Less imported consumer goods = more jobs for members of our extended American family. This message was delivered by renowned economist and author Robert Aliber, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business at a recent economic forum. Aliber stated that if Americans spent just $100 billion on U.S. goods instead of foreign goods, 1 million jobs manufacturing jobs could be created in the United States. The U.S. trade deficit in non-oil goods increased from $369.7 billion in 2010 to $399.7 billion in 2010. The U.S. ran a nearly $300 billion trade deficit with China. The Economic Policy Institute has estimated that the growth in the U.S. trade deficit with China led to the loss of 2.8 million U.S. jobs between 2001 and 2010.
For the last six months I have been urging you to substitute American goods for foreign goods for some of the purchases you make. A response I often hear in response to this call is, “but U.S. made goods are so expensive!” For some goods that may be true. Paying men and women to make things in this country is more expensive than paying workers in China, Vietnam or Bangladesh to produce the same product. But for many goods, the difference in price between U.S. made products and foreign products is nonexistent. As an example, a pair of Original Classic Fit Men’s 14.50 oz. 100% Cotton Denim Stone washed Texas Jeans cost $29.99.
Another response I often hear is “there aren’t any American made (fill in the blank with some product) anymore.” I think the reason a lot of Americans are unaware of all the outstanding companies making consumer goods in this country is that firms such as Texas Jeans, King Louie Coats and Bruns clothing don’t spend a ton of money on advertising. So they are not household names like Apple, Levis, the North Face or Adidas. I’d say the majority of firms that actually make their products in American don’t spend much money on advertising. As a result, you know that the sales price you pay for these products pays for the materials, the labor, the overhead and a reasonable markup for the manufacturer. For firms that spend a lot of money on advertising, they have to reduce some of those costs to allow them to pay the ad man. As a result, the decision to produce their products abroad and benefit from paying third world wage rates must seem like a sound decision. A sound decision for them and their shareholders, but a decision that has led to huge job losses for members of our extended American family that work in the manufacturing sector.
Buying more American products is easy. My Made in the USA Wiss snips inexplicably cost less than a pair of comparable snips made in China. Wiss $16.00 v. China snips $17.00. But even if the Wiss snips cost a buck more, is that “dramatic savings” really a reason to pass up the opportunity to provide employment to members of our extended American family? Wow, I will save the cost of a candy bar. Where do I sign up?
In the end, it comes down to what you think is important. Buying American is important to me. Is it important to you?