Buy American, but not because it’s legislated

Buying American is not always an easy thing to do.
Oct 21, 2013


The search for American-made — or at least partially American-made — items can be a challenge. Statistics from economic research groups target clothing and shoes as the worst culprit because only 10 percent of them are manufactured domestically.

Overall estimates for products consumed and made here in the good ol’ USA range from 40 percent to as high as 75 percent.

That’s a big range. But certainly worse than in the 1960s, when only one in every 10 items purchased in the U.S. was foreign-made.

It’s widely recognized among policymakers and political pundits that the decline in American-made goods directly impacts our economy. They attribute it to everything from failed trade policies to cheaper labor and fewer regulations overseas.

So, when the Michigan Senate unanimously approved a bill that would ban local governments from buying foreign-made American flags to place on veterans’ graves, our initial reaction was favorable.

Sure, why not make it so our veterans who fought for our country also have an American-made flag fluttering next to their gravestones? That makes sense.

But then the fine print of the bill caught us off-guard. Local governments may still buy foreign-made flags if the American-made flags aren’t “competitively priced.”


Then, of course, the question arose of who’s going to be the flag police? And how exactly would this be enforced?

The bill, on closer inspection, turns out to be nothing more than feel-good legislation. And that, and this situation in which we find ourselves, is sad.

How about instead of issuing unenforceable edicts to our local governments, our state senators look at ways to grow the business of manufacturing in our great state? Why don’t they investigate ways to better promote American-made, or Michigan-made, products here and abroad?

Why don’t they become a part of the solution?

Luckily, we all can become part of the solution, and that’s by looking for American-made products when we shop. We guarantee it will be a needle in the haystack, and we’ll have to pay more for these products, but wouldn’t it be worth it to make the effort?

That effort would pay the most honor to, and have the most impact on, all of our veterans — and the country.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



"Why don’t they become a part of the solution?"
That's an easy one to answer. Follow the money; more profits to be made from outsourcing equals more campaign donations to our public 'servants'.
Clear labeling of country of origin would make it easier to buy American, seemingly common sense legislation, though it doesn't happen.


While I agree with what you're saying, I would only like to suggest that legislation to make manufacturers label their products with a country of origin label or sticker should not be the kind of legislation that our representatives waste their time on.

The manufacturers themselves should have enough awareness and pride in their own product to label their American made products as such so those of us who try to buy American whenever possible will choose them over the cheaper, lower quality Chinese (or whatever) knockoff product.

Government isn't needed to address this situation.

(How's that Lani?)


Emoticon! Thoughtful response. One I happen to agree with. Not nearly as witty and pitty as your typical comment, but a refreshing change of pace every once in a while to keep us on our toes.

"Will he, or won't he" - that is the question!


It seems silly that lawmakers have to deal with that, especially when they come up with that kind of fine print. But what would you expect from those representatives any ways, lots of money is going to come from outsourcing lobbyists.
It is pretty important to protect the label. Before you even know it products may be labeled "Made in the USA", just because some body in the US opened the box from China and put the product on the shelf. Every time you buy "Not made in the USA" you support outsourcing and you might as well ship your own job. And those are jobs in Design, Engineering, Manufacturing, Purchasing ... etc.


Not to be biased or something, but buying American products is like buying the real deal. The product they are selling have the highest quality. - Marla Ahlgrimm


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