Buy American: Simple, effective

Editorial from The Bennington Banner During every recession since 1980, the call has gone out to buy American products, rather than imported goods, as a way to chop down our chronic trade deficit and save American jobs. Guess what: That movement is back stronger than ever, and this time, it seems millions of consumers are finally taking the message seriously. That's a good thing. It is estimated that every 1 percent shift in purchases toward products made here could add -- or preserve -- 200,000 U.S. jobs. In order to climb back into prosperity, we must create millions of new jobs to replace the millions lost since 2009. And because this is the deepest recession since the Great Depression, more Americans seem willing to at least check product labels of origin and ask a few questions. Buying American is no longer taken as a cornball slogan for unsophisticated types: Middle class and upper-income citizens often are on-board as well; and in truth, they're in a better position to purchase U.S. goods even when they are more costly. Not every purchase can or should involve an American-made product, and not every product line has a wide selection from U.S. manufacturers -- electronics is a sector that jumps to mind. But much of this may be a result of years of companies routinely shipping those plants and manufacturing jobs overseas. Companies need financial, as well as patriotic reasons to bring at least some of that manufacturing back to the U.S. a recent ABC News series illustrated, an equivalent product -- as well as a competitive price -- can be found from American sources if a consumer spends a little time looking. And the Internet has now made that easy. Google "American made" or a similar phrase, and there are numerous sources of information on costs, products and locations. Although some products are manufactured in part at various locations, many are substantially produced here by companies based here, and that information also is readily available. Beyond altering our no-thought buying practices, Americans can pressure stores and retail companies to carry more American goods, rather than just find the cheapest supplier in the country with the lowest wages and worst work place conditions. And often enough, the least environmental friendly and safety-conscious -- both in terms of worker safety and product safety. As an example, think of cadmium in your kids' toys and knock-off vitamin supplements or drugs with inferior or non-existent medicinal ingredients, or outright hazardous substances. And ponder whether that buck you might have saved is worth it in the long run. Political pressure also can force change. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders this week announced that the Smithsonian Institution has committed to selling only American-made products at a gift shop in the National Museum of American History in Washington, and to seek more American suppliers for the merchandise. If need be, the Vermont senator said, he will introduce legislation that would require all taxpayer-supported museums to sell more merchandise made in America. Senator Sanders said he first began to question the merchandise at the history museum after becoming aware that souvenir busts of presidents Washington and Obama sold there were "crafted in China." We should all have such an epiphany. It shouldn't be difficult. Just look for the labels and prepare yourself for shocks. Read original editorial here