Recently, I read a slogan that got my attention. It said: "We're willing to die for our country, but are we willing to buy for it?"
This idea came from a documentary, "Made in USA: A 30 Day Journey."
Josh Miller, the film's narrator and primary actor, pledged to live off American-made products and services for 30 days. In this tragicomedy, he struggled from day to day to find American goods for basic living, such as eating, showering and transportation. . It was a challenge.
There has been plenty of other media coverage of this topic. ABC World News produced a series, "Made in America," focusing on American manufacturing. Their research found that in 1960, foreign goods made up only 8 percent of Americans' purchases. Today, almost 60 percent of everything we buy is made overseas. The program pointed out that if every American spent an extra $3.33 on U.S.-made goods, it would create almost 10,000 new jobs in this country.
According to Roger Simmermaker, the author of "How Americans Can Buy American," adding more U.S. manufacturing jobs not only reduces the unemployment rate but also expands the tax base to pay for benefits, like Medicare and Social Security. The Center for Automotive Research estimates that every new job in auto production actually can support nine other jobs, from grocery store employees to landscape contractors.
There are several environmental reasons to avoid purchasing overseas products. Many products made in China actually start their life in the U.S. as raw materials. They are shipped back to the U.S. as consumer goods. This creates unnecessary petroleum consumption and emissions.
Also, manufacturing facilities overseas are not held to the same standards as American manufacturing facilities. Many companies overseas use dangerous, toxic processes.
Besides the environment, there are labor concerns - many countries have no minimum wage standards, or the minimum wage is terribly low. Often, there are no child labor laws in place.
Economic considerations: The huge U.S. trade deficit leads to massive, unsustainable borrowing from other countries. Buying American creates a multiplier effect of jobs and supports many other workers in production and distribution. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, for every $1 spent in manufacturing, $1.40 more is added to the economy.
Despite all of the problems mentioned here, there are some positive developments. According to Heesun Wee, of CNBC.com, Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, recently announced it will boost production of U.S. products by $50 billion during the next 10 years. General Electric is investing $1 billion to revitalize its appliances business and create more than 1,500 U.S. jobs.
Even a minor difference in your buying habits will affect our local, regional and national economy. Try not to adopt the attitude that your voice is not being heard in Washington.
Call your representatives and let them know why this is important to you. Finally, tell your local shop owners you would like to see them carry more "Made in USA" products. The key ingredient is probably the self-discipline to resist the lower prices of overseas imports.
Rick Sheridan is a semi-retired professor who recently relocated to Colorado Springs. Sheridan was formerly a community columnist for the Dayton Daily News.