Here’s a letter that I sent today to Tom Davis, the politician who is currently elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the district I live in:
Dear Rep. Davis:
am employed by George Mason University. My fellow faculty members and
I today were reminded by a University administrator of the requirements
of the "Fly America Act." I confess that I’d never before heard of
this statute. As explained by the GMU administrator, this Act
"requires Federal employees and their dependents, consultants,
contractors, grantees, and others performing United States Government
financed foreign air travel to travel by U.S. flag air carriers."
Because college professors often receive research grants from Uncle
Sam, it’s good that administrators at my school warned us not to commit
a federal offense unwittingly by using, say, NSF grant funds to pay for
air travel on the likes of Lufthansa or Taca.
I applaud your
brilliant scheme! Even if it costs taxpayers more money, obviously
this Act helps to protect American carriers from the nefarious
competition of foreign airlines.
But why stop there? I propose
a "Study America Act." The Congressional wisdom and spirit behind the
Fly America Act, I submit, requires also that "Federal employees and
their dependents, consultants, contractors, grantees, and others
performing United States Government financed research to buy books,
journals, articles, magazines, data sets, and all other scholarly
materials produced only by U.S. scholars" (such as myself).
must hard-working, high-wage American researchers compete against
foreign researchers – a competition that undoubtedly jeopardizes our
nation’s defense? Why, for example, should researchers at the Centers
for Disease Control use American tax dollars to pay for subscriptions
to the British medical journal The Lancet? Doing so shrinks the market
for American medical research and thereby hurts America’s health-care
industry and, ultimately, America’s children. Or why should federally
funded social-science researchers use tax dollars to buy books on
international trade written by foreigners when my own book on
globalization will soon be out? My book, I assure you, is as good a
product as any rival tome penned by a foreign scholar.
I look forward to your consideration and response.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Chairman and Professor
Department of Economics
George Mason University