Sure, you have read this type of article many times, and are positive that you know all the reasons why you should make this choice, and would do it too, if it didn’t cost so much, or if it wasn’t so difficult to find. I am with you! But, I want to give you eight good reasons to make a better effort at finding American Made products, and some data that would support each of my claims.
1. BETTER QUALITY PRODUCT
First, American-made products, are generally of better quality than those produced abroad. Now, I am not saying that Italy doesn’t make a wonderful red wine, or that Germany doesn’t make an impressive automobile. However, on a whole, you will find well made products in the United States, as compared to their counterparts made in other countries.
In the United States, there are numerous agencies and regulations that govern the manufacturing industry. (i.e., Food & Drug Administration (F.D.A.), Consumer Product Safety Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Office of Compliance). You will have difficulty finding many such agencies in the majority of the world, other than the United States. What that means to the consumer is that they will be provided with (1) a product that does what it says it does; (2) a product that lasts as long as it says it will last; (3) is safe to use; and (4) any risks or safety concerns, will be written on the packaging.
In addition, the United States’ engineering technologies are superior to the majority of the rest of the world. Manufacturing, utilizing these technologies means that products are made to be more sturdy and reliable than that made by less technically savvy technologies.
Finally, the manufacturing plants that are hired by companies generally do not have a quality control department or even quality control employee. For example, let’s say a company called XYZ Lights hires a manufacturing plant in China to produce lamps for them. XYZ Lights goes to China, meets with the manager or owner of the manufacturing plant, brings a sample product along, and watches as the plant produces the same product before their eyes. XYZ Lights is VERY please with this product, and fly back home to California. A couple of months later, they receive a large shipment of lamps from their Chinese manufacturing plant, and notice that some of the lamps are falling apart. They were not able to stop in on the plant each day to make sure that they were producing the lamps in the proper way. They were not able to take a sample home occasionally to test them out and make sure they were working properly. The point is… buying a product that is made in the United States, more than likely has a higher quality, as the manufacturing process will have more quality check controls in place.
2. CREATION OF AMERICAN JOBS
In 1960, only eight to ten percent of purchases made in the United States were of foreign made products. Today, 60% of products purchased in the United States are foreign made. If there was an increase of 9% in purchases of U.S. manufactured products, there in turn would be an increase of 200,000 jobs. If you do the math in reverse, between 1960 and today, nearly 1.2 million jobs have disappeared and been sent elsewhere.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) July 2012 report, there are currently 12.8 million people unemployed in the United States. If we were to bring those outsourced jobs back to the United States, 10% of those unemployed would be working. Luckily, we are seeing a trend in America. According to the BLS report, manufacturing saw a growth of 25,000 jobs in the month of July!
It is important to our nation to have our citizens working for so many reasons. Some of those reasons I will go into further (i.e., increase in tax revenues, less people on public assistance, stimulating the American economy) and others can be philosophically pondered (i.e., lower depression rate [being able to pay your bills, not sitting at home all day, and being able to afford recreational activities all help with this], a better educated society [many people learn on-the-job skills, and many employers send their employees to trainings, conferences and conventions where they broaden their knowledge-base], a better connected society [how many friends have you made at work?; how many different cultures have you been exposed to while working?]).
3. Higher Tax Revenues
Money made in the United States, either by corporations, or the employees that work for those corporations is taxed by Federal, State and Local governments. Those tax dollars are used for all types of services (military, education, roads, police, social services, etc.) When companies outsource jobs, they remove those tax revenues two-fold; first by not paying taxes (or the same amount in taxes) from their profits; and second, the now unemployed citizens not paying taxes on their non-existent income.
Let’s go into more detail about how Corporations pay little to no taxes to the United States when they outsource. According to a study by the Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 56% of the Fortune 500 companies paid an average tax rate of 18.5% (the corporate tax rate is actually 35%) due to outsourcing and tax shelters.
If Import Co. buys $1 of goods from India and sells for $3, Import Co. will pay tax on $2 of taxable income. However, tax benefits can be exploited if Import Co. is to set up an offshore subsidiary in the British Virgin Islands to buy the same goods for $1, sell the goods to Import Co. for $3 and sell it again in the domestic market for $3. This allows Import Co. to report taxable income of $0 (because it was purchased for $3 and sold for $3), thus paying no tax. While the subsidiary will have to pay tax on $2, the tax is payable to the tax authority of British Virgin Islands. Since the British Virgin Islands has a corporate tax rate of 0%, no taxes are payable. (Source: Wikipedia – Tax Shelters)
Our current tax laws allow a company to deduct 100% of their costs to move their company overseas (such as shipping, terminating leases, etc.) So, in addition to the corporation being able to reduce their tax burden by running their company in another country, they start the process of moving their company overseas with a 100% tax write-off.
4. Money Stays Local
Most of us have heard this argument in our local towns. Buy local, so the money stays local. It is true, even at the national level. When companies stay in the United States, they hire U.S. employees. When U.S. employees are employed they, (1) are able to spend the money they earn, in turn paying sales tax on much of that spending; (2) are not utilizing public assistance; (3) are paying taxes on their earnings.
When companies stay in the United States, they pay taxes on their earnings, to the U.S. government. Companies invest their money in U.S. banks, making our economy stronger.
When companies outsource, (1) those employed are outside of the United States, and their income taxes (if any) do not get paid to the U.S.; (2) the company, utilizing tax shelters, do not pay taxes or at the very least their fair share of taxes, to the U.S. government; and (3) money earned is typically invested in off-shore accounts, thus not stimulating the U.S. economy.
