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South Carolina Calls for French Boycott, Then Backs Down
Our Buy American Mention of the Week!
by Roger Simmermaker
April 4, 2003

Claiming France gave "aid and comfort to Saddam Hussein," the South Carolina State Legislature declared "it makes no sense to buy French products, goods and services." But the State Senate never acted on the legislation, claiming it would be counter-productive since French-owned Compagnie Generale des Etablissements Michelin has factories in South Carolina. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Does the statement "if you're not with us, you're against us" sound familiar? Does it still apply? Perhaps not in South Carolina's legislature. Could someone remind them of it? And when reminding them, maybe we could also ask them if they realize something else. If we continue to buy French-owned Michelin tires, we are boycotting American-owned Cooper and Goodyear by default.

The purpose of any boycott is not only to punish countries who boycott and thumb their noses at the United States, but also to re-direct our dollars into American hands. Here's how it works: While we boycott French-owned Michelin, we also need to start patronizing American-owned Cooper and Goodyear. Both companies also have a lot of factories employing thousands of workers, not just in South Carolina, but across the entire United States. Support those two companies and support more American workers.

To understand why, we have to look beyond the "Made in USA" label. Since Cooper and Goodyear are based here instead of France, more jobs for positions like engineering, research and development, design, testing and administration are filled by American white-collar workers. Jobs like these for foreign companies producing in America are more likely to be in the foreign country, and not in America. By truly buying American in the purest sense of the term - buying American-made products from American-owned companies - we can boycott the French and support a net increase of jobs in the U.S. to boot.

In today's worldwide economy, it's difficult to have a boycott of any foreign country that won't jolt someone, somewhere in America. So it might make sense for some Americans to support Michelin if they have a friend or relative working for them in America. Special interests such as these do exist. But imagine if the only special interest we had as a country was to change our buying habits so that we supported the most American workers as we possibly could. That's the power of buying American. That's what being a consumer patriot is all about. That's what patronizing Cooper and Goodyear does.

The patriotic response to our perceived lack of options, due to our economic interdependence on foreign companies, is not to do nothing. It's not to reduce ourselves to spineless consumers who watch helplessly while France boycotts American companies like Coca-Cola, Budweiser and McDonald's. No, the patriotic response is to strive to become more economically independent.

If Michelin trims its workforce, Cooper and Goodyear will add to theirs. As these American companies prosper, so won't "We, the People," - their owners, workers and investors. American companies' profits will be repatriated to America, the taxes will be paid to the U.S. Treasury, and more money will be available to support not only our workers, but our troops fighting abroad and their families. While our troops fight for America abroad, we need to fight for America at home. American companies pay three times as many taxes to America as foreign-owned companies. We need more American investment - not more foreign investment.

Everyday, as parents, we teach our kids about the American virtues of being independent and self-reliant. We teach them not to depend on anyone for what they can do for themselves. And so it goes for the American family, so it should also go for the American nation. Isolationism? No, this is independence. It's why celebrate every July 4th. Our perceived lack of economic independence has us believing that we can do nothing in response to a French boycott of American companies. In truth, supporting American companies by buying American is exactly what we can, and need, to do to negate the effects of a French boycott. Support independence or stay home on July 4th, because your celebration will be largely ceremonial.


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