given the choice between buying a mediocre product, a small proportion of which was made locally, and spending a bit more to buy a superior product that was assembled a couple hundred miles away, i know what i'd choose: the quality product. some people disagree—and that's fine, except when they take on a tone of moral superiority about it.
yes, hold on to your hats, folks—i'm defending mayor greg ballard here.
ballard recently followed through on his campaign promise to replace some of the city's police cars with hybrids. he chose to buy camrys, but he's been getting flak from some (including some who should know better) for not buying chevy malibus instead.
the malibu hybrid was introduced in 2008. its gas mileage isn't much better than a standard gas-powered car. it's cheap. some of its parts are made in indy and nearby bedford. in contrast, the camry is more expensive, but gets much better gas mileage—so, when you factor in the gas savings over the next few years, the camry is actually a better investment. toyota is a japanese company, but the actual cars are made in our neighboring state to the south, kentucky.
seems like a simple decision to me: pick the better car with better mileage. but some are complaining quite vocally. the local chevy dealer whose bid lost out has been crying to the media about it—apparently he believed that he deserved to win the bid, just because his cars' sticker price was lower.
most offensive of all is the union rep who seemingly tries to blame the city for pending layoffs at his plant. i'm generally a union supporter, but dude, the city's order of 85 cars would not have been enough business to prevent layoffs at your plant. the economy is in the tank, and while japanese companies were planning for the future by designing hybrids, american companies kept pumping out SUVs. as a result, japanese hybrids are simply better. maybe that'll change in a few years as american hybrids catch up, but for now, them's the breaks, and nothing mayor ballard does will change that.
the concept of buying locally is that you can often get fresher, higher-quality products from local businesses rather than having stuff shipped in from afar (which is both expensive and bad for the environment). and if the camrys were being shipped in from japan, perhaps it would make sense in this case. but pretending that a chevy malibu is a "local product" simply because a few of its parts were made here (and then shipped out of state to be assembled) is a stretch. and even if it were truly local, the mayor is under no obligation to buy an inferior product simply because it's local. otherwise, the police might as well buy cheap, homemade guns and handcuffs, too. because, hell, they're locally made, right? ¶