One of the endeavors my daughter, a recent graduate of Boulder, has taken on in her Herculean attempt to restore America to its former or perhaps future greatness, is to tout all products Made in America. She forwarded a recent New York Times article authored by Elizabeth Olson, that included information about a Boulder based dog treat producer, the Whirlpool corporation, and the perils of using the “Made in the U.S.A.” marketing angle
Some of you may fondly recall the days when your first encounter with the word china had more to do to with your grandmother’s tableware than the vast , Asian country. For some time after that it became associated with trashy, third rate products, until U.S. companies, lured by vast armies of cheap labor, rediscovered the place and embraced it with enthusiasm unheard of since Marco Polo’s narrative and transferred the production of goods formerly made here; there. Seizing the initiative, the Chinese, throwing off the anti-capitalist shackles of Chairman Mao, decided to begin exporting Chinese developed and manufactured goods without the aid of American corporate overseers, supplying every big box retailer in this country. The rest, as they say, is (the) future. Maybe.
Coinciding with the Green Movement, and the return to the land in the form of natural, organic, pesticide, and hormone free food, some have turned their attention to searching out other products made in America, by Americans. No easy task. The absence of said products has induced others to explore the possibilities of getting into the manufacture of a limited number of items, but as the Times reporter noted, the “…challenge of finding goods manufactured in the United states”, and the cost. Like “a $225 dress shirt made by Hamilton, a Houston based company that makes Made in America apparel”, once found, was not worth the price differential. Certainly not on my shopping list.
My own experience included two items at the neighborhood “orange box”.
The first had to do with the purchase of the most mundane tool in every plumbers tool box, the pipe wrench. After being shown the store brand, made, guess where, I asked to see the American made brand. Hard to locate, the Rigid pipe wrench sold for fifty percent more. I bought it. When asked why I would pay more, I responded that some one in Elyria , Ohio, where it was manufactured , would have dinner tonight. I don’t even want to talk about the second item, a $15 pair of gloves, made in Pakistan!
Something else may be in the wind. The Repatriation of GM.
While most media coverage honed in on the bashing Unions took in Michigan’s right-to work legislation a few weeks ago, few noticed a story that sent the Canadian Auto Workers Union into panic mode. GM, the maker of the legendary , Camaro, has decided to move production of that car back to Michigan, at the end of its current design run. This decision probably came about for reasons, other than those given, we will never know. But could it be that GM has also noticed a trend to “Buy American”, that the economy, and other social forces have brought to the surface?
I think my daughter may be onto something.