The Quotidian

Evolving perspectives on evolving challenges

Tag: buy american

Why only Apple can save General Motors

by Kai Hsing

The problem with American automakers is not that “liberals” prefer buying foreign brands, but rather that American automakers have a severe design and brand image problem.

Since my last post, I began thinking about my own personal consumer choices and how many of them could be considered “American.” While there is much acrimony about the supposed decline of America as a brand in the world (both commercially and politically), I think that there is still a ways to fall before we hit rock bottom.

Charles J. Brown of Undiplomatic wrote in the Huffington Post recently about, among other things, the problematic perception that American brands enjoy among “lefty/coastie/academic community” liberals. We’re all probably guilty of it in some way or form – it is, as Brown asserts, as part of our self-image as “lattes, Whole Foods, yoga, and Mac laptops.”

Mentioning Apple is interesting, primarily because they are arguably one of the most successful American companies both in terms of their sheer profit and cultural cachet. Apple is unequivocally successful not only in terms of their sales, which remain strong even in these difficult economic times, but also in the fact that they evoke strong positive emotional feelings among these supposedly anti-American liberals. Read the rest of this entry »

Buying patriotism in the age of transparency

by Kai Hsing

Obama’s push to “Buy American” should make us all realize the need for real, raw information to be made readily available to consumers.



Going to work today, I took a train made by an Italian company that was assembled here in California while sipping Ethiopian coffee and reading a book printed in China – a now almost-cliché scenario replicated across communities throughout the U.S. with any combination of products and origins. Whether it’s a car instead of a train or Mexico instead of China, it’s nothing new to say that our economy has long been inevitably and inextricably global.

Which is why President Obama’s push for all of us to “Buy American” seemed to be a rather tired rhetorical device aimed at placating the xenophobic masses. Indeed, we all know that conditions of a globalized economy can be questionable at best, but there will be no return to a feudalistic retrofuturism anytime soon.

But what has changed in our lifetime is that global capitalism has gotten so complex and shape-shifting that we’ve long needed a redefinition of what “Buy American” really means.

A recent article in the New York Times that tried to sort out the anguishing identity crises of labeling automobiles as “American” or “foreign” found that:

… “domestic content” is not domestic at all. For the purposes of the window sticker, the government has decided that domestic content will include parts made in Canada. Under the North American Free Trade Act, domestic is even less clear because it also includes Mexico.

Read the rest of this entry »


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