The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 12, 2012

Stephen Verotsky | Patriotism and the economy

Stephen Verotsky

— Our nation must look for common ground. A forthright discussion on patriotism and how it should influence the decisions we make relative to the economy would be a good place to start.

During the past 11 years, giving thanks to our military for protecting our freedoms has become routine. The military has fulfilled its responsibilities to us and is deserving of our gratitude.

It seems that the rest of us, including consumers, members of financial institutions and corporate executives, have forgotten that we have responsibilities to fulfill as well. One of those responsibilities is to protect the economy so that when members of our military return home there are good- paying jobs waiting.

The “Buy America” campaign of old is all but forgotten. More accurately, since many of our manufacturing jobs have moved to foreign countries, it has become increasingly more difficult to buy products that are made in America.

A company that is forced to leave the country because it is not making a profit is regrettable. A company that is profitable and moves only to increase its bottom line is inexcusable. One that moves to a communist country is incomprehensible and anyone who makes that decision should be classified as un-American.

Those who believe that the previous statement is without merit must believe that the Cold War is truly over and that many of the more than 800 bases our military occupy around the globe, especially those in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, can be closed.

Furthermore, they must believe that the planned military buildup in Australia is not necessary.

The immediate benefit would be a reduction in the federal government’s expenses. In turn, the budget could be reduced and a reduction in income taxes could follow.

Eventually, corporations that left to avoid paying taxes might consider returning.

(Currently, the Pentagon’s budget exceeds the sum of the next 12 highest military budgets, including those of Russia and China.)

Curiously, there are politicians who remain silent while our corporations and jobs move to China. Yet they speak out against the growing threat that China poses to our national security. And they speak very passionately when they insist that the military’s budget must be increased.

Their ideology does not appear to be rational.

The term “venture capitalist” under certain circumstances is an oxymoron. Those who move manufacturing jobs to communist countries with the intent of shipping their goods to capitalist markets should, instead, be called “venture communists.”

Regrettably, there are consumers who come to their defense. Their logic is that they want the freedom to buy products at the lowest price possible regardless of who makes them. Carrying their rationale further, they must believe that it would be acceptable to move all of our manufacturing jobs and outsource all of our services to communist countries. For good measure, perhaps all of our utilities, schools, hospitals, financial institutions and even our government should be run by communists.

Their logic is not totally flawed. Goods and services would certainly be cheaper and we would have more leisure time to enjoy all of the products that communist countries such as China produce.

Of course, the unemployment rate in the country would increase to 99 percent from the current 7.7 percent.

Only farmers, professional athletes and members of the entertainment industry would most likely be employed.

President Richard Nixon has been given credit for initiating the beginning of the end to the Cold War. In February 1972, to the astonishment of most of the world, Nixon met with Chinese Premier Zhou En Lai. The shock was understandable. The communist nation had been isolated since 1949, when Mao Zedong took control, and the United States cut diplomatic ties.

In March 1969, because of a border dispute between the Soviet Union and China, the relationship between the two world powers had become strained. Nixon used the meeting with the Chinese to increase leverage against the Russians. He also maintained relations with the Russians as leverage against the Chinese.

In 1972, the war in Vietnam was three years away from ending. China was an ally to then North Vietnam and was supplying it with food and weapons. Nixon and the Chinese discussed the war and the freeing of American prisoners. Also on the agenda was China’s claim to Taiwan.

Economic ties with China date back to the 19th century. It can be argued that Nixon secretly hoped to eventually reopen the Chinese market, one which included more than 500 million consumers, to American goods. It cannot be argued that he intended for American corporations to move there and export goods to the United States.

It is interesting to note that Americans while living in China have reported that they had been unable to purchase goods that had been made there and sold in the United States.

Freedoms that we enjoy are to be valued and protected. However, let us hope that all of us, Democrats, Republicans and independents, can agree that when it comes to the greater good of the nation, certain freedoms should be limited.

To be clear, these limits should be self-imposed and should be a matter of common sense. That is to say, patriotism must be felt. It cannot be legislated.

 

Stephen J. Verotsky of  Johnstown, a retired high school mathematics teacher after 36 years of service, is an occasional contributor to the editorial page.

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