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'Kicking the Consumer'

April 28, 1985

Regarding the controversy about the U.S.-Japan trade imbalance, I would like to add some of my thoughts.

The foreign trade issue is not, as many people have apparently been led to believe, a totally "alien" cause. Many of the problems surrounding the low level of U.S. exports are purely the fault of what I shall term "American arrogance."

For the U.S. auto makers to sell their wares in, for example, Japan, they have to target their product for that market by making the cars right-hand drive and printing the owner's manual in Japanese. Have they done this? Of course not. The Japanese have targeted a major segment of their automotive output toward the U.S. market by making the cars left-hand drive and translating all of the paper work into English.

If the average American were to go into his friendly Nissan dealer to buy a new car, found the owner's manual in Japanese and the car with right-hand drive, as they are in Japan, do you think he (or she) would buy? Of course not. How about the instruction booklets that come with your VCR, portable radio, calculator, stereo amplifier?

No, I place a significant portion of the overall trade imbalance on the American arrogance. There is, however, another significant contributor to the imbalance, and that is the artificially strong dollar created by the need to increase borrowing by high interest rates--to finance that monumental deficit. Again, our problem, not the Japanese.

So let's put the blame where it really belongs, on our federal government and the American businesspersons--and also on the many American people who think that the government has a bottomless wallet and insist on their being taken care of without earning their keep!



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