July always starts with a bang. You have to like a holiday that combines patriotism with barbeques, parties and fireworks. As we celebrate Independence Day it’s a good time to stop and consider the blessings of living in the United States. Our freedoms and standard of living are the envy of the world. The engine that provides our standard of living and makes our country strong is our production of food, goods and services that provide for our needs, employ our fellow citizens and are exported to other countries.
When you shop, do you seek out products manufactured in the U.S.? We often have folks in the store who will ask where products were made and in some cases even refuse to by foreign made goods. That is a noble sentiment, but it may require doing without, since many items are just not made here anymore. For example, clothing and electronics are almost always imported while heavy equipment or the circuits inside products are probably made here.
In fact, it can be difficult to determine what is truly ‘Made in the USA.” A car made by a US manufacturer will have both domestic and imported components, but since it is assembled here, does that make it American made?
At the store, we make a line of carving supplies that I consider to be American made, but I can’t absolutely guarantee that 100%. It is possible that the urethane used for my mallet heads could contain imported chemicals even though they are cast in Iowa. So what does “Made in the USA” mean these days? If you can’t find products that are entirely made here is there some percentage that qualifies? Would more than 50% be enough?
It almost seems like the country that made everything is on the brink of making nothing. From cars to clothes to computers, it can be hard to find goods that are still American made. Take heart – the United States is still the world’s largest economy and can out-produce anyone. What has happened is that U.S. companies have shifted toward high-end manufacturing as the production of low-value goods has moved overseas.
We need to participate in the global marketplace and that means both exporting and importing goods. While the shift to high-end manufacturing may have made it harder to find “Made in the USA” products, it has resulted in more profitable business for American companies and lower prices for shoppers.
While it may sometimes be difficult to find American made products, there are benefits to seeking them out. When you look for the “Made in the USA’ label you:
- Help to support American manufacturing workers and their companies
- Promote safe working conditions and child labor laws
- Grow America’s economy and foster American independence
- Go Green – U.S. manufacturing processes are much more environmentally friendly than most industrialized nations
Imports aren’t all bad, but by all means whenever you can, “Buy American”.