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Lingo Consulting
 

It seems as if every time I turn on the news, they are talking about one more part of Obama's economic stimulus, and this hour it appears that it is time to talk about the "buy American" provision. Due to the fact that 95% of the world's consumers live outside of the US (according to Chris Braddocc of the USS Chamber of Commerce), it is reasoned that the provision would actually provoke other nations to consider their own protectionist policies. Following that logic, such a provision could also encourage other nations to consider banning American imports, refuse to hire American contractors and even toughen existing laws that govern our ability to trade with them.

The 'buy American" provision, which restricts infrastucture activity unless  all of the iron and steel used in the project is produced in the United States" is already the talk of Washington, but is not the first time such legislation has been implemented, nor the first time strengthening American protectionism through limiting the purchase of foreign goods for American infrastructure. In fact, the first Buy American Act was passed in 1933, requiring the us government to choose American made products in its purchases with only certain exceptions. Then, in a speech on July 29th, 2003, US Senator Russ Feingold stated his belief that American goods should be favored in manufacturing and proposed a bill to strengthen the 1933 act. It's unclear whether these two measures directly resulted in the decrease in manufacturing in this country, but what is clear is that industy is no longer what it used to be.

Given the present economic situation in the US, it's easy to criticize a provision that might further limit business. However, what would be the consequences for not protecting American industry-industry that is shrinking every day. It is disturbing to see our country moving away from agriculture and industry, and if we can't produce the food we eat, and we don't make the things we use, then I can tell you the outcome will not be good. For these are the characteristics common to underdeveloped and often unstable countries. In combination with our economic foreign dependence, this doomed scenario makes for a worrisome future.

It is unclear what the effect of the buy American provision will have on American industry, and it would be premature to assume that it will either help or harm us. What is clear is that America cannot afford to lose valuable industry during this critical time in our history. The best route would be to find a way to state a preference for American goods without triggering a worldwide ban of American products and businesses.



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When Dorian Turner first walked off a plane  in 1998 and into Ezeiza airport just twenty minutes outside of Buenos Aires, she wasn't astonished to be greeted by stares. She'd already been warned that Argentina was devoid of racial diversity and that she'd be an object of curiousity with brown skin. What was shocking was that most Argentines she encountered during her five month stay there had such interestingly simplistic views on American race relations. For one, they understood that there were still racial divisions in the US, but they also believed that US had not changed much since the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. In short, they viewed African-Americans as victims. I spent the majority of those five months explaining US racial relations, and that it was much deeper than black and white-there were also divisions with new immigrants, moral issues and politics that were dividing our country.

10 years later, Argentina is a different place. Argentines are excited about our new President (not as excited as Americans are, but pretty close). Nowadays when I walk through Buenos Aires, I may still get a couple of stares, but by and large, most Argentines seem nonchalant. My conversations these days center more on what our new President is going to do, and what that means for us as African-Americans than just the racial ills of our country. I've been very happy to explain what seeing a brown face in the White House means for me, but most importantly, that skin color was almost a non-issue in the Presidential race. This seems to baffle Argentines.

It would have baffled me if you'd told me two years ago that we'd have our first African-American President and little to no ripples in the ocean of our racial fabric. I would have expected dissonance, protests and perhaps even some heated racially charged language, but that never happened. It turns out that we as Americans are much more mature than even we thought. I'm excited and proud that the USA is a place that has proved that the American Dream is still possible.

It's true, Obama will have to prove his worth by doing something about the economy. He's obviously got an uphill battle ahead of him. But it's also clear that Americans are ready to help him. I'm finding that showing support to our elected officials and feeling a connection to the political process is actually considered a strange concept to Argentines, more strange even than the fact that we have elected an African-American as our President. However, as they inquire about the American political process and just how they get all of us to vote without it being compulsory (the way it is in Argentina), it's exciting to wax poetic on the virtues of my country's amazing democracy. No matter how many times I have to say it, explain it and go through the details, it feels like I'm a grand ambassador for my country.

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