The search for American-made — or at least partially American-made — items can be a challenge. Statistics from economic research groups target clothing and shoes as the worst culprit because only 10 percent of them are manufactured domestically.
Overall estimates for products consumed and made here in the good ol’ USA range from as low as 40 percent to as high as 75 percent.
That’s a big range. But certainly worse than in the 1960s, when only one in every 10 items purchased in the United States was foreign-made.
It’s widely recognized among policymakers and political pundits that the decline in American-made goods directly affects our economy. They attribute it to failed trade policies, cheaper labor, fewer regulations overseas, and other factors.
So, when the Michigan Senate unanimously approved a bill that would ban local governments from buying foreign-made American flags to place on veterans’ graves, our initial reaction was favorable.
Sure, why not make it so our veterans who fought for our country also have an American-made flag flying next to their gravestones? That makes sense.
But then the fine print of the bill caught us off-guard. Local governments may still buy foreign-made flags if the American-made flags aren’t “competitively priced.”
Then, of course, this question arose: Who’s going to be the flag police? And how exactly would this be enforced?
On closer inspection, the bill turns out to be nothing more than feel-good legislation. And that, and this situation in which we find ourselves, is sad.
How about instead of issuing unenforceable edicts to our local governments, our state senators look at ways to grow the business of manufacturing? Why don’t they investigate ways to better promote American-made products here and abroad?
Why don’t they become a part of the solution?
Luckily, we all can become part of the solution, and that’s by looking for American-made products when we shop. We guarantee it will be a needle in the haystack, and we’ll have to pay more for these products, but wouldn’t it be worth it to make the effort?
That effort would pay the most honor to and have the greatest effect on, all of our veterans — and the country.
Grand Haven (Mich.) Tribune
On buying American
Congress passed the Buy American Act in 1933. It was signed by President Herbert Hoover. It required the U.S. government to prefer U.S.-made products in its purchases. The separate Buy America Act of 1983 is part of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982. It applies only to mass-transit purchases valued at over $100,000.