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Letter: Trade Deficits and Buying Locally


We are in the midst of an economic war. Our individual purchases count. There are so many trade deficits to foreign countries. We must look upon our individual purchases and avoid buying from other countries from now on. Our individual choices matter. Choose local. If you cannot, make and grow things on your own effort. Learn, adapt, and survive to the local environment.

We are in a war. Win.

What are your thoughts? God Bless – S.M.

HJL Replies:

Sadly, it’s not quite as simple as that. There are several things to think about when you purchase items. Let me be clear that I support the use of local economies whenever you can. It’s good for the people. However, in many, if not most, situations, buying local means you are going to pay a premium price. I’m certainly okay with that as long as the quality of the object I’m buying is top quality. If it’s food, I want meat and produce that are better than what I can buy out of a grocery store chain. If it’s a car, I want one what will not be in the shop very much or make me fear that it will leave me stranded somewhere or worse. You get the idea. If I can’t buy better quality locally than I can from a different source, I’m going to look elsewhere. I do not believe in paying a premium price for inferior quality. I will still look for quality “Made in the USA”. However, if a better quality product is available from a foreign source at a better price, I will certainly look at that option.

The idea of buying locally isn’t so that local merchants get a pass on competition. It is so that they have a fighting chance to compete on quality rather than quantity. That being said, there are some things where quantity/price is the deciding factor. It really comes down to being good stewards of your resources. Also, trade deficits only exist when you are looking at one part of the overall equation. I’d recommend Ben Shapiro’s recent podcast [1] that covers the current administration’s trade policy for a good explanation.

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#1 Comment By Jason On March 9, 2018 @ 12:26 pm

I personally do not subscribe to the idea that I should be buying locally just for the sake of buying locally. 99 times out of 100, buying locally will cost you significantly more. I believe in competition and the free market. Hugh is correct, one has to look holistically at a purchase and weigh whether the product made locally is superior in quality, and whether that superior quality is worth the price increase. Otherwise, it’s simply throwing good money after bad. Also, given the conflagration of global markets, very few things in this world are sourced, assembled, and produced in the United States. So while the hammer you buy at your local hardware store may say “made in America”, in all likelihood the steel was imported from China, shaped in Mexico, and shipped to Wisconsin where it was put together and claimed to be “Made in America”. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for buying American and supporting local economy, but I’m not going to throw away my money.

The one exception I make here are local gun stores. I will not give a dime to any store that does not 100% support all aspects of the 2A.

#2 Comment By Don Williams On March 9, 2018 @ 1:18 pm

1) Politics is business and business is war. I think people really need to realize that when they buy things they sometimes are paying for the chains that enslave them.

2) Amazon has driven thousands of small, local businesses out of existence by not collecting the local and state taxes that local business have to pay. Instead of the money going to local police, fire departments, roads,etc the money went to Seattle, Making Jeff Bezos one of the richest billionaires on the planet.

3) Jeff Bezos, in turn, sunk a portion of that wealth into the Washington Post — which from day 1 has been trying to undermine the President elected by 120 million Americans . Doing so by a continuous , year long barrage of deeply dishonest news coverage. As I have noted before, lies of omission are just as effective as outright falsehoods.

4) The latest example being the Washington Post’s attack on tariffs Trump has imposed to help American workers. Somehow the Post doesn’t think it important to inform its readers that our net debt to foreigners exploded from $2 Trillion to over $8 TRILLION on Obama’s watch. That’s almost half of our GDP — the total of what we produce every year.


NOTE how that downward fall has reversed since Trump took office. Have your seen the Post saying anything about that?

NOTE also that $3 TRILLION of that debt held by foreigners is US Treasuries — sold by Obama to fund the Big Bailout of his Wall Street and Big Banker donors.


That $3 Trillion is just part of the $10 Trillion in federal debt incurred under Obama’s signature. Money no longer available to care for our sick, the poor and the elderly–

Money no longer available to cover the $50 Trillion in unfunded Social Security/Medicare promises the Democrats made to retiring baby boomers — who paid a lot into those mythical “accounts” for 45 years.

