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Made in America

July 20, 2017

 

 “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”  America was a haven for all.  America was a land to build a life and a livelihood.  Made in America was as much about building a future as it was about building a product.  America was a land of opportunity.

There was a time when being “made in America” inspired respect and admiration from people.  American made products were known for their outstanding quality.  Our steel

 

stronger, our buildings were taller, our crops were plentiful, our markets were larger, and our railways were longer.  Over time, America lost something along the way.  American products became less associated with quality and more associated with profit.  While making money, and a lot of it, is the dream of every American, it should not be the sole focus of business and life.  Henry Ford could make better more efficient products while lowering prices and keeping wages high.  Sacrifices made can still result in record profits.

 

In the Gilded Age, big business thrived! Between the years 1860 and 1900 the nation’s wealth increased from $16 billion to nearly $88 billion.  Business giants like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and Ford employed vast amounts of workers. The railroad industry employed nearly 800,000 workers by 1890 (3% of the entire nations workforce).  By the end of the century, the United States was responsible for one half of the world’s manufacturing capacity.[1]  Working conditions plummeted and profits skyrocketed.  Amid all the chaos, disdain for big business grew.  Over the years, taxes for businesses began to rise.  Once the chaos subsided, workers began to demand high wages for low skilled jobs.  To keep maximum profits, corporations relocated to foreign countries where they could operate at minimal costs.  As business departed, so too did the age of “made in America.” 

 

Cheap foreign labor resulted in cheap products.  Although our jobs were gone, our favorite products remained affordable.  When foreign workers are only paid an average of $33 per month in countries like South Africa, Egypt, and Bangladesh, prices can remain low.[2]  Ignorance and the allure of rock bottom prices kept the American people oblivious to rights violations overseas.  While there have been campaign to expose these atrocities, it’s hard to empathize with a worker that is thousands of miles away.  Out of sight, out of mind.  It may not be right, but it’s the same way for many people around the world.

 

There has been an Awakening in America!  Consumers have forced companies to take steps to improve working conditions all over the world.  Americans have a reawakened desire for products made at home.  The people have acknowledged that they are the ones that pushed business away.  While we may not want to admit it, we betrayed business and business betrayed us.  Love it or despise it, the motto “Make America Great Again” is something we all aspire to do.  Bring businesses back to America.  Have American hands making American products.  Let us once again be known for making the best!

 

After all that, why buy American?

 

American products result in American jobs.  “According to a 2015 report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) the U.S. lost a total of 5.7 million manufacturing jobs between 1998 and 2013 – partly because of the Great Recession, but mostly because of trade imbalances with foreign nations like China and Mexico.”[3]

 

Products made in the U.S. are more environmentally friendly.  Although the U.S. has a long way to go, we are still held at a high level for environmental standards.  Companies operating overseas do not always have to abide by these strict standards.  While it may be more profitable to ignore environmental standards, companies should want to protect our health and the health of the planet.  We as consumers should hold our companies to higher standards.

 

American jobs build a stronger American Economy.  American corporations buy American components from American producers.  The EPI estimates that every U.S. manufacturing job supports an additional 1.4 jobs in other parts of the economy.[4] American workers are in turn spending their money in the United States.  It creates a ripple effect that permeates throughout the economy.

 

America was once a pioneer in the business world.  We attracted the best and brightest to make most innovative and high quality products.  Somewhere along the way we lost sight of that goal.  Greater focus on the pride of being made in America, can put us on track once again.  To celebrate made in America Week we look at the hardships we have faced, but we also look to a positive future.  God bless America.  God bless that which is made here. 

 

 

 

 

[1] White, Richard. "The Rise of Industrial America, 1877-1900." The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. N.p., 28 Nov. 2011. Web. 20 July 2017.

[2] Kish, Matthew. "How Much Do Nike Contract Factory Workers Get Paid? (Database)." Bizjournals.com. Portland Business Journal, 20 May 2014. Web. 20 July 2017.

[3] Livingston, Amy. "Products Made in the USA – Reasons to Buy American-Made Goods." Money Crashers. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2017.

[4] Livingston, Amy. "Products Made in the USA – Reasons to Buy American-Made Goods." Money Crashers. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2017.

 

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