Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 56 seconds
I saw a video of a home that was built in Montana that had a gimmick associated with it. They essentially looked at every aspect of the home, even down to the foundation bolts, and made sure the components were made in America. There had to be a catch.
I was initially impressed and somewhat amazed to discover that it could be done.
In my little world here in Boise Idaho, nothing is made in America any more as far as I can tell.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe I am as patriotic as the next guy, but it isn’t easy buying a commodity that hasn’t come from, have a component, or ingredient from, or been assembled on a different continent.
Made in the world is a better description of how things really are. Companies have gobbled each other up and learned how to be more efficient and profitable.
My friend who moved from Oregon bought some frozen blue berries that reminded him of home. When he inspected the package, he was shocked to learn it had come from Serbia. They have an abundance of fruit in Oregon. How is it cheaper to get it from Serbia?
I just bought a GE microwave. I figured it was an American made product. Nope, although GE is what we think of as an American company, my microwave was assembled in Malaysia, according to the sticker.
I showed up to a potential client’s home in a Honda CRV. He glared at me because it was a foreign car.(he drives a Dodge truck). My car was assembled here, with foreign company ownership that employs local people to sell and service the darn thing. Odds are it was manufactured in their East Liberty Ohio plant.
I used to love a company that had local roots a vacuum company that got very big with a hit back-pack vacuum. I would bring mine back to the factory whenever a part broke. I felt like I was participating in making them a great company because they would not only fix the part, but also file a report with ideas to make the darn thing better. I just found out that the company was sold to a larger manufacturing company. They gave their local sales staff a made in America top of the line vacuum as a parting gift when they moved their operations to Texas and their assembly plant in Mexico. Did the vacuum made in America work better? Hell if I know. Did the company move to cut cost and increase profit? You bet. That is Capitalism at its best. Is there less corporate income tax out of the country? Sure, it is every country’s best interest to have their work force fully employed.
Is buying local the answer? You would think that local producers could compete because transportation costs are going up. But bean counters all over the world have done the math. Having cheap labor trumps transportation cost. Trust me, the moment that that is not true, everything will go back to the way it was.
One local producer of vegetables couldn’t keep up with demand, so although he was growing while in season, he would import during cold months to avoid heating costs without telling his clients. The cost stayed the same year round, go figure. That is what capitalism is.
Does locally grown produce taste better? I don’t think so. I wish it did. Does it make you feel better that it is grown locally? Sure it does. But is the buying public willing to pay twice or three times as much for it?
Industry has found ways to preserve veggies to the point that we can’t tell the difference, so we make decisions with our pocket books 99% of the time and that is why this stuff happens. Jet Fresh on the vine ripened tomatoes, sounds local, looks like a text book tomato, product of New Zealand. Alaskan salmon filets are shipped to China to be processed, then brought back here, and still cost less than you can get them processed in America.
We would have to change our lifestyles and go back to eating things that were in season and avoiding them during the other times of the year. Weird, I remember doing that. This generation has no idea about that. You can now buy any perishable fruit or vegetable year round if you want some.
Remember when “Made in America” meant something? I do. Take tools, for instance. Now, most of the great tools are foreign made or owned by a foreign company. Remember Craftsman tools? Is it more important to have great tools or have them made in America? Sadly, the two terms used to be synonymous.
There are still examples of a hand full of really made in America places, but they are rare. I can’t even begin to imagine where all of the components of this American made computer really came from.
Sam Walton got it. He set up an American company that went global to bring consumers what they wanted. Low price stuff.
In the mean time, a large percentage of our workforce sits idle. Henry Ford figured out that he had to pay his employees enough to buy his products. What if we lost our ability to pay for their stuff? Cash and credit are tight, perhaps we have more leverage than we think? I can see how paying someone $2.00/day (and they like it) is attractive. I can also see that changing as the generally poor workforce discovers that they are being taken advantage of.
There are foreign companies that have figured out how to make a profit by manufacturing on our soil, why can’t our companies bring manufacturing back to our soil?
- Is our capitalistic system firing on all cylinders?
- Has greed made the wheels fall off the cart?
- What caused our companies to move away?
- Was it pure greed?
- Are all of the American manufacturing companies in survival mode?
The goal for every manufacturing company is to make money. No one said how much is fair, or how to achieve this goal, other than to play by the rules. Last check there was no rule about where things must be made. Every company I know has a propensity to figure out ways to decrease cost and improve the bottom line. The big corporations are just taking it to the next level. If those global companies that have moved out can give the illusion of made in America to the purchasing public, then all the better for them. I winced however when Corporate Burger King went Canadian to save on taxes.
Perhaps America can figure out a suitable surcharge tax for foreign held companies doing business here?
Competition and anti monopoly rules used to keep prices in check and worked when we were essentially landlocked. Now that technology allows for instant communication, the world has essentially shrunk. Not to mention computer automation, We just don’t need people doing what a robot can do better, faster and for less.
What is it going to take, a carrot, a stick, or both? to bring back some of the jobs that have been lost?
My prediction is that the moment one company tries moving back and it works… the rush will be on. Essentially, they have to figure it out on their own.
One promising thing I have seen lately is a advertising campaign that basically says “High School is not enough” referring to Higher Education as what it is going to be required to make it in this country.
Let’s hope we find a way to make “Made In America” mean something again, and that it happens sooner rather than later.