Thursday, March 31, 2011

Buy American

This is a difficult subject for me to address, because I want American to be strong.  Unfortunately I seem to be arriving at the opinion that buying American because a product says "Made in America" on it is not the way.  I will detail some of the reason I feel that way below and I welcome respectful and thoughtfully worded discussion in the comments.

Just because a product says "Made in America" does not mean that all of the money paid for that product stays in America.  It could have been made by a foreign company, which has a manufacturing plant in America..  It could have been made by an American company that outsources much of it work to foreign countries, but manufactured the item in America.

Just because a product says "Made in China" or whatever other non-American country it might be does not mean there aren't American jobs that rely on that product.  I think we often just look at the manufacturing jobs that are gained or lost and forget that a company has other jobs that they pay for.  Those jobs might be being performed by Americans.

Sometimes I hear people complain about how little people in other countries make to produce our cheap clothing.  If we take the position that we don't buy those products to show that we don't want them paying low wages to people then those people make the equivalent to $0 instead of just what ever they were making before that was more than $0.  Saying to only buy things made in America has the same effect.  I do believe that we have to take care of those closest to us first, but still something to think about.

What about vacations?  Should we only vacation in The United States.  Tourism is a big industry and if we vacation outside The United States we are giving tourism jobs to other countries and taking work away from Americans.

As said at the beginning of this post, I want a strong America.  I think that taking the position that people must buy "American" just because it is American or says "Made in America" on it does not make us stronger.  American is stronger when we compete.  If we do it better then we will be strong.  If American companies only can make sales by virtue of being an American company and not from innovating, then America is weaker.  The Declaration of Independence tells us that we have the right to the pursuit of happiness.  It does not say we have the right to happiness.  We have to pursue and catch it ourselves.

One area where I do think we need to "Buy American" is in private charitable contributions.  I think we as individuals spend too much money on causes overseas rather than establishing private programs to educate our own people.  We spend a ton on building schools in far off places.  How about privatize the school system and then the American people donate money to support it?

If our population is well educated, then we will be competitive in the market place.

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