I have be doing this Made in America movement since 2011. I thought it was time to re-examine whether in 2016 is “Made in America” reasonable to follow. Obviously, the big corporations and their paid politicians think this “Made in America” movement is silly. I mean what else can be better than cheap imports? We measure our economy by how the US spends its income, so, obviously with corporate profits bulging (which is all that matters to the big corporations) and people buying cheap useless stuff – all would appear to be rosy.
In some respects they are correct, after The Great Recession, there has been: 70 months of net job growth, an addition of 14 million private sector jobs, 1-2% GDP growth and people filing for unemployment benefits was the l0west in 42 years (1973 – even lower than the incredible Clinton years), The US has added more jobs than it lost in the Great Recession, unemployment rate is 4.9%, things, indeed, do appear rosy.
But all is not as rosy as it appears, it is because the American public knows there is something fundamentally wrong. And we will examine this.
The Major Reasons why People Buy American
There are three main reasons why people buy American: 1) America produces great quality products; 2) Buying American is good for the American economy and stops outsourcing of American jobs; and 3) ethical concerns such as child labor, slave labor or human trafficked workers, unsafe products, unsafe food, countries that blithely pollute the environment.
#1 Americans want great quality products
Most people want quality products, of course, there are people who insist on the cheapest, but then that is what The Dollar Stores are for. Even tourists from China often want quality American made products. Good luck in finding them.
What are Quality Products?
Quality products means that products do what they are supposed to do reliably and consistently (and fashionably). Who wants a Christmas toy that breaks down the first time you use it? Who wants to have to replace a piece of apparel because it looks awful after a couple of washes? Clothing should look good year after year and not just thrown in the dump after wearing it once. Not all objects should be disposable. With quality products, one will actually save money over time.
Why Are American Products Considered Higher Quality?
In general, American products have more oversight, more inspections and higher expectations, the results are higher quality products. American workers are adults (as compared to many countries where child labor is the norm) and are considered to be decently paid (as compared to their foreign counterparts). American pride is part of what makes quality higher. No company likes to be on the news for making inferior products, and some feel that making a quality product will establish customer loyalty.
#2 Buying American is Good for the American Economy
As we mentioned earlier, the American public feels that there is something fundamentally wrong with the current American economy. The traditional American economy meant good paying jobs, making American made products and service jobs that sold these American products. Products were a little more expensive, but they were quality and the jobs paid so well, that only one person working a full-time job not only had benefits but made enough to buy a house and support a wife and three children. This was still present in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Beginning of the End
The beginning of the end started in 1980. The US economy was so strong that economists thought they could do anything, in fact, what they tried was down right radical. First, they made businesses completely independent of government. Never mind that the Federal, State and City governments had created an incredible infrastructure for these businesses run easily and efficiently. By making the government stand back – businesses were able to to practice extreme capitalism: 1)monopolies, 2) huge chains,and 3) volume discounters which decimated millions of small businesses, making laborers out of people who used to run small businesses. Just look at today’s landscapes, millions of strip malls which could be in any city in the U.S. (there are no countries in the world that have copied this.)
More extreme Capitalism
Further Extreme Capitalism: Greed became the norm. Profits and stock prices became all that matter. Growth and employee loyalty became obsolete. Benefits were cut. Full-time became rare. All companies severely trimmed their (American) work force and made their remaining employees work harder and cheaper even when they were making incredible profits.
Globalization and Free Trade
Globalization and Free Trade were the forces that further destroyed the US economy. Globalization made it easy to communicate and transfer products easily from one end of the world to the other. Free Trade (NAFTA, World Trade Organization) eliminated taxes on products coming into the U.S., together with the elimination of quotas, allowed tons of foreign cheap products to undersell American products. So, big companies closed down American plants, with the help of tax breaks to help move their companies, made China the # 8 in the world’s economy in 1999, into the number one economy in 2015.
Even California had a bigger GDP than China in 1999.
The Process where American jobs were shipped to other countries is called off-shoring.
The Result of Extreme Capitalism
Thirty five years of this extreme capitalism has made the American people very angry. (See Angry Esquire survey). The American middle class is getting smaller. The wealth gap between the rich and the middle class and poor has not been this big since 1927. For every new dollar in profit in the past 5 years, 97% went to the top 1% in income. Middle class wages are stagnant. The ability to climb the ladder by going to college is hindered by rapidly escalating college tuition. And even the ones that go to college, the pay is less.(See NY Times: Year 2015 in charts).
