Dependence on foreign imports poses threat to national security

Column by Megan Vazmina

The United States imported $5.3 million worth of American flags in 2006 — and about 94 percent of that money went to China, according to a U.S. Census press release.

The latest video from Osama Bin Laden shows the world is still riddled with conflict. President George W. Bush, in response to the tape, reminded us that it is a “dangerous world in which we live.”

National security is not just a matter of physically protecting our nation from terrorist attacks. Ultimately, it comes down to changing the way that this country functions.

While the brave soldiers of this country are trying to protect us from foreign invaders who threaten to harm us, our culture is fast becoming one that depends on low-cost foreign goods. If the stability of the world were to ever falter — if for some unspeakable reason the United States were forced to sanction countries such as China — our economy could break down.

Chinese imports totaled $288 billion in 2006, according to U.S. Census Foreign Trade Statistics. That is nearly three times that of 2000 and a staggering 45 times that of 20 years ago. The only country we import more goods from is Canada.

I’m not suggesting that we stop trading with foreign countries because that goes against the capitalistic principles of our country. Additionally, it would be extremely difficult and naturally more expensive to produce everything at home.

However, with the surge of recalls of Chinese-made products, it becomes important to consider just how much a cheaper product costs. Toothpaste, dog food and toys, among other products, have been recalled this year because of safety issues — and of all the recalls that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has made this year, nearly 60 percent were of Chinese-made products.

Would it be worth a few extra dollars to avoid potential toxins in a product? Has our country become so materialistic that saving money trumps our health?

As a college student, I know that every dollar matters, so I’m not suggesting that everyone here switch to purchasing American goods only. What I’m suggesting is that when possible, you should consider American products rather than automatically choosing foreign counterparts. Your money wouldn’t be leaving the country as it would if you were purchasing a product made elsewhere, by a company that doesn’t pay taxes in this country. Instead it would be reinvested in our own economy, an economy that our generation will have to shape.

In a world where conflicts seem to be constantly escalating, it’s important for the United States to become less economically dependent on other nations. As of now, if anything happens with the countries we import from or if sanctions need to be issued, our country’s economy will be greatly affected.

Because the United States is so economically dependent on other nations, diplomacy is vital. But there is always the lingering possibility that maybe decisions are not made to ensure the sanctity of our nation, but instead the thickness of our wallets.

Megan Vazmina is a political science senior. E-mail opinions@kykernel.