Would you pay more for American-made toast?


Lunch box made by American Thermos Products Company

Waiting for the guys at Fred Meyer to load a kitchen dinette into my Chevy Blazer, I roamed the warehouse. Every box, from floor to ceiling, had been imported. Made in China.

Americans don’t make things any more. We pay other countries to make it for us.

Check your kitchen appliances. Your home furnishings—those pillows you got for nearly nothing at Target, the candle holders from Pier One, that funky lamp at Home Depot you couldn’t resist. The lawn mower, bird feeders—one candidate this week embarrassingly discovered the tee-shirts he’s hawking in his campaign are imported.

 Awkward.

It’s not our fault, really. We‘re Americans. We like a bargain. Who doesn’t? That’s why we shop at Wal-Mart, Target, and Shopko for coffee grinders, wide screen TVs, flip-flops and board shorts. All this stuff is cheaper than if it were made in American factories by American workers who rightly insist on fair wages and working conditions.

Still, I feel a little guilty, somewhat to blame for the state of the economy. Consider the current nine percent unemployment. Consider American manufacturing jobs are at their lowest levels since NBC first introduced the fanning peacock at the beginning of Bonanza and other TV shows aired in color (that we watched on an American-made TV).

From Flickr

Consider that China is considered the new economic super power.

If I had the capital—and the guts, I’d start up a company, in some city where factories have been shut down. I’d hire those laid-off people, and then we’d make stuff: toasters, coffee tables, board shorts. And then we’d challenge Americans to buy our stuff, even though it would probably cost more to cover wages, health and other benefits, union dues.

So tell me. Would you pay more for American-made products if you knew it helped the economy?

By the way, I checked. My new kitchen dinette? Made in Vietnam.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Would you pay more for American-made toast?

  1. It is ever increasingly difficult to find anything American made let alone 100% American. We, here at our home, go out of our way to buy only American, and at second best NOT made in China. We’ve adapted the buy North American approach as it atleast will broaden our choices of products.
    Just today a report hit about Coke investing 5 billion over in China. People are up in arms and crying boycott, traders & other nasty things. Yet the associated article was about Coke’s new fleet of Hybrid trucks, that are built here in North America, using American tech and providng jobs and stimulis for the economy.
    It’s only natural for buisnesses to go where the market is. This should be a glowing example that the market isn’t strong here in th U.S. anymore. That’s a shame. Some of society is working hard to buy made in U.S.A but yet folks complain when an american made case of coke is $10.00. I don’t get it.
    How do we fix what’s wrong??? It’s a hard thing to work out. Outsourcing, corporate greed and the government & it’s agencies have killed the “industrialized” America and made us a world consumer instead. Is the answer to pull up stakes…bring everyone and everything home and close our borders and worry about ourselves for a change, the right answer? Who knows…but what we are doing now isn’t working. Something needs to be changed. It’s hard to portray being a world superpower when we can’t even have the power at home to take care of our country.

  2. Chris Bolten

    GAHHHHHH! Vietnam…….. I try to buy American , but it is getting harder to find . The one thing that really gets me ??? During the 4 th of July i was going to buy a great looking shirt with old glory, yup! CHINA . I then went over to look at some of the flags for sale….GRRRRRR! CHINA!!!!! I had to walk out of the store!

    • Chris, we hear you. We walk out a lot of times as well. We’ve even moved our moral mandate to our food. We source local meat & vegetables and only go to major grocers when we can’t find what we need locally. Yes they provide jobs for local residents, but we’d rather pay a little more for quality, naturally raised beef & chickens then for the massed produced slop at the grocer’s meat counters.

  3. Kevin, darned good question. And, yes, I would and do. I just checked my new washer and dryer – Made in USA (Speed Queen), new stove, Made in USA (Viking). New flat screen TV? uh, it’s a Sony, so probably in Japan? Car? Made in USA (Subaru). New sewing machine? Janome – I think it’s made in USA, but might be Japan. Computer? It’s an iMac, and I haven’t a clue where it’s made, though I think it was assembled in China.
    I think most of my furniture was Made in USA – it is also old and either inherited (antique) or from garage sales. Not sure that garage sales help the US economy, except on a small scale, but better than nothing.
    Admittedly, if I am buying a ‘throw-away’ item, I don’t pay much attention to where it’s made/assembled, but if I’m sinking some money into it, I look for quality first, and where made second. I remember when American cars began to go downhill because the guys in Detroit had the attitude we’d buy whatever they chose to sell us, and they were very surprised when many of us began to buy German and Japanese vehicles because they were better made and got better gas mileage. The same with many appliances – their quality also went downhill, and many are no longer made in USA.
    When I was stationed in Germany back in 1967, I wanted to buy some German-made candles to ship home as Christmas gifts. They were all made in China!

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