Ground Clutter

Feb. 15, 2008
Chinese Puzzle

A few weeks ago Cessna announced that its new LSA — the Cessna SkyCatcher, a.k.a. Model 162 — would be built in China. All hell broke loose. The company has been inundated with comments, about half in favor and half against. Some of the “anti” group was very anti indeed, and even mad about it.

Cessna decided a response was needed, so Cessna Marketing VP Tom Anielo wrote an “open letter” explaining and defending the decision to build in China. I thought it was a great explanation of the free market and globalization, and think Cessna made a good choice. (You can see and decide for yourself at

Folks, there is, as my Dad used to say, “one true fact” about globalization: It is here. Neither you nor I can stop it. We don’t need to waste our time trying to decide if we like it or not. We don’t need to decide if we will participate — we will. We do need to decide how we can excel in the global free market, because we must. We must ride or get ridden by this horse.

Cessna determined that the SkyCatcher could not be built in this country for a cost that would make it a competitive product. Cessna’s choice was simple: Does it want to compete in the LSA field? If so, it had to make it elsewhere.

If it had taken the other choice — not build it at all — Cessna and the country would make no money at all on the SkyCatcher. Instead, Cessna has employed — here in the U.S.A. —engineers and others to design the SkyCatcher. It will be sold worldwide, and some of the revenue will come back to Kansas. The engines and many other parts will be made here, producing additional revenue for U.S.A. manufacturers. New people worldwide will learn to fly in SkyCatchers, and hopefully develop that determined Cessna loyalty once created by the Cessna 120, 140, 150, and 152.

The truth is that we must compete globally. That means that we must buy goods, services, and components as inexpensively as possible or we will lose in the marketplace. It’s that simple.

Some things we will not be able to make as cheaply as we can import. We will have to buy those things elsewhere while we compete in other areas in which we can compete and win. Some seem to think we can build a fence around our country and make a living buying and selling to each other. We can’t. In fact, we have pretty much proved we can’t (or won’t) even keep out drugs and illegal immigrants.

Even if we could keep out foreign goods and services, why? We’d end up producing many things that would cost our citizens more than if they bought them on the global free market. The cost of a tariff is not just the taxes charged, but also the total amount overpaid by all of our citizens.

As the saying goes, ‘Let freedom ring’.