5) Somehow Jeff Bezos’ Post doesn’t think it important to note how Democrat neoliberal claptrap is plunging the American People into debt slavery to foreigners. Anyone remember Bill Clinton telling us in 1999 that we would get rich selling GM cars to the Chinese if we just opened up trade with China? How is that working out?

Even the DEMOCRAT Huffington Post has acknowledged the misery dumped on us by Bill Clinton’s evil sellouts:



6) Jeff Bezos , of course, loves Clinton’s globalization. He doesn’t care about America so long as he can add to his billions — and avoid American taxes by keeping profits overseas. Well, aside from a few million he has to bring back to bribe his Congressional prostitutes. Jeff’s concern for his fellow countrymen is shown by the sweatshops he runs:

#3 Comment By benjammin On March 9, 2018 @ 2:18 pm

There are two reasons I buy locally, quality and convenience. However, that only accounts for some of my purchases.

First, in the quality department, I buy locally for anything I am going to put up, assuming I don’t grow it myself. Last year I sourced 100% of my ingredients for all my canning needs from our farmer’s market. Not only was it all at the peak of season freshness when it was canned, but most of it was certified organic; not something I intended, just that extra measure the local growers are willing to go to. In Alaska, it was the same way. Whatever I canned I either grew, picked out of the field of a local grower, or bought from a farmer’s market. There’s no point in canning produce from the grocery store unless they are going to locally source it, like the Co-op does. Consequently, my chow-chow is a hot commodity at work, especially during the cold and flu season.

Half of the meat in the freezer is from a cow that was raised and butchered locally. Most of the eggs I get are from a local source. Dairy is another issue, since that is more closely regulated and not so many producers to choose from. My stock of wheat, lentils, pintos, and split peas are all sourced from growers I know and purchased directly.

Even so, all of this is only about half of the food we consume, the rest comes from the grocery store in boxes, cans, bottles, and bags. That is where the convenience comes in. I still shop at the neighborhood grocer for most all sundries and cleaning supplies and such. I could go down to the big box stores, and sometimes I do, but when you need a case of paper plates, that’s what you do. For small one-off items, it is more convenient to pay the extra 5% to not have to drive half an hour in to the big city.

For the hard to find items, I do Amazon like everyone else.

#4 Comment By Kris On March 9, 2018 @ 2:22 pm

There was not a comment section for Mr. Rawles’ post regarding holding Swiss francs. I wanted to make sure he and others knew that from time to time the Swiss retire some series of their currency, rendering the bank notes worthless. For example, a series first issued in 1976 will become invalid in 2020. It can be exchanged for new bills prior.

#5 Comment By Not So Free On March 11, 2018 @ 1:56 am

I read a story a while back where an elderly Swiss woman had cash that she had been saving for many years. When she went to deposit it, she was told it was expired.
No amount of mention in the press would sway the government to exchange it for new cash.

How do we tell which ones are going to die? Is it only the issue date on the bill?
Can you still buy them in the U S with cash at the bank? (“assuming” the bank you pick actually carries them.) Or would that be considered ‘suspicious activity’?

There have been stories for quite a while that the Fed is going to come out with new currency to force out the cash cache (see what I did there?) so they can track it.

#6 Comment By Lee On March 9, 2018 @ 3:10 pm

I agree with HJL perspective on buying local.
Conserving our funds so we can remain free is a consideration. I also try to really think about why I am buying anything.
Buying local for me also means supporting like minded small business people that I have a community relationship with. I remember a time when we knew our butcher, baker and local gun shop owner. I can make my own candles. Local business owners love cash!
If I cannot afford something I will save for it or shop estate and garage sales. I only shop big box when there is no other option.
Last note, liberty, freedom, and my walk with Christ requires that I stay debt free to earthly business.

#7 Comment By CORD7 On March 9, 2018 @ 3:17 pm

BTW as far as tariffs & deficits go… one, deficits aren’t necessarily bad and secondly tariffs are simply another form of “wealth REdistribution”.
For example – one would think by the way the media spins the story our steel industry has been decimated. Actually, the US is fourth (4th) in world production of steel and the US only uses about three percent (3%) of that production for our needs.
Free trade is what spurs competition and better prices.
The opposite is true when our government chooses winners & losers.

