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Archive for May, 2010

Okay, so you noticed that I recommended an iPhone application on this buy American blog. Isn’t that a contradiction? The iPhone is made in China.  But the Buy American Challenge is trying to bring a new approach to buying American, and no case demonstrates this new approach better than the iPhone.

Some would say that the iPhone is unpatriotic because it isn’t made in America.  But the Buy American Challenge does not bother labeling companies patriotic or unpatriotic.  This challenge simply encourages Americans to do their best to buy American-made items whenever possible because it helps our country when we do it.

The main reason I think that the iPhone is perfectly okay to buy is that it does not have an American-made competitor. Do I wish the iPhone was made in America? Yes. Would I buy another brand of smart phone if it was made in the U.S.? Absolutely. But unfortunately, no competitors to the iPhone that I know of (and I’ve looked) are made in the USA.

This leads us to another important principle in our new approach to buying American: You don’t have to deprive yourself.  If you can’t find a particular item you need that is American-made, that’s okay, it happens.  If you are willing to do a little more research, you can find other ways to help the American economy and help create American jobs with your purchasing even if the item you are buying is not actually made in the USA.

When I can’t find an American-made version of a particular item I need, here are some other criteria I like to consider: Is the company American-owned? Does the company have a record of creating American jobs?

This is where Apple actually stands out from the competition in my opinion.  Apple is an American-owned company, which means when it is profitable, it is mostly Americans who benefit.  The money that is earned is circulated into the U.S. economy, creating jobs here.  Apple also pays corporate income tax in the U.S., and every dollar the Treasury collects from them, they don’t have to collect from you and me.

Apple also has a good history of creating American jobs.  They currently employ over 34,000 employees, the majority of whom are American.  Have you seen those Apple stores popping up everywhere?  Those are American jobs they are creating.

For me, a smart phone is a modern day necessity.  I simply can’t go without one.  If I could find an American-made smart phone, I would buy it, but since I can’t, the iPhone is not a bad way to go.  Even though it’s not America-made, I still did the best I could to help the American economy and create American jobs with my purchase.  Sometimes that is the best you can hope to do.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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I recently downloaded a very useful iPhone application called “American Made,” by AgencyNet on my iPhone.  Simply search “American Made” in the app search area of your iPhone and it should be the first application that pops up. 

I have found this app extremely useful.  I use it almost every day. And for all those stingy app customers who won’t cough up 99-cents for a useful app, you’ll be happy to hear that this one is completely FREE.

As the app description reads, this app is dedicated to products that proudly bear the “Made in USA” label.  And I have to say, it does a great job of doing that.  You can search for American-made items by company name or by product category.  I have found the search by categories function to be the real asset of this application.

Select one of about 100 different product categories, and the application will give you a list of several different companies that produce American-made goods in that category.  From baby gear to sporting goods, this application has rarely failed to find an American-made version of a product for which I was looking.  In fact, I find this app turns up more thorough searches than most websites that provide similar services.

This app is also extremely useful because you have it with you when you are out and about.  Sometimes when you are out shopping, you wish you could have a computer with you so you could find American-made versions of the products you need.  With this app, you can find American-made brands in just a few seconds.  It’s really that easy.

If you have an iPhone, don’t hesitate to download this app.  It’s FREE!

Click here for more info on this app.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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Check out this recent article, An American-made Mother’s Day, which has some really great ideas for American-made gifts for mom.  Mother’s Day is just six days away, so if you are thinking about mail order gift ideas, you might want to jump on it soon.

This piece was written by Roger Simmermaker, author of How Americans Can Buy American: The Power of Consumer Patriotism, a book that many consider to be the buy American Bible.  In my opinion, this book is the most extensive and thorough on the topic that I have seen.  If you’re looking for more info on buying American, I recommend this book highly.

In this piece, Simmermaker recommends some high quality American-made skin care products, American-grown coffee straight from the fields Hawaii, an American-made aromatherapy candle, and an all natural American-made cuticle oil, just to name a few.

Check this piece out if you get a chance.  Maybe you’ll find a great American product you never knew was out there.  I strongly recommend the coffee.  Not only is Hawaiian coffee delicious, but it is a product that many of us consume quite a bit of.  If you’re a coffee drinker, you should at least give it a try.

Thanks for the suggestions, Roger.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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Wow! Watch the unemployment spread across the country like a cancer.  This video really says it all.

Randy

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…begins with the first step.  And today, the Buy American Challenge took a major step forward.  We now have two people fully embarked on the Buy American Challenge.  Sure, two might not sound like a lot, but it’s twice as many as we had yesterday.  I consider that progress we can build on.  Thanks Leanne, for being the first to step up and join me on this challenge!

We also got our first comments in response to a posting.  Judy, a personal trainer, wanted some buy American recommendations for supplements and protein drinks she could offer to her clients.  Check out the response in the comments under the “Take the Challenge!” tab by clicking here.

Speaking of steps, I took a step forward in my personal Buy American Challenge this week.  I made my first significant purchase since being on the challenge – I picked up a brand new pair of New Balance running shoes made in the USA (see picture above).  I can’t say for sure, but I think this is the first pair of American-made shoes I have owned in a long while. 

New Balance is one of the few major athletic shoe brands that still make shoes in the United States.  They don’t make all of them here, but they do still have five factories in operation, three in Maine and two more in Massachusetts. 

So I’m feeling pretty good about my purchase.  I picked these beauties up for just $35 at BJ’s Wholesale Club.  I tell you what, if they had another pair in my size, I would have grabbed two.  I love New Balance because they make really good quality running shoes, and at $35, that was the best deal I could have expected to find.  I usually pay twice that for running shoes.  I guess doing a little research is paying off.

