Made in America

The continuing unemployment news makes it obvious to me that we must find a way to compete again in the manufacturing sector.  There are long lists of reasons why we don’t make things in America anymore, but the fact is, we must if we want a vibrant economy. 

Not all of us are capable of being “knowledge workers” or similar highly educated people employed in high tech or service industries.  There will always be a portion of any population that thrives by making things – performing physical labor.  We cannot continue to “legislate” or “collective bargain” the value of that labor; the world economy has set the value.  The market always sets the value of goods and services. 

During the great depression, the organized labor movement got a huge boost as the government came to the aid of the then under-represented American laborer.  Over the years the protections and bargaining rights have developed to the point where in many industries our labor has simply priced itself out of the market.  Labor unions have in many cases, caused manufacturers to move manufacturing off-shore or to “right to work” states” in the U.S.  It appears to me that unions are now costing their members more jobs than they are saving. 

I have made it my business to look for US manufacturing companies that are flourishing.  It seems that those few (and the numbers are growing) have developed a niche, are fanatical about quality, and happy enough to make a profit.  Their goal is not necessarily to go public or make gazillions of dollars.  They are typically small, efficient businesses who have identified a need in the marketplace and filled it….with high quality, appropriately priced products.  They do not compete on price; they compete on quality and service. 

Typically the stakeholders of these small companies are the owners’ families, their customers and their employees; not investment banks and shareholders.  This is the way most businesses get started; identify a need and meet it, making a good living and return on investment in the process. 

I now find myself looking carefully at where the things I buy are made.  If I can find a product made in USA that meets my needs, I buy it over the foreign made competition.  Thus in my own small way I am supporting my fellow Americans.  There is a growing movement to increase support for U.S. manufacturers.  Check out Diane Sawyer’s  Made in America Challenge.   Also there is an interesting blog called   “China Ate My Jeans”  written by my cousin, Tina Parsons, who has made 2011 the year she will try to purchase nothing unless it is made in the USA.  She has identified many US companies who are slowly beginning to rebuild our manufacturing sector. 

It may never be possible for U.S. manufacturers to compete on price in the world marketplace.  However, on a local or “close to home” level, niche manufacturers are beginning to flourish.  In my experience, the quality of the U.S. made products reward my extra shopping effort required to find them.  You won’t find these products at the local big box retailer.  You will have to look online buying direct from the manufacturer or at specialized “niche” retailers.

3 Responses to “Made in America”

  • Mike Blankers:

    Paul, Great blog. Really enjoyed your thoughts on manufacturing in America.

    Mike

  • Paul, great insights as usual. Do you think Washington is deliberately undermining the value of the dollar (quantitative easings etc.) to help the manufacturing industry compete on a global scale? Or will that be an unintended benefit from out of control federal spending?

  • Thanks for the comment, Erik.

    I do not believe quantitative easing can fix the economy. Economies always cycle. Civilizations cycle. Life cycles. What we are witnessing is our nation and others trying to stop the pendulum from swinging. It is true that if our currency is devalued and the rest of the world doesn’t make similar adjustments an unintended consequence could be lower cost goods manufactured here thus more exports.

    However, given the behavior of our trading partners during the “debt ceiling crisis” I doubt it will happen.

    We are simply condemning future generations to very high cost of government which will in turn stifle economic growth. Interest payments do not boost GDP.

    My point is; there is a limit to what government monetary policy can do to stimulate economic growth. We have moved past that limit.

FEATURED PODCASTS

It's Your Money, Not Theirs

Latest Show

April 21, 2013–Richard and Joe discuss the more than 800 celebrity interviews and his techniques with Entertainment Reporter, Fred Saxon.

Featuring Polito Eppich

December 16, 2012–Richard and Joe welcomed Don Eppich of Polito Eppich. (Commercial free. 42 minutes.)

August 19th, 2012–Richard and Joe discuss tax policy and accounting services with Paul Polito, CPA and Don Eppich, CPA.

March 25th, 2012-Richard and Joe discuss the best accounting practices and strategic advice for businesses with Paul Polito, CPA and Don Eppich, CPA of www.PolitoEppich.com

Categories
Archives