Friday, April 1, 2011

If You Want Employment to Rise, Buy American

The headline of this article makes a certain amount of sense, don’t you think? More on common sense in a moment. But first some good news.

Today it has been reported that the unemployment rate has fallen to 8.8 percent, a one tenth of one percent drop from February. This is due to the economy adding 216,000 jobs in March, the second month in a row that jobs were added at that rate. Hopefully this number won’t be adjusted down in the coming days as is often the case with unemployment numbers. These figures are good news and come in spite of the President’s anti-business policies such as the Stimulus, Obamacare, Quantitative Easing, and the previous Congress’s neverending unemployment insurance extensions. It’s no surprise that Mitt Romney says in his USAToday opinion piece that the rate of new jobs production would be much higher (and the unemployment rate lower) by now if it were not for Obama’s policies. This is part of the common sense I was talking about earlier, and it’s a view held by a large and growing portion of the American population.

But we as Americans can (and should) do more to make the employment numbers rise in our towns and states. We can buy American-based services and products. We can buy local. It is only common sense. Do you think buying Japanese Playstations made in China will help U.S. unemployment numbers? Or would buying a Microsoft Xbox 360 be a better idea? Would buying a Toshiba laptop be a good idea? Or would buying an Apple, Dell, or HP product help more? Of course the latter would help more.

But we Americans don’t always do what is common sense when it comes to what we buy. Americans most often buy whatever is the lowest-priced product or service, generally not paying attention to (or caring) where something is made. For instance, if Moammar Gadhafi was selling gasoline at $2 a gallon in New York City right now, there’d be a line into the gas station as long as Fifth Avenue. That’s the way it is for many American consumers. Too often today there is no choice but to buy products made in China by foreign national companies. Although buying Korean cell phones and automobiles does involve employment for the people selling those goods in this country, there are not as many people employed as if the product were designed, made, and sold by an American company. In addition the tax benefits accrued by the various taxing authorities are fewer leading to lower tax revenues flowing into the various governing authorities. Not to mention greater debt and lower employment.

Is your neighbor out of work? Are you? What better way to support them than to buy American, and even better to buy LOCAL. Being from Michigan originally, I have always supported American automobile makers. Especially nowadays, the vehicles Detroit makes are stylish, and built with real quality. I had friends in the auto business, in addition to having a brother who works directly in that industry. I felt that if I ever bought a vehicle that wasn’t made in America, that I’d be doing my small part in diminishing the business that he depends on for his family’s bread and butter. It’s not much to ask of a family member or neighbor to support the company that employs them and provides a tax base to the state and local governments where you live, instead of supporting the workers and the tax base of some city, say in Germany.

If you lived in a town full of bakeries, some of them run by your relatives, would you buy bread from Denmark? If you lived in Idaho would you buy potatoes from Michigan? If you would, let me just remind you that you only have two feet that you can shoot.

Buying local, means, as much as possible, eating in your town, buying gasoline in the burg where you pay your real estate taxes, grocery shopping in your town, and buying your car and your cell phone where you live. This supports the businesses that pay taxes in your town, thereby keeping the pressure on raising your taxes lower.

It’s hard sometimes to find American-made options, but in the car market, it’s easy. Besides American automakers, there are many foreign companies that manufacture cars in the U.S. now, which is a good alternative for consumers who don’t like Detroit’s big three automakers. Honda makes many Accords, Civics and Acuras in the U.S., as does Toyota with their Camry, Hyundai’s Sonata, BMW’s Z series, Mercedes, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Subaru all make cars in the U.S. using American workers. These car buying options are good for those people wanting to support American jobs, and as with American automakers you have to look at them on a model-by-model basis to see if they are actually “Made in the USA”. Look at the sticker on the window for the country of origin.

Other options for American-made goods are bath towels which I found at Bed, Bath and Beyond which were luxurious and only slightly higher cost than their Chinese and Pakistani-made counterparts in the store. Oh, and buy American-made bottled water. There’s really no excuse for buying water from Fiji, or France, from an ecological standpoint or from an ideological standpoint. Same for beer and wine. There are so many super California wines that there is no excuse for buying wine from anywhere else. And small and large American breweries have a wide variety of tasty beers these days that employ American workers. Buy some American beer if you’re imbibing this weekend. You’ll feel great about it. Without going into everything that’s made in the U.S., some of the bigger items like appliances from Whirlpool, Maytag, and Kenmore are made in the U.S. as are most lawn tractors, and heavy equipment from companies like John Deere, Caterpillar, and Komatsu among others.

The more we Buy American, not because we are against other countries, but because we are for our neighbors, family members, and fellow citizens, the better the chance we’ll have of digging ourselves out of this jobless, economic funk that the U.S. currently finds itself in, despite the monetary policies of the government which continue to choke economic growth.

For more exhaustive lists of American-made products, check out these Made in the USA links:

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