Made in the U.S.A.?

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  Made in the U.S.A.?August 24, 2006 08:55 When I was a child, there was a concerted effort by the US government, labor unions, and our mass media to boost the American economy by encouraging people to 'buy American.' What's the big deal, you ask? Why is it important? The concept behind the movement was that, even in those pre-NAFTA and pre-CAFTA days, US manufacturing jobs were being lost to cheaper alternatives overseas, thus if we could encourage people to pay a premium to buy American, we would create jobs and stimulate innovation here at home.

The remnants of the 'Made in the U.S.A' campaign may be seen in the presence of a 'Made in ABC' label on everything we buy and through the persistent desire of some Americans to buy only American cars, even though most American automakers, with the exception of Ford, are now multinational conglomerates. Since the strong dollar and introduction of NAFTA during the Clinton years followed with the push for CAFTA by Bush, the chances that you can find anything except some food completely made in the US are slim. I dare anyone to try and go through a whole day without touching something made in China.

Now we are seeing all kinds of jobs go overseas, from traditional manufacturing jobs to programming, medical diagnosis, and even maintenance and management of our public works. Sure, the quest for more profit makes some people immeasurably richer. Those at the bottom of the pyramid, however, are left foraging for service industry jobs to keep the American consumer economy chasing its own tail. Sadly, that tail seems to be getting skinnier and skinnier.

I've noticed that no one in politics or the media, or even in labor unions, is pushing for a renewed 'Made in the U.S.A.' campaign. That's because no one likes walking to work naked and sitting on a bare concrete floor. It's simply impossible to 'buy American' anymore.