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American-made is hard to find today

Thursday, November 10, 2005

America's trade deficit - the difference between those goods we import versus those goods we export- hit a record level in September partially because of expanded oil important following the Gulf Coast hurricanes. But the big shocker in the report was the continued deficit with China which could well top $200 billion this year. That means America sends $200 billion more into the Chinese economy than they spend on our products.

So just why do we buy such a large amount of our goods from overseas? Well for starters, their labor is much cheaper and they can produce goods for less and therefore, sell them for less than those products made in America. And many countries, like China, subsidize their industries, have few if any government rules and regulations against pollution for example and ignore international laws on copyrights and other materials. In short, we are competing on a very uneven playing field.

But having said that, the real culprit is often the American consumer who will buy a cheaper product regardless of where it was manufactured. Granted, on many store shelves our only choice is imported products. But that's not always the case.

The American standard of living is among the highest in the world. That means our wages are higher obviously. But that ultimately means it is more costly to produce goods here than overseas where labor costs are a fraction of those here. So we buy electronics and clothing made exclusively in some foreign land. And our trade deficit mounts so that some future generation will face an America that produces little and depends on other economies for our existence.

The America of the 1950s no longer exists. We no longer produce the goods and services that are purchased by the remainder of our world. Instead, we have become a dependent society. Our biggest export is dollars to other countries. Ultimately, other countries will control the way we live, the goods we buy and the products available for our choice.

It is impossible to "Buy American" because far too many goods are no longer produced in this country. But consumers can have an impact by purchasing as many American-made goods as possible and by asking and then demanding that our retailers make an effort to provide American-made goods. If we pay a higher price for these American goods now, it may well be money saved in the long run.



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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen