Monday, December 01, 2008

A Producer Economy

I have been reading as many advisories as I can on how we need to proceed to restore our economy. There seems to be consensus that a jobs plan, one rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, is needed. There certainly agreement on economic reform. Other means seem to have less of a solid consensus, but there is one thing I have not seen suggested by even one single pundit, economist or legislator.

Not one time have I seen it suggested that we even attempt to return this nation to being a producer nation instead of a consumer nation. Not one place have I seen a suggestion that we need to recreate the industries, other than automobile, that manufacture the things that American consumers buy.

In the political campaigns there was rhetoric about “exporting jobs” and “shipping jobs overseas.” That rhetoric didn’t include any specifics about bringing back the jobs that had already been exported. In all of the current discussions about the economic recovery, however, the discussion of manufacturing jobs, other than auto, has been noticeable by its absence.

Not that there is inherent superior value to things that are made in this country, but there is value in having the jobs that manufacturing in this country can provide. Buying does not provide jobs; manufacturing provides jobs as well as products that Americans buy.

So that when I buy a toy for my kid it says, “Made in USA.”

So that when I buy a television it says, “Made in USA.”

So that when I buy a part for my car, not the car itself, but a starter, or a windshield wiper it says, “Made in USA.”

So that when I put on my shirt in the morning it says, “Made in USA.”

Maybe restoring our producer economy cannot be done. Maybe the foreign competition has labor costs that we cannot meet. Maybe we are not innovative enough, or smart enough, or we just don’t care enough to overcome that deficit. But we are not even trying. No one is even suggesting that we try. It seems sufficient that we manufacture automobiles from imported parts, and that we import everything else.

It used to be that “third world” countries were considered inferior because they could not manufacture, and they had to import manufactured goods from us. Now those same countries are providing the manufactured goods that we are importing. We don’t seem to feel that makes us inferior.

I don’t think we are inferior. I think we can be a producing nation, or at least I don’t know why we can’t. I don’t understand why we are not making the effort.

There’s something uncomfortable about being a “nation of consumers.”


  1. Seriously? When is this "So that when I buy a toy for my kid it says, “Made in USA.”" going to happen?

  2. Anonymous3:39 PM

    Thanks for a well written opinion. I agree and I'm working hard to get people to see how important American manufacturing is. I am the editor of a website that is all about encouraging people to buy "Made In USA".

    Please help spread the word:

    We have a weekly giveaway of an American made product.

  3. Well said, Bill! Until all American consumers start to make a conscious effort to buy American-made goods and cause a demand for American-made goods, manufacturers will continue to take production overseas, keeping American workers from having decent paying manufacturing jobs. Not everyone can work in the service sector.

    And for Barbara B. - a great source of American-made toys for your kids can be found at (

  4. Anonymous10:38 PM

    We used to be the nation that developed the product, and others made a business out of making it a consumer product. Maybe they did make it cheaper.

    when consumers can see past the bottom line of the cheapest item out there, and look for "made in USA" then we can make some effort.

    I'd like to see that.