Friday, March 13, 2009

Buy American Green?

Just a thought I had.

Obama at one point was going to put the "buy American" rider in the budget, which is a moronic idea. Protectionist measures are bad for an economy. They provide a fa├žade of job security, but cause stagnation in growth and similar sanctions to be put in place by former trading partners. This causes a rise in prices, a decrease in consumption, and furthers economic problems. On top of that, with the globalized manufacturing industry, chances are pretty good that even something "made in the USA" has parts that were made elsewhere.

But what if that policy was altered? What if instead of a company simply being American as the criteria, a company had to be green?

No border concerns on the policy, just environmental ones. The government sets some sort of pollution/carbon footprint/whatever limit on companies that can enjoy doing business with the massive US consumer market. At the same time, they offer subsidies and incentives to American factories, companies, etc., to go green. More than cap and trade policies, but actual redevelopment of manufacturing processes to be more environmentally friendly. They've spend over a trillion on banks, why not on an area that actually makes a real product and provides real money instead of paper wealth?

This would have a few benefits. It keeps with Obama's "green jobs" platform by employing thousands of people in rebuilding, redeveloping, and rebranding of existing companies to a green policy. It creates permanent positions of serious environment control and services. It reduces waste, improves the local ecology, and generally makes people feel better. It creates training opportunities and opens the door for secondary green industries. ie.- If a company transports largely by truck or diesel train, then there's an incentive for the government to build more direct high speed electric lines, which creates more jobs. It pushes green cars, green housing, local factories (better ecologogically to have people live close than far), telecommuting (which leads to technology infrastructure development), and other concepts that have yet to reach their full potential.

Other developed nations would be pressured to implement similar methods, which shouldn't be that hard. In fact, the US could just enforce its current EPA standards as a starting point, which most developed countries already fall in line with. The less-developed, manufacturing-heavy countries that rely on the US for business would be forced to finally update their policies and technology to be cleaner. China's factory towns are some of the most polluted places on Earth right now; a policy like this could force them to clean up to keep the business.

The incentive? The first ones to get there reap the most rewards, because they'll have the head start on rebuilding economic ties with the US market. The fallout in these countries would be similar.

In the end, it results in a better quality of life for everyone, reinvigorated local manufacturing, job creation, and it would be politically untouchable from a foreign standpoint (who would cry out, "Your policy of making this a better place to live is protectionist! We'll implement our OWN environmental policies to keep YOU out!").

Just a thought.

1 comment:

KenP said...

I know that there is a lot of fear mongering at the moment with ocean levels being thrown around.

Today alone:
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,25182519-2703,00.html

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,25182520-2703,00.html

The Green remind me of the guy at the tables telling others to fold as he always has the nuts.