by Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing
In a special July 4 guest column at the AFL-CIO blog, Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing says one way we can all show our patriotism and boost the economy is to do our best to buy American-made products.
Enjoy the fireworks today and thank our Founding Fathers for the freedom we enjoy. While you are at it, thank them for making manufacturing a central part of the American idea.
Paul Revere was a patriot; he was also a manufacturer. In fact, the company bearing his name still operates today, now in upstate New York. Alexander Hamilton is well known as our nation’s first Treasury secretary, but few Americans know that he also wrote our nation’s first manufacturing policy in 1791.
That manufacturing policy, coupled with the best workers, resources, universities and economic development strategy, made us the world’s leading manufacturer by 1900. It’s a title we held for 110 years, and sadly, one we are now relinquishing to China.
Our nation faces dramatically different challenges today than we did in 1776, but we could use some of that revolutionary spirit. If are you as tired as I am of the stale debate in Washington on the future of our economy, take matters into your own hands: Buy American.
If every American spent $64 a year more on American-made products, we’d create 200,000 new jobs. Talk about a stimulus plan.
It’s easier to Buy American than you might think. ABC World News gutted a house of imports and restocked it with American-made products. A store in upstate New York sells only Made in America goods; it has become a tourist destination and offers 30,000 items. A concerted effort by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) led the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., to open an American-made gift shop. Urban manufacturing coalitions are forming in cities like New York and San Francisco. “Maker Faires” are popping up all over America, celebrating our ingenuity and desire to work with our hands and well as our minds.
There is plenty that Washington could do to create more family-supporting manufacturing jobs, such as holding China accountable for unfair trade practices, investing in infrastructure, boosting skills and training opportunities, strengthening domestic procurement preferences, making the tax code friendlier to domestic production (and penalizing outsourcers) and investing in clean energy. And we need to make sure all of that gets done.
But why wait? You can declare your own economic independence this Fourth of July. Spend a little more on American-made goods. Ask your coworkers, friends and neighbors to do the same. Challenge the big box stores to stock more American-made products, because the demand is there. We live in a globalized world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have pride in our nation, our workers and the things we make. The world is a better place when America has a strong economy, a healthy manufacturing base and a labor movement filled with a sense of purpose.
This post first appeared on the blog of the AFL-CIO.