Find some new balance running shoes for yourself on the American made section of their website by clicking here.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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Earlier this month, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a division of the Commerce Department, revealed that the U.S. international trade deficit for goods and services for the month of February 2010 was $39 billion.  In just one month, we lost $39 billion of American wealth to other countries, with a very large portion of it going to China.

The month of February was not abnormally bad in terms of a historical monthly trade deficit.  In fact, from 2005 to 2009, the U.S. averaged a monthly trade deficit of $54 billion. 

These figures are being cited to emphasize the enormous size of the problem we have to overcome.  While these numbers clearly demonstrate we have a problem, they also show that if we can turn things around by adjusting our buying habits, it would have a very meaningful impact on our trade deficit, and by extension, on the ability of our economy to create jobs.

Here’s how: In February, The U.S. imported $150 billion in goods from other countries.  If Americans were able to reduce their reliance on foreign imports by 20% (import only $120 billion in goods), which could be accomplished by American consumers showing loyalty to American-made goods, the trade deficit would fall from $39 billion to just $9 billion, a reduction of 77%. 

If Americans were able to reduce their reliance on foreign imports by 33% (import only $100 billion in goods), the $39 billion trade deficit would be turned into an $11 billion trade surplus.  Needless to say, circulating billion of dollars into the American economy by Americans demanding goods made in the USA would have a very positive impact on job creation.

What’s most important here is that just a relatively small adjustment in the percentage of imported goods Americans consume can have a major impact on the U.S. trade deficit.  Instead of hemorrhaging American jobs to the rest of the world, we can be investing in our own people and creating jobs in our own communities.

But we don’t have to reduce imports by 20% or more for buy American efforts to have an impact.  Every dollar we keep here is being circulated into our economy, and creating jobs for America.  What’s important is that each of us does his/her part.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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Now that I have begun the buy American challenge, I am realizing that I need to have some guidelines for how to go forward.  I want to go about this challenge faithfully, but at the same time, the decision to embark on this challenge is my own.  The Buy American Challenge applies only to my own personal purchase decisions, not those that impact others. 

The guidelines below allow for some key exceptions to the buy American rule.  This challenge is about doing everything possible to support the creation of American jobs by purchasing goods made in the U.S.A. whenever possible.  This challenge is not about being deprived of modern day necessities in order to stand behind a strict rule of buying only items made in U.S.A.  

The reality is that quite a few products simply aren’t made in the U.S.A., so allowing certain exceptions to the buy American rule is important.  I am going to buy American whenever it is possible, but I know going in that there will be times when it simply won’t be achievable.  The important thing is that a good-faith effort be made to buy American before deciding to buy a foreign-made good.

In creating these guidelines, my hope is that they will serve as a good model for anyone who might like to adopt a buy American lifestyle.  I should say that I don’t think these guidelines are complete.  I fully expect that they will evolve somewhat over time, but I think they will serve as a good base to get started.

Buy American Challenge Guidelines:

  1. Buy only American-made finished products or American-grown or -raised foods.
  2. Items you buy may have parts, materials, and content that is not American-made, -grown, or -raised.
  3. Items you buy may be made in America by foreign-owned or multinational corporations.
  4. This challenge applies only to one’s own personal purchase decisions, not those made for households, groups, businesses, associations, or for one’s profession.
  5. Embarking on this challenge should be done willingly.  No one should ever be obligated or forced into buying American-made.

Exceptions to the Buy American Challenge Guidelines:

  1. One, of course, may buy a specific foreign-made product if a doctor, dentist, or other medical expert prescribes or recommends it.  Example: If your dentist says you need a fancy foreign-made tooth brush, don’t worry about it, just get it.
  2. One may buy a specific foreign-made product if the item is simply not made, grown, or raised in the United States, and the item does not have a suitable replacement that is made, grown, or raised in the United States.  Example 1: A lot of electronics just aren’t made in the U.S.A. anymore.  If you can’t find what you want American-made, don’t worry about it.  Example 2: There is no such thing as an American-grown banana.  No worries, you can still eat them.  Example 3: There is no American-made “Champagne” because to be called Champagne it must have been produced in the Champagne region of France.  However, their are plenty of high quality American-made substitutes that are virtually identical to Champagne, but when they are made in America they are called “sparkling wine.”  This is the kind of item that is not the same, but does have a suitable replacement. 
  3. One may buy a specific foreign-made or -grown product if one is for some reason required to buy a specific item.  Example: If your professor assigns a specific foreign-made calculator to use for a class, don’t worry about it, just get it.
  4. One may buy a foreign-made item if it is urgently needed, and time or proximity preclude one from buying an American-made version of the item.  Example: You are really thirsty, and the only water available is bottled in France.  Don’t worry about it, just get it.
  5. If one has a kinship with another country other than the U.S.A., he or she should feel free to buy items made, grown, or raised in that country as well.  Example: Let’s say you have Irish heritage and like to buy things made in Ireland from time to time.  Go right ahead continue doing that.
  6. One is allowed five “cheat items” (or more if you really need more).  These are items that one may have an existing attachment to.  If you simply can’t live without a specific foreign-made good, you can continue to purchase it.  Example: Let’s say you just love Swiss chocolate.  You can, of course, continue to buy your chocolate as often as you would like. 

I will get into my rationale for these guidelines and exceptions in future postings, but this is enough for now.  Please let me know your thoughts on these guidelines. 

Please consider taking the Buy American Challenge.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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