Saturday, October 08, 2005

“Buy American” should not be code for Xenophobia

I was taken aback by an email I received recently, in which the writer assumed that I hated foreigners, so let me clarify. Being a supporter of American manufacturing and American workers does NOT equate to disliking people from other countries and cultures!

I love meeting people from other places, on their turf or mine. I speak several languages, have many international friends, and love to travel. My great-grandfather came to this country from Italy, and my grandmother spoke Italian and English. When I interact with people from other countries, I am always very conscious that I am an ambassador for America and I try to leave a good impression.

My concern for the welfare of workers doesn’t stop at the U.S. border. And, I know that wages and working conditions are MUCH worse in many places around the globe. I also know that Americans over-consume. We use up much more of the world’s resources per capita than most other countries.

Still, I think our economy will be stronger if we retain a diversified set of manufacturing and information technology skills and offer a variety of employment paths for our people. I also think we need to recognize the choices we make when we decide what to buy. That includes rewarding companies that have fair employment practices, environmentally responsible processes and products, and positive roles in their communities.

Companies that continue to employ our fellow citizens, offer decent wages and benefits, and pay their fair share of taxes, deserve our support as consumers. Nothing xenophobic in that.

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