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Posts Tagged ‘trade deficit’

In all the hoopla surrounding the Republican presidential primaries, the release of President Obama’s 2013 budget, the Grammy’s, and the tragic passing of Whitney Houston, a truly significant report about America’s relentlessly growing trade deficit has been given very little media attention and is in danger of going unnoticed by the American public.

On Friday, February 10th, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that the U.S. trade deficit for goods and services was $558 billion in 2011, a 12% increase over the trade deficit for all of 2010.  Over half of the U.S. trade deficit (53%) was due to a $295.5 billion trade deficit with China, a staggering sum which stands as the largest trade deficit between two countries in history. (full report)

As our country’s job-stifling trade deficit continues to expand rapidly, and our inability to get it under control is without a doubt undermining our economic recovery.

Let’s look a little closer at why the trade deficit grew in 2011.  U.S. exports experienced strong growth in 2011.  Exports increased by $265 billion for the year, an 11.4% increase over 2010.  However, these strong gains were more than offset by $324 billion increase in imports, a 13.8% increase over the previous year.

What does this mean? Even though we are making significant gains by increasing exports, which is creating jobs, we are simultaneously costing ourselves jobs by continuing to increase our consumption of imported goods. 

While some of the simultaneous increases of imports and exports are due to imported materials being used to make goods in the U.S. for export, the vast majority of our trade deficit is due to the trade imbalance we incur in consumer goods and automobiles. 

In 2011, the U.S. imported $768 billion worth of consumer goods and automobiles.  However, we exported just $309 billion in these same categories.  Overall, the U.S. experienced a $459 billion trade deficit in consumer goods and automobiles, which accounted for 82% of the overall U.S. trade deficit for 2011.

What does that mean for American consumers?  It means we have the power to control our collective economic destiny by adjusting our consumer behavior.  If enough of us will commit to buying American, we have it within our power to eliminate the U.S. trade deficit, which will keep more than a half-trillion dollars circulating in our economy, and will create jobs – probably millions of jobs – here in America.

That is why I am buying American.  I am determined to do my part to get our country back to prosperity.  Will you join me?  Take the Buy American Challenge today!

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

Randy

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Two years ago I made a New Year’s resolution.  I had been thinking about the high rate of unemployment in this country and how our economic troubles are made so much worse by the enormous number of goods we import each year.  We would be so much better off if we created jobs by making those goods here in America.  We just need more Americans to demand goods made in the USA.

So I said to myself, I might not be able to change the way Americans shop, but I can certainly change the way I shop, and I refuse to continue to contribute to a problem that is causing so much economic pain for so many. From now on I’m buying American!

That was the New Year’s resolution I made to myself two years ago.  I originally set out to do it for one year, but once I completed the first year, I didn’t even consider stopping there. I found out that once you buy American for a few months it becomes second nature.

While this experience hasn’t been easy, it has been very rewarding.  I feel good knowing I am doing my part to create jobs when I buy the things I need.  From shoes, to clothes, to furniture, to cars, practically everything I buy is made in USA.  Those purchases are creating jobs in Virginia where I live and in places across the country.  Looking back, deciding to buy American is one of the best decisions I have made.  I do not regret it at all.

My New Year’s resolution this year is to make a concerted effort to get more people to commit to buying American.  I know there are millions of Americans that are willing to do it.  We just need to find those people and ask them to join our growing buy American movement.  If we get enough people to do it, we can make a real difference by creating jobs at a time that so many Americans need work.

I may have already asked you in the past, but if you are reading this I am asking you again right now.

Please consider taking the buy American challenge.  Buying American is the one thing you can do every day to help create jobs for Americans.  What better time to begin than at the start of a new year?

If you will do it, you will be doing your part to get our country back on the right track.

Commit to buying American this New Year.  It is a resolution you won’t regret making.

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

Randy

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(This is a repost from an article I wrote several months back, but since Christmas is around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to repost it.)

Buying American when gift-giving presents an interesting dilemma.  A person may be passionate about buying American when purchasing items for their own use, but how does that apply when buying gifts for others?

I have been in this place many times in the last year, and my advice is to use your best judgment and err on the side of buying gifts that the gift-recipient(s) will actually enjoy above gifts you might buy because they are made in the U.S.A. 

The guidelines of the Buy American Challenge say that buying American only applies to you.  It does not apply to friends and family you might be buying gifts for.  So, if your nephew asks for certain pair of imported sneakers for his birthday, just get them and don’t even worry about it.  Refusing to buy gifts that are not made in the U.S.A. has the potential to anger people who do not particularly care where the things they want are made.  Although I do not share that point of view, I respect people who have it, even if they are a brother, daughter, or significant other.

