There is an old-World War 1 song “How Ya Gonna Keep ’em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree?)”. It rose to popularity after the war had ended. The lyrics highlight concern that American soldiers from rural environments would not want to return to farm life after experiencing the European city life and culture of Paris during the war. In a sense, a century later we find ourselves in the same situation. How do we keep manufacturing in America after we have experienced globalization?
We can’t bury our heads in the sand and ignore the fact that we live in an age of globalization. No matter how much some of us might like, we can’t put the genie back in the bottle. We have “seen Paree”. In short it is what it is. That being said, there are significant signs that the tide is turning (to a degree) back into the “made in America” camp. This is not about nationalism but rather pragmatism. Follow along as I recite some reasons that this is happening and relate why you should pay attention to this trend.
First of all, let me be clear. Americans (and others by the way), want to buy American. Consumers Report offers the following statistics. Their research found that 78% of consumers would buy an American-made product over an identical one made abroad when given the choice. The rationale for 80% was retaining manufacturing jobs and keeping American manufacturing strong as very important reasons to buy American. More than 60% would pay extra to buy American.
Now we get into a bit of ambiguity of what qualifies as being made in America. This parallels the Swiss watch industry and how much of a watch must be made in Switzerland to qualify as being Swiss made. While the Swiss have broken it down to a percentage of Swiss made parts and how much assembly is done in country, for our purposes, I will leave that granularity for another time and place. Suffice it to say that made in America refers to the majority of the parts come from the good old USA and the product is assembled here. For the globalists out there I said the majority of parts meaning some may come from outside the country.
The following are tangible results and perhaps benefits to made in America.
- Quicker support: When something fails inventory is within the states and you don’t have to wait for transit time from overseas.
- Clearer product claims: American-made products tend to feature clarity and complete disclosure (i.e. certifications and standards adherence) as the norm compared to foreign sources that vary depending upon the country of origin.
- Quality: American-made products are often better quality than foreign-made. As American products increase in quality, so too does the loyalty of consumers wanting to not just buy American-made but quality as well.
- Tariffs: It is the uncertainty of tariffs. Starting in 2020 a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods, as well as those from other countries heretofore unaffected, will go into effect raising the cost of various technologies that we use everyday.
- Lower carbon footprint. Products made overseas have a higher carbon footprint than U.S.-made goods. Goods made in China or India have to be shipped all the way across the ocean to reach American stores, burning fossil fuel and spewing out greenhouse gases with every mile they travel.
- Less pollution. Many factories overseas that produce goods for export to the United States also produce large amounts of hazardous chemicals that pollute the air, water, and soil.
- Human Rights. In addition to having weaker environmental regulations, the countries that produce the goods Americans buy often have no laws to protect the rights of workers. Conditions in these foreign sweatshops can even turn deadly.
- Health. The lack of environmental and safety regulations overseas doesn’t just put foreign workers at risk – it can also threaten the health of American consumers. For example, the New York Times has reported dozens of types of children’s toys made in overseas were recalled because they were unsafe.
There are many different reasons for choosing American-made goods. It may be any or all of the reasons outlined above. The reason may be in a more basic sense of creating and keeping jobs in America. What we do see is a measurable trend with the pendulum swinging back in favor of made in America. Take the time to explore for yourselves and know the impact of where your products are made.
this article contributed by Alan Brawn