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Why Buy American Made Products?

Laura Ramos
Why Buy American?
E306 Rhetoric and Composition
University of Texas at Austin

When this question is asked, most Americans do not really seem concerned as to why they should purchase American made products. These same people represent the majority of America which is the middle class. Middle class Americans should definitely be concerned with the buy American issue. They are the ones being most affected, whether they know it or not. For example on the way to work one might complain about how his or her salary is decreasing while at the same time wearing an imported outfit and driving a foreign car. They are simply not informed on the whole issue, although more and more Americans are getting educated as to why this is happening to them. This is demonstrated when Macionis (a sociologist who received his doctorate at Cornell) writes, " The Buy American" movement, teams manufacturers and workers in an effort to persuade consumers to purchase products made in the United States" (16). In recent years this concern is becoming of greater concern. The reason being that drastic numbers of Americans are losing their jobs to other countries or are being paid less as a result of this. There are other negative consequences that come from this. That is why I propose that Americans should buy more American made goods.

My proposal addresses the very serious problem, of lost jobs. It has been reported by Dudley ( an author who spent 2 years researching plant closure) that "...the number of manufacturing jobs lost soared past 850,000 in 1988" (408). Occurrences like this are due to the deindustrialization, this is when the U.S. government allows American corporations to move good jobs out of the country. Basically this means there is a wide spread shift in what companies are investing in. Dudley also illustrates this by stating "Over 1,800 manufacturing plants in Mexico"(407). The main goal these U.S corporations increase profits. Macionis describes this by saying, " corporations enter these countries to gain access to raw materials, inexpensive labor, and vast lower tax liabilities and to move money from country to country, profiting from fluctuating currency rates"(276). Keep in mind these multinational companies are willing to do anything to increase profits even if it means betraying their employees.

Multinational corporations certainly betray their employees, by abandoning them usually with no explanation or assistance. Luis (a man who experienced this) says "Not only must you deal with anxiety of the unknown, you must also come to terms with what you have lost..., not what you have voluntarily give up, but what has been taken from you"(414). These Americans also have a rough time finding jobs at comparable pay. Manufacturing plant jobs are increasingly declining due to reasons stated earlier. As a result the middle class is steadily decreasing. Some former employees who have dependent families even fall to or below the poverty level. Donna (a former plant worker) is an example of this, she expresses her fear of indigence " I would rather kill myself than have to put my kids through not having enough food or a good place to live"(409). This could lead to more problems with America's youth. Ask yourself why would anyone want to support companies who cause these type of hardships among Americans?

Consider other negative affects of deindustrialization. In Wolff's (an author for Science & Sociology) article he writes on Moseley's (author of "The Falling Rate in Post War U.S. Economy") research of the U.S. economy. Moseley finds "...a very significant increase in the share of unproductive labor...from 46% in 1950 to 78% in 1980"(1). You can relate this statement because unproductive labor is low-paying service work. Moseley sees this as a major reason why the U.S economy's profits have been decreasing. Therefore the loss of stable American jobs specifically leads to low-paying service work, which hurts the economy. To better see how these factors are related you have to view it on a wider scale. Meaning that once the economy is hurt no one benefits. Everyone suffers because as the majority of Americans (the middle class) lose jobs their buying power goes down. When this happens some U.S companies go out of business therefore American's ability to purchase a variety of goods declines. Buying power is decreased then further jobs are lost. The long term affect could be an on going cycle of deprivation which could lead to mass poverty.

The solution to all these problems lies in the proposal, Americans should buy American made products. This is true because once Americans start buying more American goods the demand for them will increase. As a result of the rising demand, more factories or plants will be developed. Many good job opportunities will then be available. Not only will the manufacturers benefit, openings in higher paying fields will increase. A few of these include the engineers of the building and the plumbing and construction companies. Hence when all this is put into action many Americans will be on better economic standing. That means they will once again have high buying power. Rising profits for American base business and their employees will take place. All of this combined will keep the U.S economy and its citizens financially healthy. In order to achieve this, all Americans must be properly informed by the government, as to why they should buy American.

To further prove why this proposal should be enacted, opposing views will be disputed. First of all to argue the loss of jobs, opponents would say that we should not be selfish. And deny unfortunate countries the benefits that American companies could bring. They believe multinational corporations offer great productivity, new jobs, and advanced technology. They feel that all these reasons combined will greatly enhance the poor societies economic growth. To argue this Macionis wrote on the research of some dependency theorists (Vaughn,1978; Walterstein,1979; Delcroix & Ragin, 1981; Bergesen,1983). These theorist found that "Multinational investments ...actually creates few jobs, inhibits the growth of local industries, and pushes developing countries to produce goods for export rather than food and other products for local consumption" (276). Another issue is that bad working conditions exists because the companies want to cut back on cost. Multinational investments neither benefit our country nor poor countries. In fact they only make those poor societies poorer by making them dependent on the U.S.

Secondly opponents say that multinational companies care for their former employees well-being. They point out that they relocate their former employees hence personally look after them. Relocating is usually not the case and when it is there are down sides to it. One is that the wages will probably be half of their previous earnings because these U.S. companies are losing business. In Dudley's piece she mentions two economists, Harrison and Bluestone ( authors of the book "The Great U-Turn"). These economists report "...there has been a dramatic decline in the creation of good-paying jobs since the early 1970s"(404). Another drawback is that many employees have no warning or any type of previous information that the company is being closed down. Several employees find out impersonally, like the evening news or a radio station. This shows that these corporations do not care about their former employees well-being. Also this betrayal causes former workers to experience great hardships like stress, poverty, and anxiety.

Lastly those who disagree, claim that not buying American does not directly affect them. True it does not affect them when they buy foreign made products that were created and have their own companies in their country. These companies do not take away American jobs. It can be seen as a balancing act of trade between the U.S and other countries. We sell our goods over seas and they sell theirs in the U.S., without the loss of either country's jobs. We can see how they will be affected wrongly by referring to the U.S economy again. When the economy is hurt, they too must suffer. The only people that do not experience negative effects are the very small percent of Americans that make up the top upper class. This can in no way be justified as right, the wealthy get wealthier at the cost of everyone else. If this continues, two social classes would then form, the extremely rich and the extremely poor. Even further down the line it would be inevitable that the rich would be affected. When the economy is in this unhealthy state no one will be able to purchase the wealthy's products, which would eventually lead them to go out of business.

Americans losing jobs, a suffering economy, bad consequences for the U.S.' future and the exploitation of disadvantaged countries are all serious problems that stem from deindustrialization. By purchasing from corporations who practice deindustrialization one is adding to and approving of the problem. Think of the proposal, Americans should buy American made products, it makes sense to act upon it. The only way to change or prevent this is to not support multinational companies and to buy American made goods.

Works Cited

Ferguson, Susan J., et al., eds. Mapping the Social Landscape: Readings in Sociology. California: Mayfield, 1996.

Macionis, John J. Society, the Basics. 3rd ed. New Jersey: Prentince-Hall, 1996.

Wolff, Edward N. "Is a Discussion of Unproductive Labor Still Productive?" Science & Society. 58 (1994): 204-210.

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