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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Not very magical, still... » » A question: American-made vs foreign-made (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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George Ledo
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Not wanting to derail "that other thread," here's a new question...

A lot of businesses source out their fabrication to other countries because it's cheaper - even including transportation and customs - to have their products made this way. After all, businesses need to make a profit and therefore have to be very careful about pricing their products according to the market. Fabricating products here in the U.S. has become too expensive for some industries, due to things like OSHA, ADA, labor unions, health insurance, liability insurance, local regulations, ambulance chasers, and such.

So the question is, would you be willing to pay more for a product made in the U.S. than for the same product made overseas? Let's assume that the business complies with all regulations, that it requires prospective employees to prove that they are "legal" to work in the U.S., and that it pays a reasonable wage. And let's further assume that it's an everyday product, not a specialized or luxury item.

I would love to throw this question out to the general public, but let's start here.
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S2000magician
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If the U.S. doesn't have a comparative advantage (an absolute advantage isn't necessary) in manufacturing certain items, then it shouldn't be manufacturing those items.
Magnus Eisengrim
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Quote:
On Aug 29, 2015, S2000magician wrote:
If the U.S. doesn't have a comparative advantage (an absolute advantage isn't necessary) in manufacturing certain items, then it shouldn't be manufacturing those items.


Assuming that economic efficiency is the only relevant criterion.
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No.
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George Ledo
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Okay, so I think I'm hearing that you would not pay more for a U.S.-made product if you feel that it shouldn't be made here.

I'm trying to phrase this question at a level that "a guy on the street" could answer. Smile Maybe I need to re-phrase it.
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If the product is better due to being produced in the US, yes. If there is a marginal price difference, I would choose the US product, although it's really hard to tell these days, and truthfully I don't specifically look for countries of manufacture. Some products are "Assembled" in the USA, but manufactured elsewhere.
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I will support local agricultural product and lumber whenever possible.
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In theory, I would -- just as I will frequent a local, owner-operated restaurant over a less expensive chain as long as the food is reasonably comparable. I shop at a local hardware store even though they sometimes charge more than Home Depot, and I like to listen to the old-timers on stools by the counter.

But, I don't always believe a "made in America" ad. Often some of the assmebled items are manufactured elsewhere. Some cars are assembled in the USA but all profits got to Japan or Korea or even Denmark.

Henry Rifle claims that every item in their product is made in the USA. Too bad I am not in the market for one.

So, how does one know if the item is actually "American-made?"
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George Ledo
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There was some hubbub recently about the Apple factories in China: low wages, bad working conditions, and so forth. But people here still buy iPhones and other i's made there. So the question becomes, would you (the general public) be willing to support workers in this country by paying more for the exact same i-whatever? Ten percent more? Fifty percent? A hundred percent?
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landmark
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Quote:
Maybe I need to re-phrase it.

"Should Americans buy American?"

Yes. But not easy at all, given supply chains.
RogerTheShrubber
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Quote:
On Aug 29, 2015, George Ledo wrote:
Not wanting to derail "that other thread," here's a new question...

A lot of businesses source out their fabrication to other countries because it's cheaper - even including transportation and customs - to have their products made this way. After all, businesses need to make a profit and therefore have to be very careful about pricing their products according to the market. Fabricating products here in the U.S. has become too expensive for some industries, due to things like OSHA, ADA, labor unions, health insurance, liability insurance, local regulations, ambulance chasers, and such.

So the question is, would you be willing to pay more for a product made in the U.S. than for the same product made overseas? Let's assume that the business complies with all regulations, that it requires prospective employees to prove that they are "legal" to work in the U.S., and that it pays a reasonable wage. And let's further assume that it's an everyday product, not a specialized or luxury item.

I would love to throw this question out to the general public, but let's start here.


My answer to your question is no, a resonunding no. I used to buy American to be supportive when I was single, but once I had a family to support I dropped that habit fast.

I, like almost anyone else who makes his own living, already pay too much for the overbearing, out-of-control government whose ridiculous and endless regulations are squeezing the life out of American businesses to begin with. With what I have left, I go for best bang for the buck, and if that means everything I buy is made in China, Japan and Korea, that's the way it goes. I understand that such an attitude makes it harder for American business, but I have a family of five to feed and no amount of small gestures on my part is going to change anything. The more the government can get away with in terms of squeezing business, the more it's going to. If Americans were to suddenly ignore overseas products and buy only American, you'd just see more taxes and more regulations in response. Nothing is going to change for the better, ever, and I'm not going to pay extra for it anymore.

Further, while I support the right to unionize, I see less and less instances where I actually side with a union in labor disputes and I'm not going to pay more than I have to just to fund their retirement when I have my own to concern myself with. I haven't bought an American car since 1988 and I probably never will again. I am not concerned with the wages a company pays its employees unless it's the one that signs my checks, so this "reasonable wage" issue you mention doesn't come into it at all - I have never believed that a workweek of 40 hours should be a guarantee of a comfortable living to begin with (and don't get me started on the demands of fast food workers). A person's salary is not my business unless it's mine or my wife's, and I'm not willing to pay more just so that someone else gets what they deem a reasonable wage.

In terms of the economy, the government doesn't look out for business and it doesn't look out for us. All it does is grow bigger and squeeze harder, and as a result we work more and more for less and less. The only people who will look out for you are you and yours, so no matter how good your intentions are, we're past the point where we can make a difference, and bang for the buck should be your first priority. It's certainly mine. I can't stop the government from screwing me, but I am no longer going to screw myself just to be a nice supportive guy, as I did for years and years with no positive result. When I want to leave myself with less money, I donate to charties I know will do some good - at least that way I get something out of it.
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+1 for Roger The Shrubber.
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+2!!!
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FWIW, the United States has one of the most self-contained economies in the world. Only about 15% of its GDP is tied to the import of goods and services. Among developed nations, that figure is (or is about) the lowest. For many nations the corresponding figure is 40 to 80 percent.
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George Ledo
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This is getting interesting now. Interesting as in learning stuff I didn't know or didn't think about.

One of these days I'm going to look online for something that tells me how much in manufactured products was sold in the U.S. over the past few years (i.e., how much people spent), and what percentage of that was imported. Just manufactured products, not raw materials. I have to believe that somebody out there, somewhere, is getting paid to keep track of this stuff.

Now, what I'm going to with the information? Haven't got a clue. Smile
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magicalaurie
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Didn't Americans used to buy American? Canadians, too? Or were all those brands I saw in elementary and high school always made in China? Smile And what ever happened to "made in Taiwan" ?
Starrpower
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When I was a kid all the cheap crap was made in Japan. That was so common that they made a joke about it in Back To the Future.
motown
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Yes, I would prefer to buy American made products where possible, even if they're more.
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I'm curious as to how much of stuff that is made in America is really made in America. If I buy, say, an American-made Fender guitar, is it truly 100% American-made? Every bolt, screw, wire, piece of wood, chemicals in the paint? Really? Maybe so, maybe not. But how much of a product--other than the brand--has to be American before it can be considered to be American-made?

It reminds me of the pre-war Gibson banjo I once saw for sale: the neck was not original, nor several of the nuts and bolts, nor the strings or head. Basically you would be buying a pot with an original tonering--the rest of the parts were modern replacement parts. They were asking over $100K--it being pre-war and all.

(For those of you who don't know how a banjo is made, an analogy would be to offer an original "Ferrari" consisting of an authentic chassis and engine, but with everything else being made in your local custom shop. It has the heart of a Ferrari, but the rest is a reproduction. Is it a Ferrari?)

So what does American-made even mean?
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