Thursday, October 23, 2003

Made in the USA

I like to support my fellow American worker. It's my responsibility, and I try to instill that as a value in the people I love.

I take note of the place of manufacture when I buy my vehicles. It would be great if someone would set up a web site that would contain a database of products, of all kinds, and show where they are manufactured, and who makes the profit on the sale too. I would like to see indications, too, on advertisements, and articles.

I think that I'm probably not alone in this desire. I've heard of movements in certain industries, beef, for example, if memory serves, that tug at the patriotic heartstrings of the American consumer to buy product made in the good old USA. I know that I would visit a site like that frequently. It would be important for me to know as much as possible about the source of raw materials, parts, labor, final assembly, packaging, shipping, in order to help me make my buying decision.

Obviously, a Toyota or BMW, for example, assembled domestically, supports the American worker, but the profits for that car leave the country and enrich a foreign company. I'm not saying that we should shut our borders to imports; that's not my point. In this current global economy, there are some good reasons that we should support imports with our dollars. I would like to be as educated in this area as possible, so that I can make an informed choice.

I've used automobiles as a good example, but if you stop to consider it, an automobile purchase usually happens less than one every two years or more, for most people. Although it is a large expenditure, I would like to concentrate on more day-to-day items. Toasters. Clothing. Gasoline comes to mind. Now, I don't expect that any large portion of the world's oil reserves come from the USA, but I would like to know that I am supporting a company that makes the effort. Or at least does not support countries suspected of questionable activities.

I am a big gadget fan, and I own many pieces of electronic equipment: MP3 and CD players, personal, portable TVs, more than two computers, and so on. My digital camera, which I love, is a Sony. (Shame on me? I don't know, I do what I can.) When I bought my Cybershot camera, it was on the open-box rack at Sears. It had all the features I wanted, and I couldn't pass up the offer. It was too good. I've been very happy with it for almost four years now. But when I bought it, I thought about an American-made product. Let's at least keep it in mind. Think about it. Be aware of your purchasing dollars, and where they end up. Some agency ran an ad campaign targeting the illicit drug user, on TV, radio, and in print. They said that every time someone bought illegal drugs off the street, they were supporting terrorism. Similar thought, I guess. Think about where your purchase dollars end up. But illegal drugs, and the black market that supports them, is a story for another day.

I do not have the ability or resources to arrange such a website, but I can certainly envision one. It would look like this: The user would drill-down to the product from a list, pull-down menu, or search, and be able to see a graphical representation of the national origin of that product, in a list of equivalent items for comparison. I see a simplified pie-chart graphic, with various colors, representing the USA (perhaps green), our closest allies, such as Canada, Great Britain, etc. (in blue, maybe, or yellow), another color for less favorably associated countries, all the way through black, or red, for enemy countries, or ones that are under economic embargo. Each product would be available for further detail of origin, as mentioned earlier, like raw materials, parts, labor, assembly, prep, distribution network, etc. Also, various factors should be footnoted for special circumstances (such as one country's exclusive, or virtually exclusive, access to a production material (like Hungarian paprika)).