CROSS: Made in USA or making China rich?

David Cross 

David Cross 

Our economy is clearly recovering. But, it is doing so at an anemic pace and far too slowly considering the damage that was done.

One of the reasons is lack of job growth from products manufactured in the United States. Much of the “stuff” we buy is being made overseas because it is cheaper to produce that way. Consumers demand low prices and retailers oblige by buying products overseas. Along with lower prices, we have also gotten lower quality.

Have you ever noticed where the products you buy are made? An ever increasing percentage are made China. I challenge you to go an entire week without buying something made in China. It’s not impossible but it is difficult. When we buy products made in China, we are shipping our savings and our standard of living to China and the country is getting rich off our demand for cheap products.

My wife will tell you that I’m not a fan of Wal-Mart right now and I forbid my children from buying anything at “The Dollar Store.” The reason is simple — products produced in China just don’t last very long. It’s no accident. It’s called planned obsolescence and it is a huge annuity stream to China. When you buy that cheap toy or product made in China, you rarely know what it is made of or what company produced it. But you can be sure of two things — it will break soon, you will throw it away and you will probably buy another one — shipping more of your dollars off to China.

Consumers put up with planned obsolescence because we (and our kids) want things right now and we don’t want the purchase to pinch our wallets. Remember what your parents taught you about delayed gratification? While it feels good in the short run, you will likely spend just as much as if you had purchased a quality item that is built to last.

American products and the American work ethic are the envy of the world. American products use the best materials, superior workmanship and they usually last much longer than the cheap knock-offs.

American products are copied, and built cheaper with poor quality and in some cases toxic materials all in the name of low prices. Because so many businesses compete with “the low price leader,” many businesses think they too must compete on the lowest price and make up the difference on volume. I call it the Wal-Martization of America. While that strategy works in the short run, it is a losing proposition for the business, the consumer, and our country in the long run.

So what can you do? Make an effort to buy American products. Ask the stores you buy from (including Wal-Mart) to put American products on the shelves. At the very least be aware of what you are buying and where it is made.

There’s power in those pennies.

David Cross is a Suwanee resident.