What Can I Do To "Save" American Manufacturing?

Michele Nash-Hoff You may feel that there is nothing you can do as an individual to stop the total destruction of American manufacturing and watch the United States go over the precipice. Don't think this way! American activist and author, Sonia Johnson said, "We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history." Eleanor Roosevelt echoed this sentiment saying, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Remember that our country was founded by a small group of people that did indeed change the world by forming the United States of America. Here are suggestions of what each one of us can do: As a Consumer: It matters if we buy American-made products. First, our addiction to imports has helped create our high trade deficit, especially with China, where most of the consumer goods we import are manufactured. Second, American-made products create American jobs. Each time you choose to buy an American-made product, you help save or create an American job. Look at the country of origin labels of goods when you go shopping. Most imported goods are required to have these labels. Buy the "Made in U.S.A." even if it costs more than the imported product. It is a small sacrifice to make to insure the well being of your fellow Americans. The price difference you pay for "Made in USA" products keeps other Americans working. If the product you are looking for is no longer made in America, then avoid countries such as China, who have nuclear warheads aimed at American cities. It would not be an exaggeration to say that American consumers have paid for the bulk of China's military buildup. American service men and women could one day face weapons mostly paid for by American consumers. Instead, patronize impoverished countries such as Bangladesh or Nicaragua, which have no military ambitions against the United States. In addition, you will be reducing your "carbon footprint" by buying a product made in America instead of a product that is made offshore that will use a great deal of fossil fuel just to ship it to the United States. If you have a "Made in USA" appliance that needs repair and all the new ones are imported, have it repaired. If it can't be fixed, and it is a small appliance that you can live without, then don't buy a new one. We Americans buy many things that we really don't need just because they are so cheap. If a product that you are considering purchasing is an import, ask yourself, "Do I really need this?" If you don't need it, then don't buy it. If you are willing to step out of your comfort zone, you could ask to speak to the department or store manager of your favorite store. You could tell the person that you have been a regular customer for x amount of time, but if they want to keep you as a customer, they need to start carrying some (or more) "Made in USA." products. If you buy products on line or from catalogs, you could contact these companies via email with a similar message. Your communicating with a company does have an effect because the rule of thumb in sales and marketing is that one reported customer complaint equals 100 unreported complaints. If you think that Americans no longer care about where goods are made or have concerns about the safety of foreign products, you may be surprised to learn that poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans prefer to buy American. A nationwide poll conducted by Sacred Heart University in September 2007 found the following: 68.6 percent of Americans check labels for information like manufacturer, nation of origin and ingredients 86.3 percent of Americans would like to block Chinese imports until they raise their product and food safety standards to meet U.S. levels. Buying American has been made even easier by a book by Roger Simmermaker - "How Americans Can Buy American: The Power of Consumer Patriotism" released in March 2008 and updated in 2010. According to Simmermaker, "buying American" is not just about buying "Made in USA." "Buying American, in the purest sense of the term, means we would buy an American-made product, made by an American-owned company, with as high a domestic parts content within that product as possible . . . 'American-made' is good. 'Buying American' is much better!" One of our greatest statesmen, Thomas Jefferson, stated, "I have come to a resolution myself, as I hope every good citizen will, never again to purchase any article of foreign manufacture which can be had of American make, be the difference of price what it may." Simmermaker has made it easy by listing companies and their nation of ownership. You can see his list of American-owned companies at his website: www.howtobuyamerican.com However, Simmermaker's website isn't the only one available. You can also check many other websites, found simply by "Googling" "buy American." These include: www.buyamericanmart.com www.ionlybuyamerican.com www.madeinusa.org www.americansworking.com www.shopunionmade.org www.MadeInUSAForever.com www.stillmadeinUSA.com There are also brick and mortar stores springing up around the country that are either stocking only "made in America" products, such as the American Apparel stores or primarily "made in America" products, such as the Urban Outfitters stores. As American consumers, you have many choices to live safely and enjoy more peace of mind with American products. It's high time to stop sending our American dollars to China while they send us all of their tainted, hazardous, and disposable products. If 200 million Americans refuse to buy just $20 each of Chinese goods, that's a four billion dollar trade imbalance resolved in our favor - fast! As a Voter: There's only one way for manufacturers to find relief from high taxes, burdensome regulations, and unfair trade laws and that's through Washington, D.C. Voter apathy is partially responsible for the state of our affairs as a country. Too many people have decided that there is nothing we can do on an individual basis and have even stopped voting. Americans have been "sold down the river" by politicians on both sides of the aisle - Democrats and Republicans. Democrats profess to support "blue collar workers" and unions, yet NAFTA and the WTO treaties were approved and went into effect under the presidency of Democrat Bill Clinton. Republicans profess to support business, yet they primarily support large, multinational corporations, rather than the small businesses that are the engine of economic growth in the U.S. and the foundation of the middle class. In his 2008 book, "Where Have all the Leaders Gone" Lee Iacocca said, "Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind. The most famous business leaders aren't the innovators, but the guys in handcuffs. And, don't tell me it's all the fault of right wing Republicans or liberal Democrats. That's an intellectually lazy argument and it's part of the reason that we're in this stew. We're not just a nation of factions. We're a people and we rise and fall together. We didn't elect you to sit on your butts and do nothing and remain silent while our country is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? Why don't you guys in Congress show some spine for a change?" In a poll asking Americans if they've ever contacted their elected representatives, eight out of ten said that they never had. It's never been easier to contact members of Congress. All you have to do is click on www.house.gov or www.senate.gov and type in your zip code, and you're automatically directed to your representative. A window automatically pops up where you can type a message to that representative. It takes less than two minutes, on average. Well, we now need to let our elected representatives know how we feel about the bad trade laws, bad tax laws, and over burdensome regulations on manufacturers. It's time to shed apathy, become involved, and vote. If people whose lives are affected by manufacturing would contact their legislators and tell them they want trade reform and tax reform and would follow up to watch to see how they voted, the results would be amazingly effective. We cannot afford to export our wealth and be able to remain a first-world country. We cannot lose our manufacturing base and be able to remain a "superpower." In fact, we may not be able to maintain our freedom as a country because it takes considerable wealth to protect our freedom. You can play a role as an individual in saving our country ─ the company you save or the job you save by your actions may be your own.