5. Less American’s on Public Assistance
The majority of jobs that are outsourced, are unskilled, blue-collar positions. The employees that lose their jobs to outsourcing are in an unfortunate situation, in that they do not have job skills to find a replacement job and are more at risk of needing public assistance. By removing jobs available to U.S. citizens, these previously gainfully employed people will be forced to depend on public assistance to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables. More citizens on public assistance means a larger drain on government funds, which have already been diminished due to outsourcing. 1 in 5 children currently live under the poverty line, which makes public assistance a necessary program.
If more jobs stayed on American soil, more people would be employed, and therefore less people would need public assistance.
6. Preventing Unsafe Working Conditions for Others Around the World
In the United States there are laws protecting employees as it relates to discrimination and harassment, termination, safe and drug-free work environments, and benefits and wages. Yet, sadly, throughout the world, where there are not these protecting agencies and regulations, there is example after example of “sweatshop” type environments that still exist, and still produce products that are imported into the United States.
According to a report done by the Human Rights Watch in 2000, women from Thailand are trafficked to Japan and are purchased by employers who force the women to work extremely long hours and abuse them both sexually and physically. They are forced to work without a wage, and instead have to work to pay off inflated debts which take them years to pay off.
In 2000, 40 Bolivian women were found working in a textile factory in Buenos Aires. Authorities determined that the girls had been beaten regularly, were forced to work up to 19 hours per day, and received inadequate food.
According to a 2001 report by the Global Exchange, workers in Tehuacan, Mexico work for such low salaries, that they are forced to have their children work in the same factories they work in, instead of sending them to school, just to make ends meet.
China is among the countries in which labor rights are violated regularly. Independent unions are not permitted, and the only organization allowed to represent workers is run by the Chinese Communist Party. Although China is in the midst of economic “reforms”, these serve only to help the Chinese economy and foreign investors, not workers who, on the average, make less than $1.00 a day. (Source – www. webster.edu )
The National Labor Committee reports the following about US companies importing from China:
• Huffy bikes are made in China by workers that are paid 25 cents an hour, these workers work from 7AM until 11PM 7 days a week.
• Timberland shoes are made in China by 16 and 17 year old girls who work 14 hours a day, seven days a week, for 22 cents an hour.
• Keds are made in China by girls as young as 16 applying toxic glue with their bare hands,
• RCA TVs are made by young women, as young as 14, working from 7:30AM until 9PM, 7 days a week, for 25 cents an hour. If they make a mistake on the line they are penalized 10 hours pay. (Source – www. helium.com – What is the responsibility of American companies and consumers for unsafe working conditions in Chinese factories?)
7. Better for the Environment
American manufacturing processes are usually much cleaner for the environment than any other country, as the United States has laws and regulations that protect the environment from air, to water, to waste, to toxic substances, to pesticides.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency, or E.P.A. has nearly 17,000 employees. The Chinese State Environmental Protection Administration, or S.E.P.A. has only 300 employees. With China’s population more than 3 times the U.S. population, this agency has no hope of overseeing and administering regulations on the manufacturing practices. And what that means for China is devastating. The World Bank calculated that air pollution was responsible for at least 350,000 (and may be as high as 650,000) premature deaths in China each year and about 59% of the seven main rivers in China were deemed unsafe for human consumption. That puts nearly 500,000 Chinese citizens without access to safe water.
In countries like China, India and South Africa, there is little enforcement of environmental protection regulations. They do not have the staff or infrastructure to be effective. Manufacturing plants in those and similar countries rarely spend the money to dispose of their waste safely and responsibly, polluting the air, water and ground around them, with no more than a small fine that is considered “the cost of doing business”.
8. Safer Products Manufactured
Safety standards of the products made in the US are better than foreign made products. The F.D.A., C.P.S.C., and U.S.D.A. are all regulatory agencies that ensure this.
One of the roles that the United States Food and Drug Administration, or F.D.A.’s is to oversee domestic and foreign drug manufacturing. The F.D.A. is suppose to routinely inspect manufacturing plants for compliance to applicable regulations. However, in China, there are only 2 agents assigned, who are only capable of inspecting 11% of the manufacturing plants. In 2008, hundreds of people were poisoned by heparin (an anti-clotting drug) made from ingredients in China.
One of the roles that the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, or C.P.S.C.’s has is to protect the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death from consumer products. Had there been a similar and well-staffed agency in every country that manufactures goods sold in the United States, then perhaps the recalls of toys made by Mattel in both 2007 and 2009 would not have been necessary. (Many of the toymakers products had been painted using products containing lead.)
One of the roles that the United States Department of Agriculture or U.S.D.A.’s is to prevent, detect, and act in response to food safety emergencies. There have been many food recalls in just the past few years. In 2007, there was a massive recall of canned chili, stew, hash and other canned products made in Mexico due to a potentially fatal botulism contamination. Also in 2007, various brands of pet food from China had been poisoning and killing animals. In 2010, Ready Pac Foods and other product companies were forced to recall imported products containing baby spinach that had been infected with a strain of the bacteria, E. coli. (Source – www. americanmadematters.com )
The issue that we face, as a consumer, each and every time we make a purchase, is bigger than a dollar saved, or how easy it is to find. With a little effort, and yes, at times, a little more expense, you can impact the world you live in, and the country you call home. Most products have at least one company that manufactures them in the United States. Do the research, and buy American. Your dollars will buy more than a material good, but rather will impact the world around you.