Submitted by Stacey Pickering

Last thing we need is for Congress to risk our American technology edge and put something such as our electronic health records at risk of abuse.

It’s an obvious, glaring vulnerability. The United States and many of our allies have grown increasingly dependent on bad actor countries such as Russia and China for some of our critical daily functions.

COVID exposed it to the cable news talking heads and the Russian invasion of Ukraine reinforced it, but this is not a new development. Many years ago, American manufacturers sent their production abroad seeking cheaper labor and less burdensome regulators.

Initially, China made cheap toys and low-skill apparel products but moved to electronics and now are threatening to take the lead in pharma, telecom and technology with their sights on artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics, biotech, semiconductor and chip making.

The United States prides itself on “made in America”, but we are not what we were. American manufacturers and innovators have serious supply chain issues with their dependency on raw materials, parts and even expertise to produce final products. This is compounded by American labor issues and overregulation from Washington politicians who unwittingly (no matter how good intentions) throw cold water on American innovation and production.

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, even Western Europe is taking steps to address their dependency on Russian energy and raw materials realizing it’s not only bad economically, but dangerous. They have no idea if Putin will be satisfied with Ukraine or if he will attempt to “re-take” more former Soviet republics.

Meanwhile, might China decide now is the time to take Taiwan, since Western countries are understandably concerned about starting “World War III”?

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party oppose America and other free countries. Just recently, China has amplified Russian propaganda that atrocities of civilian killings in Bucha, Ukraine, are nothing but a hoax to mislead the West, and the Chinese have parroted the Kremlin’s claims that Russia is freeing Ukraine from neo-Nazis in Kyiv.

However, many in the U.S. Congress can’t see the forest for the trees. They seem so eager to punish American tech companies for success, political bias or censorship that they are pushing anti-trust legislation that would harm and potentially break-up American tech firms while assisting China in its objective to lead the global tech market. It is not complicated to see that breaking up American tech leaders would weaken America’s economy, cybersecurity and even electronic health records.

As the Executive Director of the Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board, I oversee and manage Mississippi’s four Veteran Homes that care for approximately 600 veterans. This makes me well aware of the critical nature of keeping our electronic health records safe and secure.

We know the United States is already dependent on China and other foreign adversaries for supply chain needs, raw materials, medicines and much more, so the last thing we need is for Congress to pass legislation that would risk our American technology edge and put something such as our electronic health records at risk of abuse.

We need America and Congress to get this right. We must recognize countries such as China and Russia don’t share our values or interests. America must ensure that we don’t become even more dependent on them.

I am confident our Mississippi Congressional delegation understands what’s at stake, and I urge Mississippians to encourage our U.S. Senators and Representatives to get this right. Ask them to protect America’s interest and reject political legislative overreach that would only weaken American innovation and strengthen the very countries who oppose us.

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Submitted by Stacey Pickering. He is Executive Director of the Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board and former State Auditor of Mississippi.