#8 Comment By Phil McKenna On March 9, 2018 @ 9:00 pm

I purchase locally as often as possible, however it is difficult even in some farmers markets to get truly locally sourced produce. Be aware that some markets have people who buy wholesale and sell retail as locally sourced produce. We’ve had some investigations in the Great White North recently and found that it is still “Buyer Beware”
Know your local growers and confirm their products. TTFN

#9 Comment By Jay On March 9, 2018 @ 9:04 pm

I agree with buying locally / US made/ constitutional (2nd amendment) friendly whenever possible. (no exception on the constitution issues). My partner recently joined AARP, related to her health insurance. I was not happy but I have turned that lemon into lemon aid. AARP offers many discounts SOOOOooo we utilize the discounts, and we split (50/50) the savings between us and a special fund. I then use the special fund when I am at a gun dealer and find someone making a purchase who in not a member of the NRA. I offer to fund his first one year membership. Thanks AARP.

#10 Comment By Anonymous On March 9, 2018 @ 10:57 pm

Black Pidgon Speaks has the best explanation of the trade war. One that we have been losing for some time, purposely it appears.


#11 Comment By WyoDutch On March 9, 2018 @ 11:38 pm

We run a medium sized poultry (heritage chicken and turkey) operation in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Our products include pickled eggs, turkey bone broth, eggs, and of course, live and dressed birds. Everything is pasture raised without vaccines, antibiotics or pig innards. Our prices are about half of what similar products are going for on the internet. You would think we’d be doing a land-rush business wouldn’t you? Au contraire mon frère… we are lucky to break even most weeks.

Our biggest marketing obstacle is the ignorance of the average consumer. Most Americans think a pasture raised chicken is no different than the garbage they buy over at the Big Mart. We price our fresh eggs at 3 dozen for a ten dollar bill, but most of our eggs go in the trash because people buy the so-called “eggs” from the supermarket.

They’re not bad people… just ignorant.

#12 Comment By Sam Wise On March 10, 2018 @ 5:32 pm

Is it possible to list your contact info?

#13 Comment By tz On March 11, 2018 @ 7:24 pm

I’m assuming you are in Wyoming.
I’ve never heard of you. But Wyoming is a wide, open space.
I’d love to buy eggs and chicken from you, but I don’t know where you are.

There isn’t a good way to do farmers market produce across distances.
There should be.

I’m frustrated I can’t buy good, natural food at times. Except there are nasty laws, I will have to see if I can create an exchage.

Meanwhile, I don’t know how, but perhaps something can create an intra-redoubt exchange bulletin board.

#14 Comment By Once a Marine… On March 10, 2018 @ 12:30 am

I prefer to keep my money local as much as possible. Doing so usually means a face-to-face transaction, thus nourishing trust and community. Paying more money is worth it for the personal connection.

My neighbors then have more of a stake in my well-being, unlike the mega-corporations and mail-order peddlers of convenience. Convenience…we will pay big-time for investing in convenience instead of community when the balloon goes up.

Carry on.

#15 Comment By Not So Free On March 10, 2018 @ 4:53 am

Not to mention that you can usually pay in cash. No paper trail.

#16 Comment By ex pat Aussie On March 10, 2018 @ 10:01 am

buying local works as HJL said IF the product is of equal or better value than imported goods, at the moment Mr Trump is signing a deal to protect American jobs, fine, that is his right to do that, that also comes at the expense of tens of thousands of Australian jobs in the steel industry here, we NEED to protect our jobs as well ! Australia is one of the top producers of quality steel in the world thanks to the vast bauxite and Iron ore deposits here in the top end, so who is correct and who is not ?, Australia also ships hundreds of millions in steel to the USA each year, another example regarding buying American goods versus Euro or other countries goods, I practice bushcraft and bush survival, a BK9 is Aus $194.00 here , a Skrama bush knife is Aus $130.00 and that includes a vastly superior sheath than the crap Becker sheath, it’s very obvious even to a biased observer that the Fin made blade out shines value wise the US blade, and all too often that is the case, if the US produced quality items at a price that competes with products that are better made outside the US, then those outside the USA will buy elsewhere, by the way the Euro trading bloc has greater buying power and population than the USA. I don’t care which country produces high quality goods, I DO care about buying quality items.

