The issue of where things come from is vitally significant to our wellbeing, economically and otherwise. Every purchase we make affects the world around us.
By: Alan Uke
Imagine a store where you shop. You have a look at two products that seem remarkably similar. There is a label on one product that shows it has twenty per cent of its content from America. The other is entirely Indonesian.
You remember that a friend’s son works in the industry designing parts for this type of product. This inspires you to buy the product that has at least has some American content, knowing you are also, in some way, contributing to someone’s job security in America—your friend’s son or someone like him. The next week he gets a raise.
This cause-and-effect scenario is realistic if the new country of origin label I am advocating in my book, Buying America Back: A Real Deal Blueprint for Restoring American Prosperity, comes to fruition. As it stands, country of origin labels are misleading, because products come from all over, not just one place. This new label would also show our trade ratio with each nation involved.
The issue of where things come from is vitally significant to our wellbeing, economically and otherwise. Every purchase we make affects the world around us. If we buy a shirt that’s been produced in South East Asia in sweatshop conditions, we are participating in that abuse. If we buy electronics made somewhere with no environmental regulations, we are supporting that pollution and encouraging that company to expand, causing more degradation. Furthermore, if we buy the majority of our goods from a country that has an imbalanced ratio with our own (for instance, China, that purchases roughly 25 cents for every dollar we buy from them), we are effectively sending our jobs overseas.
Recently, a lot of people have begun to support the “Buy Local” movement. People like locally owned, independent businesses with some character in their neighborhoods, and they express support by specifically buying from these businesses. When you buy local, you are putting your money where your values are. You are marking a vote for independent local business and voting against the behemoth big box stores that often pay their employees poorly and import most of their stock.
Like raising a child, buying FOR your country is more complex than one might imagine. It is best to buy as much American content as possible, because those purchases directly benefit our nation. Buying from an equal trade partner is a close second. For instance, 79 cents comes back to us from Korea, 73 cents from Taiwan and 90 cents from Canada. Knowing the nationality of the manufacturer is also important because their taxes and management salaries go back to that country.
Say you are looking at buying a new television. You may be comparing two brands. One of them is Chinese made, the other Korean. Looking at the cost by country breakdown, you can see that the Korean television has 10% American content and 90% Korean content. The Chinese television is all Chinese. The products may be comparable in price, but buying the Korean television has much higher value for you financially, and for your own community in the future, especially given that Korea buys more from America.
If we buy American, or from countries with which we have a balanced trade relationship, the money comes back and supports well-paying jobs here. This difference in content may employ our children and grandchildren in the future.
About the Author:
Alan Uke is a San Diego entrepreneur, community leader and founder of Underwater Kinetics. He is author of the new book BUYING AMERICA BACK: A Real Deal Blueprint for Restoring American Prosperity. To learn more information about the book, how to join this movement or sign the petition telling Congress the need for a new Countries of Origin Labeling Act, please visit Buying Back America.