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Oh Beautiful

When I think about subjects for my blog post, I try to focus on topics that relate to writing or pieces that reflect my skills as a writer, or my perspectives on life. Politics and religious debates are items I typically and purposely avoid––until today. Sorry…but not really.

Part of my daily routine is to login to Facebook to see what’s happening in the world, and to find out what some of my family and friends are up to. Friday I spotted a post shared by a friend (the real kind, not just the Facebook variety) from Normally I scan through FB posts, reply to a few, and move on. But thoughts about the Federal Soup entry kept churning, so I figured, Why not?

Federal Soup’s post title was: Agencies have just two months to comply with ‘Buy American’ EO. The content of the message indicated that our reigning US president issued an executive order for every government agency to purchase all products required for their agency’s operation from American sources rather than foreign suppliers. An admirable idea, but…

My friend’s reply to the post was: “One Executive order I can agree with. We all should buy American whenever possible.” Again, an admirable thought that I also can agree with, but…

Although I concur with both the president’s decree and my friend’s view, there’s one problem with the overall theory…actually two. 1) For the everyday consumer, buying purely American limits the number of products we can buy, which too frequently is not what we need. 2) In today’s world, many American brand name products are made elsewhere––China for example. (When was the last time you bought US made ‘tennis’ shoes?) A great deal of our produce is shipped from Mexico, Central America, and South America. Plus (okay this makes three problems), when 100% American products can be found, their higher price deters folks on limited budgets from buying them. And (okay, I’m no longer keeping track) just what makes a product ‘American’ anyway? According to the VIN, my ‘Japanese’ pickup was built in the US, which means American workers were employed to assemble the vehicle. This business tactic also applies to many industries outside the automotive world. And even if US consumers could solely buy 100% American made, how many Americans (and others) would be unemployed as a result of that flag-waving boycott?

Let’s face it, folks, the Oh Beautiful era has come and gone. We currently live in a Catch-22, damned-if-we-do-damned-if we-don’t society that we––government and citizens alike––created years ago that has escalated to the situations outlined above. When I was growing up in the US during the ’50s and into the ’60s, American goods were all we bought because that’s primarily all there was. As time passed, however, purchasing imports tracked from fad status to the buying norm. People took notice of lower-priced imported goods and flocked to buy them. Markets changed, businesses faded, jobs went overseas, unemployment rose, and here we are today. Unfortunately, even a time-constricted executive order can’t immediately reverse a problem that took generations to establish––especially when it involves government…which leads me to the final issue in this exposé: the hypocrisy of an executive order generated by a man whose own brand name products are manufactured overseas. As my grandma used to say, “That’s the pot calling the kettle black. And that ain’t right.”

Is a buy American-in-America economy possible? I’d like to think so, but it’s hard to say. Achieving that goal will require a lot of concessions from every American. For a business to stay in business, the consumer goods and services they sell are priced to ensure a profit for their company, while covering operations overhead, including employee wages and benefits. But how much profit is enough? Employees’ wages need to be substantial enough to afford those consumer goods and services, plus their personal overhead––housing, healthcare, transportation, childcare, plus a little left over for fun. Again, how much is enough? If the buy American, bring American businesses back to America concept is to work, a balance needs to be found. As a proud American, I’d like to see America the Beautiful restored. And I promise to do my best to buy American products and services whenever possible, but…

2 thoughts on “Oh Beautiful

  1. Love your quotes for the week. One of my favorites: “We’re all in this together……………… ourselves.” Lily Tomlin


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