Playing dumb on imports and our economic health
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced a new report this week. It’s called Imports Work for America, and it makes the dubious claim that the surge of imported goods the American market has experienced in the last decade has actually created 16 million jobs – chiefly in the distribution supply chain needed to bring imported goods to market.
“We’ve long known that imports are vital to manufacturers, who rely on imported raw materials and intermediate goods to maintain their competitive edge, and to families trying to make ends meet,” said U.S. Chamber Vice President for International Affairs John Murphy. “This landmark study goes a step further by showing how imports support growth, jobs, and even U.S. exports.”
Editor's Note: The Chamber's study was jointly released by the Consumer Electronics Association, the National Retail Federation, and the American Apparel & Footwear Association.
But we like everything in moderation. And unlike our moderated love of the Mario brothers, our nation is addicted to imports. Despite a seasonal deficit contraction in last month's numbers, we still import far more than we export.
And that’s costly. When you lose production, you eventually lose innovative edge and know-how. You lose a steady pillar of the tax base. You slowly open the military up to supply chain risk. And, according to a study that the Chamber and its dirt-cheap imports allies would be loath to acknowledge, you lose jobs – 1.3 million of them directly to rising imports between 2007 and 2011.
An economy that relies on imports is one that doesn’t create wealth by making something. And America knows it. By a 2-1 margin, voters reject the notion that domestic manufacturing can be replaced by services. They also rank manufacturing as the industry “most important to the overall strength of the American economy.”
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