For the ones not going to college, good paying jobs are as rare as white rhinocerosis, American manufacturing (traditionally good paying jobs) has lost eight million jobs since 2000. Also, more people have dropped out of the work force at any time since 1977. (See NY Times: Year 2015 in charts). For each paying job, the number of applicants has multiplied, no longer are you competing against people in your community but also against candidates from other states and countries, thanks to globalization. And the future shows that many current jobs are potentially off-shorable (moved to other countries) or technologized (replaced by machines) -like cars they drive themselves or drones that deliver packages. Doesn’t the United States already have the worst service ever – just go to any Home Depot or Wal-Mart a find a person to help you.
Another victim of extreme capitalism has been the rural community. In the rural community, jobs were provided traditionally by farming, however, farming jobs had been displaced by technology and giant machines (only 1% of people now call themselves farmers). What took its place was manufacturing with its cheaper labor, but then the Free Trade Agreements caused off-shoring of the manufacturing jobs to foreign nations, leaving many rural towns as manufacturing ghost towns. And manufacturing is not coming back. There has not been much optimism for the future of rural communities.
An Unexpected Result From Extreme Capitalism
Once Big corporations and Big Banks became extremely wealthy, the ability to change things soon became severely compromised as corporate interests have put such a stranglehold on government that corporations are now considered people, with religious rights and are able to put in unlimited amounts of money to buy elections. Special corporate interests have been able to undercut extremely popular laws to the point that we no longer know where our meat comes from: The Official End to Country of Origin Labels on Meat.
Anger Due to Extreme Capitalism Economic Policies
The current economic condition has caused anger for millenials who see a harder time to get to the American Dream, for Democrats who have been against all of these policies of extreme capitalism and, more recently, a subsegment of the Republican Party. The Republican Party has been the Party of Large Corporations and Big Banks since 1910, they wrote all the laws of extreme capitalism. However, the Republican economic policies have hurt all of their constituents that aren’t part of the 1%. So, in response, the angry subsegment support a blow-hard, born-millionaire (like Mitt Romney) who promises more tax breaks for the rich. Go figure. If everybody stood back and looked a what extreme capitalism has done to our great country, the only Republicans left would be the 1%. But they control all the media, they control our high ranking officials, so they have been doing OK.
How Does The Buy American Movement Help the American Economy
By buying American – you are keeping other Americans employed, it may be a neighbor, in may be yourself. The Made in American movement believes that there should be more American manufacturing and not less. For every new American manufacturing job created, another 3.5 new American jobs are also created. For every dollar paid for a Made in America product, another $3 dollars goes into the economy. Compared to every dollar spent on a foreign made product, $0.40 goes into the economy. If every American spent a measly $3.33 per year on Made in USA products, it would create 10,000 new American jobs, and if it were $64 per year, another 200,000 American jobs would be created.
By buying American, we decrease our dependence on imports, we decrease our trade deficit which is now $384 Billion for 2015 with China which has cost the US 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2001 just due to the trade deficit (according to the Economic Policy Initiative).
#3 Ethical Concerns
We all know that many third world countries have very little or no supervision, and even the people who look into corruption are corrupt themselves (Evidence of Corruption in Chinese Anti-corruption Industries). In most of these cheaper labor countries – the workers can be slave laborers (Thai Shrimp Laborers tied to Slave Labor) or child laborers which is legal in all of these countries. It has been illegal in the USA since 1938. (Actually it was first passed under Woodrow Wilson in 1916, then The Supreme Court overturned the law, and it took Franklin Delano Roosevelt to finally get the measure passed [despite adamant GOP opposition]).
The International Labor Organization estimates that 211 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are engaged in forced child labor, the majority involving exposures to hazardous conditions. Child labor is the direct result not only of poverty, but also our demand for low-cost goods. It is our responsibility as consumers to be educated and take necessary steps toward preventing the support of child labor through our purchases.
We know that food and products from these slave labor countries can be unsafe due to little supervision or because they use harmful chemicals that are prohibited in the US.
We, also, know that these slave-labor countries, cities and manufacturing plants do not care about the environment and pollute the air, the ground and the water indiscriminately. And by buying these imported cheap and disposable products made in tremendous bulk that we are stripping our away our natural resources and filling up our landfills. Remember there is only one earth. A great film that touches on much of these ethical concerns is “The True Cost” (you can rent it for $3.99).
By Buying American, you are sending your vote to ethical standards, clean earth, and sustainability. You are standing up for the American economy and you are getting quality products in return.
Yes, I think it is still worth the fight. Buy American, stop offshoring American jobs.