#17 Comment By D Thomforde. On March 10, 2018 @ 12:11 pm

I buy local when I can for the simple reason that if you do not patronize your local stores and shops, they will disappear and you will be forced to buy from the large chains. I do not however subscribe to the concept that it is my duty to buy someone’s hand made soap so that they can escape the rat race and sing kum by ya. I participate to a limited extent in the farmer’s markets and while they are great, they are not capable of supplying all of our food need nor of supplying the produce for the whole year. I think that being as self sufficient as possible is more important than going thru the motions of buying local. I think that we need to reeducate our selves and realize that if you find a worm in your cabbage when you soak it in salt water, to realize that it is a sign that the crop was indeed not sprayed with insecticide, and not a failure to take proper care in growing the cabbage. Do you really want to eat food that will not support insect life and if so, what side effects might you experience? At least in this area, New England, the large businesses have bought into the organic game and sell you products at inflated costs and I don’t have any idea if they are any better. The large corporations with the aid of the government are rapidly destroying the smaller producers and it doesn’t look like anything short of TSHTF will change things.

#18 Comment By Sara Ellis On March 10, 2018 @ 3:34 pm

WyoDutch – Perhaps you’re not selling as many eggs as you need to because your price is so high. How many folks can afford to pay more than $3 per dozen for eggs when they can buy a dozen for under $2 each at the grocery store? Rather than having to throw them out wouldn’t you do better to adjust the price point in order to sell more and thus “educate” the consumer at the same time?

#19 Comment By Once a Marine… On March 10, 2018 @ 9:03 pm

Buying local means, to me, eating out at restaurants within a three mile radius. Supporting my community, knowing that support comes back to me in unforeseen ways. Had a mens’ breakfast a few hours ago, drawing men from many miles away to raise the wealth of my neighbors.

And, for sure, most of the food I eat is from the garden. Or, at the least from a farm within an hour’s drive.

Carry on.

#20 Comment By Zac On March 11, 2018 @ 12:30 am

Some (many?) local vendors charge so much that I can’t justify buying from them instead of amazon or ebay. For example, I needed a radiator hose (6″ long) for my subaru. The local dealer wanted $21 for it, but I can get the same genuine subaru part for $15 from an ebay or amazon vendor (who appears to be an out-of-state subaru dealer) with free shipping (and no tax) if I order 3 items. The local subaru dealer is charging full list price while the web vendors are at least discounting to the so-called wholesale price they charge business (mechanic) customers. Local vendors of appliance and hvac parts have the same practices so they rarely get my business.

#21 Comment By Technojunkie On March 11, 2018 @ 12:41 am

Food should be sourced as close to home as possible, assuming you’re not raising your own, for many reasons. Depending on thousand-mile supply chains for your food is dangerous. If you can find pasture-based farms or farm co-ops that you can buy from and can afford it, accepting that meat from livestock raised without taxpayer subsidized GMO grains and soy will be more expensive, do it. Besides being higher quality and closer to you, pasture-based farms have far fewer supply chain dependencies of their own and they don’t use the poisons of conventional agriculture. Don’t skimp on food quality unless you have to!

#22 Comment By tz On March 11, 2018 @ 7:30 pm

I’ve found it split, at least outside of the Redoubt.
I’ve bought “American Made” stuff that failed, and had to fight and give up when it failed.
We used to build solid things our great grandchildren could use. You can find them at antique dealers and garage sales.

The problem is I often need a tool for a single use. I’m not going to buy a century quality tool for that over something cheap. But when I want something for daily use I will choose quality.

John Deer makes lawn mowers. Wal-Mart said for them to just brand – label – cheap Chinese made junk with their brand and sell it cheap but at a good profit. They refused. (I hate them because they have a software lock on their tractors, but this is from before that).

Worse, often, as others pointed out, you buy “American” and it is of lower quality. I see pickups older than I am (don’t ask) still going down the road. I don’t see as many newer ones.

ISO 9000 manages to codify and optimize planned obsolecence. If it is supposed to last 10 years, it will blow up after 10 years, instead of something minor failing.

#23 Comment By tz On March 11, 2018 @ 7:40 pm

Stefan Molyneux explains why Trump is right with tariffs