Column - Help save jobs: Buy American, shop localLet’s help save American jobs; let’s start consciously shopping for products “Made in U.S.A.”
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
Let’s help save American jobs; let’s start consciously shopping for products “Made in U.S.A.”
I’ve always tried to do that, but it’s problematic for a number of reasons. For example, some products are stamped with “Made in U.S.A.” on the outside, meaning the container was American-made, but the product’s “innards” were made somewhere else. For another thing, with a limited budget, it becomes almost necessary to buy a cheaper product no matter where it’s made. At least, we’ve been accustomed to thinking so. However, after buying three French-press coffee makers, all of which were made in China and all of which cracked shortly after purchasing them, I’ve decided “cheaper” is most definitely not always the better bargain. As a result, I check “Made” labels more often lately. And when I find a product “Made in U.S.A.,” I tend to buy it over a foreign-made brand, even if it costs a bit more and in some cases even a lot more. In doing comparison shopping, much to my surprise, I found that many American-made products are actually less expensive than their foreign counterparts.
Here are some examples:
Many famous name-brand greeting cards, which we think of as so all-American, are actually made elsewhere. You can buy American-made ones at dollar stores, such as Dollar Tree, for 50 cents or a buck each.
Kitchen Aid products, such a blenders, are superbly designed, highly reliable and made in the U.S.A., and they are less expensive than many other foreign-made brands.
One day, I found General Electric light bulbs made in Mexico, then nearby I found a box of generic-sounding light bulbs made in Cleveland, Ohio. I bought the latter. Less expensive, just as good.
Which brings me to a point. We tend to think, almost by a process of commercial osmosis, that famous brands are all-American and thus “Made in America.” Not so. Some of the most recognizable brands of items (General Electric, Colgate, Hallmark) are now made in other countries. And such well-known American brands, these days, don’t always necessarily guarantee high quality the way they used to in the good old days. In other words, it pays to seek out lesser-known brands that are made in this country.
There are many good reasons to scout for and buy American-made products. It helps keep jobs for fellow Americans. It helps stimulate our economy overall. In most cases, you will get better-made, more durable products.
For years, corporations, sometimes unfortunately with the blessings of our government, have been shipping jobs overseas to maximize profits. While that may be financially sound for the company owners and shareholders, it is hardly “sound” for their American workers left in the lurch, and it is hardly an example of American patriotism. We can help counter those self-serving actions of off-shoring jobs by buying “Made in U.S.A.”
In addition, many foreign plants are a virtual equivalent of slave labor with hideous, unsafe working conditions; rampant pollution; pathetically low wages; child labor; long working hours; no benefits.
It is tragic that unemployment is so widespread globally. My heart goes out to people everywhere who are struggling to survive and who need jobs — even wretched ones — to buy enough food for their families. However, some corporations cynically exploit that fact and take advantage of people for the sake of more and more profit. That is another good reason to shop American. It might help put pressure on those corporations to improve wages and working conditions, at least, for their foreign employees.
I hope my readers join me in this new pursuit: a conscious effort to buy “Made in America.” And not to forget, another great way to help retain jobs and stimulate your area economy is to “Shop Locally!”
There are some excellent websites to learn about “Made in U.S.A.” products. My favorite is www.americansworking.com, which gives detailed lists of American-made products, organized by categories. Check it out and then shop accordingly.
• • •
Dennis Dalman, a former reporter for the Echo Press, is a regular contributing columnist to the Opinion page. He is currently the editor of the St. Joseph Newsleader. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.