with making sweeping assumptions of quality products or using price discrimination based on origin, I don't find it all that consuming a purpose to look for goods only from certain places. And that leaves aside the actual difficulty of tracking down where a car's various parts were made and assembled simply by looking at one sticker relative to where a shirt or a motherboard were made. Or the possibility that a person may have internal biases, wanting something to come from closer to home rather than say, Hawaii or California, for whatever reason (most common with food production).

In fact, I've never cared. If a guy down the street is making something high quality at a fair price that I have a want or need for, I would buy it just as easily as I might from some random shop vendor in Mumbai. One can probably make some reasonable assumptions of quality based on company or brand names (I find this also a bit much of a shorthand too, particularly for things like medicinal products), but national origin seems like a false dynamic on which to judge this, particularly since large companies are almost always multinational.
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