I’m watching something emerge here in Brazil that could bounce the US economy back to full recovery pretty fast if we were to implement it as well! Brazil’s educational system is putting hundreds of thousands of tablets in kids’ hands as part of a pilot project, prepping for nationwide roll-out on a grand scale. What makes this interesting is not the technology, not even just the government’s funding of innovative educational programs. There is something even more going on here!
The government has decided, since this effort is funded by taxpayers, that every tablet purchased by schools will be made in Brazil – no imports allowed. As a result, we are seeing huge investments in high tech manufacturing. If Toshiba wants to play (and they do) their devices will need to be made in Brazil by Brazilian workers. The same goes for any other company.
Imagine what a policy like this would do for the United States – ANYTHING the government buys needs to be made in the USA. Since governments at all levels spend a lot of money, this infusion of new business would put Americans back to work in droves.
Of course, this wouldn’t happen overnight. I think that companies should be given 6 months to ramp up their assembly capacity. Next they need to look at the components themselves and increase (or in many cases, rebuild) their manufacturing capacity in this area.
The spreading of US tax-funded purchases around the world in search of the cheapest deal is a luxury we can’t afford. And, while the example from Brazil involves computer technology, I think the US should expand this vision to everything the government buys.
Will US-built products cost more? Given the trade agreements we have, and our race to outsource to low-wage nations, yes they probably will. But I’m asking myself what the real cost of products is when we factor in the cost to our jobs? And, of course, we as individuals would remain free to buy products made anywhere we want. My proposal only applies to those things purchased by the government using our tax dollars.
Is this a good idea? what do you think?