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More on Real Versus Fake Wants

Here’s a letter to Intissar Guettou, who is with ReportLinker

Thanks for e-mailing your press release announcing the results of a survey showing that “57% of Americans are ready to pay more for ‘Made in USA’ products.”

Alas, I’m confident that these survey results are utterly unreliable.  The reason for my confidence is that Americans are now, and have always been, free to pay more for “Made in USA” products (which, as you surely know, really only means “Final-assembly-occurred-in-USA” products).  Yet American consumers consistently choose not to pay more for such products.

The fact that American consumers, when given the actual choice – and when spending their own money – choose to buy so many lower-priced foreign-assembled household products that few American companies can today successfully compete to be the final assemblers of these products is proof as good as it gets that Americans really do not want to pay higher prices for “Made in USA” products.

The only “wants” that are trustworthy guides for what should reign in reality are wants that people are willing to pay for.  To want something that you are unwilling to pay for is to want something the value of which is not worth its cost.  Such a something, indeed, is something that you really do not want.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030