For many Americans, outsourcing begins in the driveway

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There is nothing more ironic than seeing how both the left and right are seizing upon this outsourcing argument.

For one thing, the trend of outsourcing jobs started long before Barack Obama and Mitt Romney ever held elected office or even left the womb.

Roman emperor Julius Caesar outsourced everything from military conquests, tax collections, fire departments. In the late 1700s, Adam Smith in his book “The Wealth of Nations,” advocated the idea of competitive advantage. This is the idea that rich nations could cut down on costs and get cheaper labor if they outsourced work to less developed nations.

However, as the politicians battle it out over the airwaves to blame one another for outsourcing jobs, Americans may be supporting the cause of outsourcing just by some of the purchases we Americans make.

An informal survey conducted by U.S. News and World Report’s ranking’s site surveyed over 500 people around the last election cycle to see if what type of car they drove hinted at their political leanings. Forty-five percent of people identified as Democrat and 42 percent identified as Republican. The remaining 13 percent identified as unaffiliated or Independent.

The survey found import cars to be a more popular choice among Democrats than Republicans. Seventy-one percent of Democrats claimed to drive a foreign car. Hatchbacks like the Toyota Prius ranked as one of the most popular choices for a vehicle among Democrats. However, even the number of Republicans who owned imported vehicles outnumbered the number of Republicans who owned domestic vehicles-57 percent of Republicans claimed to drive a foreign car. Among Republicans, pick-up trucks appeared to be the most popular make for a vehicle.

In the luxury market, Democrats chose Acura while Republicans preferred Lexus. Republicans were also slightly more likely than Democrats to drive German cars. Republicans embraced their BMWs and Porsches while Democrats were more likely to ride in a Mercedes-Benz or Volkswagen.

The fact of the matter is that regardless of whether Americans lean Republican or Democrat, most people in the United States tend to support the outsourcing of our automobile industry when they buy foreign vehicles.

Nick Walker, the founder of the car enthusiast website Mind over Motor said that many American consumers developed “brand loyalties” to foreign brands from 1973 to well into the 1990s because the quality of most American cars did not match what Asian and European companies had to offer.

“Foreign offerings continue to be strong, so upsetting this loyalty has not been easy despite vastly improved automobiles from the big three since 2008,” Walker said.

However, the American market has tried to push out new products that can compete in today’s global market.

GM is set to release new models of the Cadillac, Camaro and the Corvette. Ford is coming out with new models of the Focus and the Fiesta, which has already seen some demand in European markets.

Walker said that if these companies market their cars well, they might be able to shake this stigma.

“People want to buy American, but only if the products are genuinely quality goods in comparison to other offerings,” Walker said, “Each company, American or foreign, has their own responsibility to make competitive products.”

The issue of outsourcing remains a thorn in the side of many companies regardless of who will win in 2012. If our own car companies are competing in the global market, will foreign car companies setting up in the U.S. make up for the outsourcing of our American products?

“While many American companies are outsourcing jobs abroad, many foreign companies are investing and making cars here in the U.S., so that begs the question: what exactly is buying American these days? It is not as simple as the brand of a car anymore, parts of cars are made all over the world now…regardless of where final assembly happens,” Walker said.

Katherine Rodriguez at

Katherine Rodriguez

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