Saturday, March 21, 2009

Made In Canada – Not For the Government

One of the easiest ways to help people keep or get jobs in a recession is to support local products and services. This has been one of the many methods governments have used to us get out of economic crunches in the past.

Even U.S. President Barak Obama has been tossing around the “buy American,” protectionism slogans, to encourage his citizens to purchase products made in the USA.

You’d think Canadian governments would know this too – this isn’t the first depression we’ve been in. We’ve seen our fair share of recessions, the Great Depression back in the dirty-thirties, and now today’s depression. Though most aren’t using the “d” for “depression” word, we’re obviously in one – because economists agree this is the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

However you name it, our economy has sunk to new lows. So, why is it that our governments aren’t buying Canadian?

The provincial Ontario government admitted this week that many of the provinces flags and provincial police uniforms are being made in China and other Asian countries.

At a time when people are losing their jobs in this country in record numbers, you’d figure our governments would encourage job growth by at least buying Canadian.

But instead of having Canadians make the various products and services our Canadian governments use, they have chosen the cheapest bidder, sending these jobs to other countries.

It’s almost like watching your mom, dad, brother or sister suffer in poverty, while donating large sums of money to a third-world. Granted, there is nothing wrong with donating to poor countries, but shouldn’t charity start at home? Doesn’t it make sense to help those nearest and closest to us first?

There is a downside to protectionism – in a global marketplace, it isn’t always wise to turn down a business opportunity just because they aren’t local. But, in this depression, we must resolve our own locally-grown financial issues before getting back onto the global money train.

Because that global money train of international trade isn’t going to stop for long, in a country which isn’t going to be able to pay for those goods and services. So it makes fiscal sense – as well as ethical sense – to invest in Canadian-made products and services first, and foremost.

Eventually, once this depression has long since gone away, leaving prosperity and growth in the marketplace, then, and only then, should big business invest in the world outside our borders.

However, that begs the question, should publicly funded tax dollars ever be spent on goods and services made outside of our borders?

It is one thing for a private corporation to decide to go to China, Mexico, or any other country to get the goods and services it requires. But it is quite another for our governments to do so – because we ultimately are all investors in that government.

The role of governments should always be to promote local products and services. To use another family analogy, it is like your mom asking you how come you could never be more like some other parent’s kid, why’d you have to turn out like you?

What a horrible thing for a mother to tell her child. And what a horrible thing for a government to do to its citizens.

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