Monday, March 12, 2018

The American Content Act

"We need a new law called the American Content Act. Then it will be up to the individual if he or she wants to buy an item made off shore, or here. Or - we can all resurrect those old bumper stickers from fifty years ago - 'Buy a foreign car, and help 10 Americans lose their jobs.'"

How many people, when they go shopping for ANYTHING these days, look to see the country of origin on the product? My wife and I always do. Even some foods at the grocery store. What good does it do to buy a souvenir in Panama, or Alaska which are made in China?

How many have had a discussion with a friend or neighbor which goes something like this:  (You) "I see you bought a foreign car." (Response) "Well, it is not really foreign. Some of it is made in the USA." (You) "How much?" (Response) {blank stare}, Then, "Don't know - that is what I was told". 

President Trump has taken quite a bit of "blow back" from some domestic and foreign sources about this tariff thing. The only reason the President suggested tariffs on steel and aluminum is to cut down our trade deficit. But - here is another slant to this issue. What about if we left the entire issue of having a trade deficit or trade surplus totally up to the people who buy stuff. In other words, when you buy something (anything), a tag on the merchandise would reveal what percentage the labor was American, and what percentage of the material derived was American.

In other words, if someone looked at the tag on an item being procured, and found out it contained less than 10% American labor and contained100% South Korean steel, that could influence a buying decision. Or not. 

Not to sound like I am a Dodd-Frank aficionado, I would like to see Congress pass a law called the American Content Act. Why? Simply put, it would only define what percentage of the product is American derived, and what percentage of the labor was done onshore. It really should not cost that much for any company to comply with new law. All that information is already known by most companies.

A friend of mine who follows this blog, reminded me that just about everything produced can be made in America. I agree. With the exception of some Rare Earths or Titanium, we have most all of the raw materials we needed to produce products. If people in this country don't care where stuff is made, and what is made from, that is one of our freedoms. We just need to know the more stuff we buy is made "over there" results in the less stuff made here. We then need to find new jobs, to replace the jobs which have been lost.

Right now, it is hard to know what is made where. When I bragged to a friend of mine about buying American when I bought my last truck, he looked at me and laughed. "You have no clue how much of your truck was make here. Or even if it was made with American steel." Ouch - and he was right.

That is my take. We need a new law called the American Content Act. Then it will be up to the individual if he or she wants to buy an item made off shore, or here. Or - we can all resurrect those old bumper stickers from fifty years ago - "Buy a foreign car, and help 10 Americans lose their jobs."



  1. Nothing wrong with that idea, and it seems to me that at one time we had something like that. But it strikes me as being somewhat backwards, trying to affect the demand side, when what we should be looking at is the supply side, and the many ways in which our government makes it impossible for our own companies to be the low-cost provider in our own market. I always tell the story about a company I knew that built stamped steel products. They were paying the press operator $20/hour at the time, and they found out they could hire people in Malaysia (I think) to do the same job for 5 cents/hour. The problem was that each Malaysian could produce about 20 pieces per hour (with hand tools) while the US operator could produce 20 per SECOND! Americans, working with capital equipment, outproduced cheap foreign labor. We have the advantage but government's taxes and regulations prevent our exercising it. And those things that we can not produce at less cost we should buy from somebody else in a truly free market.

    1. The top ten problems for business in America
      45's administration has failed miserably on the first two, made some progress on several others (to the detriment of the environment and employee safety).
      1. The federal tax code
      2. The Affordable Care Act
      3. Overtime rules
      4. Independent contractor test
      5. The evolving joint employer standard
      6. Reporting pay data by gender and race
      7. EPA’s expansion of Clean Water Act jurisdiction
      8. The fiduciary rule for investment advice
      9. Limits on carbon emissions from power plants
      10. State licensing requirements
      I still think it is best to buy cheap overseas goods and spend the money saved on local goods or bank it. It will be many years until we can overcome the negative financial impact of unions running wild with pay and benefits in both the private and public sectors.

  2. 45 now has an entirely military NSC. Just about as dangerous to the country as the Reichstag was to Germany. Out of Iran Agreement within the month, which will make the NORK's less liable to consider us trustworthy! America is fu...d!

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  4. There is a vast gulf between protecting "environment and worker safety" and sensible regulation. That Decalogue only scratches the surface of the many hurdles and disadvantages heaped on American businesses. When we can ship our raw materials to Taiwan, build the product and ship it back for less than it cost to make it here, there is something radically wrong with our business environment. I have seen it, even between US states.

    1. Wages and Benefits. We wanted them, we got them, we lost our manufacturing. Simple.

  5. Well, yes, except that we didn't just "want" them. "We" formed unions, protected by government edict, and DEMANDED them, the company be d**d. I used to live in Pittsburgh, center of the steel industry. The union was on strike to PREVENT the installation of new, better furnaces that would mean fewer workers. At the time, the newest steel plant in the US was older than the oldest steel plant in Japan. Guess what happened. Had the company been allowed to modernize, we could have kept some of the jobs and most of the market.