Imagine How Rich We'd Be If Every American Bought a New Car Weekly!!!

by Don Boudreaux on November 3, 2005

in Myths and Fallacies, Trade

A few days ago, while driving on the Washington, DC, beltway, I saw a bumper sticker that I’d not seen in probably a decade.  It’s the one that says "Help 10 Americans Lose a Job – Buy a Foreign Car".

This bumper sticker was on the rear of a mid-1980s Buick Regal — a fact that gave me an idea for two other bumper-sticker slogans:

"Help 10 Americans Lose a Job — Drive an Old Car"

"Help 10 Americans Lose a Job — Buy a Used Car"

After all, the "logic" of the bumper sticker that I saw on the Buick is that people who buy foreign-made cars don’t buy American-made cars and, therefore, the demand for auto workers in the U.S. falls.  American unemployment rises.

Well, people who drive older cars — for example, everyone in 2005 who continues to drive the same cars they drove in 2004 — don’t buy American-made cars in 2005 and, therefore, don’t contribute this year to the employment of U.S. auto workers.

The gentleman driving the twenty-year-old Buick, by his professed logic, has done nothing in two decades to help Americans keep their jobs.

Also, everyone who buys a used car is someone who buys a substitute for a new American-made car and, therefore, someone who fails to do all he or she can to promote the employment of U.S. auto workers.

Of course, buying foreign cars does nothing to reduce employment.  But if it did, so, too, would the keeping of older cars and the purchase of used cars.

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