Friday, January 28, 2011


by Earl Staggs

I’m sure everyone gets emails every day in which someone forwards something they thought was interesting, funny or outrageous. I usually scan them quickly and delete them with a wish the people who sent them had not done so. I have enough trouble keeping up with my important email as it is.

Yesterday, I received one that stopped me and left me thinking. It’s a simple philosophy about a major problem, and I’ve decided to follow the advice offered. Maybe you’ll feel the same.

I won’t copy the entire letter here, but here is enough of it to make the point.

* * * * *

I was in Lowes the other day looking at hose attachments. They were all made in China. The next day I was in Ace Hardware and checked the hose attachments there. They were made in USA.

My grandson likes Hershey's candy. I noticed it is made in Mexico now. I do not buy it any more. My favorite toothpaste, Colgate, is made in Mexico ... Now I have switched to Crest.

I was at Kroger and needed 60 W light bulbs. Right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off-brand labeled Everyday Value. The GE bulbs cost more and were made in MEXICO. The Everyday Value brand was made by a company in Cleveland, Ohio.

On to another aisle - Bounce Dryer Sheets. Bounce is made in Canada. The Everyday Value brand was less money and MADE IN THE USA! I did laundry yesterday and the dryer sheets performed just like the Bounce Free I have been using for years and at almost half the price!

My challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in the USA - the job you save may be your own or your neighbor’s!

* * * * *

Why do so many of our large companies choose to move manufacturing to other countries? You’d think it's because they can produce it for less money. It would seem to follow, then, they would sell it at a lower price. That’s not always true, as the examples above show.

I certainly have nothing against Canada or Mexico. Or Taiwan, India, Korea, or anywhere else on the planet where our goods and services have been “outsourced.” If it provides jobs for people desperately needing them, that’s fine.

I’m not going to rant about global economy, international politics, NAFTA, import/export surcharges or any of that. My new shopping philosophy is very simple:

I’m going to start checking labels closely. If I can buy an equal product made in the USA at an equal or lower price, I’m going to do it.

I hope you'll join me.


Kevin R. Tipple said...

Please remember, a company can repackage things and then claim it is made in the USA. Years ago, I worked for SAM'S and use to unpack the televisions that came from overseas and then repack them in b oxes that said "MADE IN AMERICA." By repacking them, that got through a legal loophole and allowed Wal-Mart Corp to claim they were made in America.

Don't know if that is still true.

Another legal loophole uses to be that if the parts were sent to the foreign company where the item, usually a car, was built and then the car came back, it could be labeled as "Made in America" because it would have been if the plant using those parts was here.

Ben Small said...

That's very true, Kevin.

Often the reason large companies, like UTC, where I had experience, and GE, do it to obtain European or Asian participation leading to a large foreign buy. It's that way with aircraft and large, heavy equipment or complicated machinery. Airbus wants European content when they buy, as does China re Asian content. And also, we're finding that the U.S. isn't producing the technicians, engineers and scientists we once did. It's difficult to bring them into the country from elsewhere, and many of them are unemployed and will work for lower wages than here. There are a lot of unemployed engineers in Eastern Europe, where UTC just announced it's building two Polish plants for a business managed here.

Whether we like it not, globalization is here. But a cheap dollar, as long as it's supported abroad and we can sell our bonds, will help employment, as our goods become cheaper overseas.

I too buy American when I can. But with some products, like automobiles, it's difficult to find one that doesn't have any foreign content

Jean Henry Mead said...


If I can find a product made in the USA, I buy it, whether it costs more or not. But as Kevin said, how do you know that it's not just the box that was made here? And why aren't higher tariffs enacted to protect American workers' jobs?

Jaden Terrell said...

When I bought my last car, I wanted to get an American-made car. It turns out it wasn't as easy as buying a Ford or a Chevrolet. Most of the "American-made" cars get all their parts made elsewhere and most of the "foreign-made" cars are made in the U.S. I ended up looking at the stats for safety and reliability and making my decision based on that. I got a Honda Accord.

Earl Staggs said...

Kevin, it should be illegal to repackage to mislead buyers into thinking something was made in the US. Maybe it is. I don't know.

It's difficult to find a product such as an automobile or electronic device of any kind without some element of foreign manufacture. Smaller products (light bulbs, candy bars, toothpaste, etc.) made entirely in the US are not so hard to find.

Yes, globalization is here, and it's good for big companies and Wall Street. The rich get richer, but it's a big part of the reason the US is courting out and out bankruptcy.

Jean, higher tariffs on imports result in higher prices for the end products. Our labor costs are higher, so it costs more to make the products here. We demand the highest pay for our work, then buy foreign products at the lowest price we can find, which is usually an import. Catch 22.

Kevin R. Tipple said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin R. Tipple said...

(I had to fix a typo that would have looked pretty bad--hence the deletion)

Actually the filaments come from overseas. So does the gas in the new bulbs. Nuts in candy bars are primarily coming from South America as is the chocolate. So while some of the products are still made here, the ingredients or elements within are now pretty much coming from overseas. By assembling here, even if every single piece comes from overseas they can claim it is American made.

And, of course, all of this ignores the 100 mile exclusion zone that stretches along the entire US/Mexico border. If the planet that makes the item is across the border BUT WITHIN the exclusion zone, it gets the made in America brand. One of the joys of NAFTA that Ross Perot was so dead set against. Interesting how everything he warned about has happened.

Carola said...

As a chocoholic, I should point out that the raw ingredients for chocolate ALWAYS came from elsewhere ;-) Anyone know of a cacao plantation in the US?

Carola said...

As a chocoholic, I should point out that the raw ingredients for chocolate ALWAYS came from elsewhere ;-) Anyone know of a cacao plantation in the US?

Kevin R. Tipple said...

as recently as five to ten years ago we had them in deep South Texas and across several of the Gulf Sates. I know the South Texas one was bought by Chilean interests and closed, but I don't know about the others.

Earl Staggs said...

Carola, there may not be any cacao plantations in the US, so we have to accept that the raw material must be imported. What bothered me was Hershey moving their operation to Mexico and doing it all there.