Tom's Take: Buy American — The Beltway Times


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I’m sick of seeing cheap Chinese junk everywhere.  Are you?

I picked China because they’re the most egregious offender, but I could have inserted Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia, or a host of other nations interchangeably.  These far off lands lack our ethic for quality goods, but what they provide is a source of labor so cheap that we would consider their wages equal to slavery were our fellow countrymen to accept those.

We’ve been told having lots of stuff is good because if we keep buying goods, we’ll live a better life and it is good for not just our national economy, but the entire world.  Whether or not making a buck or two a day to make shoes in some third world hellhole represents progress is a questionable debate, but what is beyond doubt is the impact this mindset of thinking cheap and plentiful has had on our nation.

I’m from the Rust Belt.  I’ve driven along the roads with lines of closed up factories falling further into decay.  Men and women talk about how they made more dollar for dollar twenty or even thirty years ago working one job than they do struggling to get by with two part time gigs today.  They are the victims of globalism, and the price we’ve paid for these cheap goods is the hopelessness and poverty they fight to stave off.

How do we change that?

Trump must do his part and negotiate trade agreements where American goods are allowed to compete fairly on foreign shores.  Countries like China regularly make it impossible for foreign goods to enter their market even as they actively subsidize their own businesses to spread their items around the world.  It is patently unfair to ask Americans to compete against not just cut wages, but also government support through subsidy as well as currency manipulation.

But even the best government policies won’t change a thing until as Americans we think more critically about our own purchasing habits.  If instead of buying the most stuff, we bought the better stuff, maybe we might take another look at buying American and each make a difference individual by putting our money where our mouths have been during this campaign.

A personal example:  I went out and bought a new pair of sneakers in the post-Christmas scuffle.  I could have waited, could have looked for the absolute lowest price, but caring about my feet and my country, I made an ethical decision.  I went to the New Balance store, knowing they are a product that doesn’t only sell here, but manufactures here, and gave them the chance to earn my business.  I found a quality shoe at a fair price which I proudly bought.

They were bold enough to go out and express optimism about America First, taking a lot of heat from the anti-American left for doing so.  I respect integrity and patriotism.  They’ve earned a customer.  If the product holds up, they’ll keep me, and maybe an American family keeps their job and less Chinese junk will pollute our shelves.  That’s hope and change worth fighting to achieve.

We have great power when we begin to realize the world responds to our needs in many real ways.  You make choices you don’t even realize you have when you look past the details.

In that, I leave you this challenge:  Look where your items are coming from, and when it makes sense, buy American.  When things start being “Made in the USA” once more, only good things will happen.  That’s how you help make America great again.

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  • mackelby

    Great read. One question though. Can Americans afford American made products. At work we got a grant to build a new research building. The grant said American made only parts. Most of what we needed isn’t built in the USA. Had to rewrite grant, took an extra 2 years. The unions need to be destroyed before buying American will work.

    • Tom

      Thanks Mackelby.

      It is a challenge as there are many products not currently made in the United States. At present, people will have to import certain items, but the best way to change that situation might be to employ government purchasing in a way that favors American sourcing.

      Once the government mandates any necessary good be made in America, some entrepreneur will seize that opportunity and invest or expand their product line. There will be certainly be an initial price premium as the company provided the previously unavailable item seeks to recoup their investment, but over time, the American firm will be better place to compete in not just the protected government market, but to do so commercially.

      As a general observation, the other thing American firms must do to compete internationally against cheap labor is wisely employ automation and be sure to provide superior service and a more durable product. We can’t win the race to the bottom no matter how hard we try.

      • mackelby

        At work here we had a grant to build a new facility. Grant said American made products in the construction. Guess what??? Grant had to be re written. Nobody in America made many of the things we needed. Took a 2.5 years longer to finish because of this. The silly thing was when they specked the building and its appointments they knew some of it couldn’t be sourced here. Try not to act surprised, Tom!

        • Tom

          I’m stunned.

          I’m intimately familiar with government contracting and I honestly wonder about some of the people who work there.

          When corruption meets incompetence, the outcomes are amazing. And yet they get to play with millions.

          Let’s hope Trump knows that too and reels in some of the fat. I understand people have to make something, but we’re way over the line of reasonability.

      • mackelby

        Don’t forget automation destroys 10 average jobs to create 2 or 3 good paying jobs to keep automation working. Net loss. We need to get unions out of ALL gov’t contracts.