Buying Made In America Should Be A Priority
I’ve worn cowboy boots or ropers and Wrangler jeans just about every day of my life since I was old enough to say that’s what I wanted to wear. There are few photographs of me in anything but, and most of those duds came from either The Browse Shop or The Cow Lot or Cooley’s. Two of those three have long since shuttered their storefronts. I make no secret of the fact that I am big on ‘Buy American’. If we don’t support our local businesses, they won’t last long. Likewise, if we don’t support American manufacturing, what’s left of it won’t be around long either.
I’m really getting tired of hearing ‘well, it IS a global economy, so we have to outsource’. No, actually we don’t. We’ve painted ourselves into a corner and that’s how we’ve chosen to deal with the problem. We’ve become a society of I-want-it-now-and-cheap consumers who scoff at the notion of paying ‘too much’. This spoiled brat attitude of ours, coupled with a punitive tax system and far too many politicians who couldn’t give a damn less if they tried has put us where we are today. Berkshire Hathaway, the firm headed by that mental giant Warren Buffett (he says the rich need to pay more taxes, but his company owes taxes back to 2002-go figure) purchased Justin Boot Company a few years ago. Guess what? Somewhere between 30% and 50% of all Justin product is now made in China!
Ain’t that a kick in the head? Cowboy boots made in China. But so are many western style belts, tons of shirts and even some jeans. Why should the boots be any different? My chief problem with all of this Made in China business (aside from an obvious lack of quality most of the time) is with their communist government, oppressive working conditions (damn near slave labor) and their relatively new habit of trying to tell America what and what not to do. Yes, I realize they’ve purchased a tanker load of our debt-thanks Washington. But it'll be a cold day in hell before this cowboy salutes a communist or shows them anything resembling respect. All of it flies in the face of every principle this country is supposed to stand for.
But in some cases, we are left no other option but to use their products, that is if we wish to live in the modern here-and-now world. Communism was the scourge of the earth just 30 short years ago. Now, we are all but embracing it in the name of cheap, plentiful goods. For decades, we’ve slowly but surely destroyed American industry. And we all bear some responsibility here; the consumer for being cheap, greedy and selfish; industry for being cheap, greedy and selfish and the shareholders for being cheap, greedy and selfish. Our priorities are screwed up, to say the least. My favorite jeans, the Wrangler 13MWZ’s always had made in USA on the label, until about 2008. I got a pair for Christmas that year and noticed the label read ‘Made in Costa Rica with USA fabric’. Now, they mostly say made in Mexico. Ross Perot warned us about NAFTA. Now, we’re reaping the rewards of that stupid idea, backed in 1992 by both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Thanks guys. I contacted the folks at Wrangler for an explanation. Several weeks later, I received a very short email saying it was all about cost control. Somehow, it's cheaper for Wrangler to manufacture the denim in America, put it on trucks and ship it to Mexico, make the jeans in Mexico, put the jeans on trucks and ship them back here. Somehow that whole hot mess saves money? How's that possible? I'll take a shot in the dark here and say labor unions have much to do with that situation. Prove me wrong if you can.
Before you start throwing stones at me for sounding anti-capitalist, you’d better realize two things about me: one, I am a Constitutional Conservative, which means our republics sovereignty is of the utmost importance to me and secondly, I’m a Texan, which means I’m fiercely independent and loyal. That said my stance on this couldn’t be more pro-capitalist and pro-America. We have very little consumer goods manufacturing left in America and we’d better support what we have and insist on more being brought back to America. Limited government means more and bigger opportunities for the masses. It lets the innovators do what they do best.
American made usually means top quality. Take something as simple as the baseball glove. Did you know that the only American made baseball gloves still on the market are made right here in our backyard? Nokona Ball Gloves are made in Nocona, Texas. And no, I did not misspell the word Nocona, the company name is with a ‘k’, not a ‘c’. I’ll bet some of you have never heard of Nokona sporting goods. You won’t find a Nokona glove or bat at a Wal-Mart or K-Mart or Target. They are high-quality and not cheap. The last glove I priced was around $200. I’m told you can spend upwards of $500 on a Nokona glove. But I know a couple of guys who had theirs for 20 or 30 years and with care, they are still in fantastic shape. Nokona’s been around since 1934.
The point is we do still have some consumer goods made in this country. Tools, curtains, furniture, even some household appliances are still made in USA. The Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer is a good example. It’s still made in Greenville, OH. It’s a little expensive, but my wife owns one and wouldn’t trade it for the world. We should all strive to purchase those goods anytime we can. For us, the end users, it’s how we support American industry. Our political leaders need to get right and get rid of the punitive tax code we have. The current IRS rules total close to 80,000 pages and are nearly impossible for a team of tax lawyers to understand. The little bit I’ve read nearly gave me a stroke. This system has become one of the chief impediments to investment and expansion; it punishes success. Yes, our government has to collect taxes to raise revenue to run things. But doing so to the detriment of our economy’s ability to grow, expand, innovate and produce in America made no sense 100 years ago and makes even less sense today.