This changes when the gifts are intended for you.  If you would only buy goods made in the U.S.A. for yourself, why shouldn’t you ask the same of people buying gifts for you?  When I have a birthday coming up, and I know people will be shopping for me, I always circulate a list (electronic list with links) of American-made things I would like to receive as gifts.  Not only does this make things much easier for friends and family buying gifts for you, but it also ensures you will get the American-made things you really want.  It also allows you to price-shop online ahead of time to save those buying gifts for you some cash.  Most importantly, it is a great opportunity to educate the people in your life about all the great things that are made in the U.S.A.  In my experience, people are generally happy to buy gifts that you have suggested for them to buy, and they are generally pleasantly surprised at all the high-quality, reasonably-priced, American-made things on the list. 

Actually, regardless of whether you buy American or not, I suggest sending gift wish-lists out. Putting out a list of potential gifts is a win-win for everyone.  Nobody likes to wander through the mall, picking things up, and trying to find something you think a person might like.  A list takes all the guesswork out of it.  Just be sure that it is clear your list is of options for potential gifts, and not a list of all the things you expect to get for the occasion.   My first list I sent to my family raised eyebrows when they thought I expected to get every gift on the list, and I had listed about 20 things listed. 

One important thing to keep in mind is that American-made goods sometimes cost more than imported goods.  You may have received a $30 pair of jeans in years past from a certain person.  If you send them a list of American-made gifts, make sure the list consists of items in the $30 price-range.  Don’t send them a link to $100 American-made jeans and expect them to buy those for you.  By the way, this is just an example of the kind of predicament you might discover.  In fact, American-made jeans can be found for $30.  Here is a link to beautiful pair from a great company called All American Clothing: http://www.allamericanclothing.com/products/AA301.html

One time you should go ahead and buy a gift made in the U.S.A. for someone else is when no specific gift has been requested and you are reasonably sure that an American-made gift will be liked just as much as an imported good.  I don’t think my dad particularly cares what brand of jeans he gets as a gift.  So if I know he wants jeans, I would absolutely buy a pair of American-made jeans for him.  This is another great opportunity to show those around you what great American-made products there are available.  Maybe some of these gifts will turn into brand loyalty and/or increased interest in buying American.  Don’t miss the opportunity to give American-made gifts when the chance presents itself.

Here is one final thought on buying American with regard to friends and family.  Sometimes those close to me buy imported things that they are very excited about, especially if they spent a good deal of money on the item, like a fancy jacket or watch.  When this happens, I make it a point to show exactly the same enthusiasm I would have shown if I didn’t care about buying American.  Remember, buying American only applies to you.  That means not judging others when they get things they want.  Show those around you the respect of sharing in their excitement as you would if buying American was not a priority of yours.  It will be appreciated. 

I hope you will find this gift-giving advice useful.  I would love to hear what you all think about these guidelines for American-made gift-giving.  Have you ever been in one of these gift-giving scenarios?  What did you choose to do?  Were you pleased with your choice afterward?

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

Randy

P.S. If you are looking for a great American made clothing brand, check out Made in USA Threads!

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You can’t have an effective buy American movement if the movement is not visible.  With this brand of clothing, Made in USA Threads, now it can be.

I’ve been advocating the buy American movement for over a year and a half now.  One thing I have been frustrated with is the lack of visibility the movement has.  Livestrong has those yellow bracelets you see everywhere.  The breast cancer group has pink ribbons on everything from neckties to linebackers.  But where is the visibility of the buy American movement? 

I’ve spent the last several months building this brand so that finally the buy American movement can have the visibility it needs to thrive.  This brand is about quality American-made clothing at reasonable prices, and it says “Made in USA” right on the chest where everyone can see it.

Let me ask you, what does the logo on your shirt stand for?  If you own a polo shirt, what does that little man on horse carrying a polo stick, or practically any other widely recognizable garment industry brand image, really stand for?

To me, it is a symbol of a clothing industry that once thrived in America that has now been outsourced to the lowest bidder in a global race to the bottom.  It is a symbol of the underlying cause of a $500 billion annual trade deficit the U.S. incurs each year and the 9%-plus unemployment rate that comes with that enormous trade deficit.

I, personally, don’t care to wear that kind of symbol on the clothing I wear every day.  I prefer to wear a shirt that says “Made in USA” on it!

What does that stand for?  It stands for American jobs.  It stands for investing in the future of our country and our communities.  It stands for turning around a disturbing outsourcing trend that has slowly chiseled away at the foundation of our economy for decades.  Finally, it stands for protecting the few remaining garment manufacturers left in this country before they too become the victim of outsourcing. 

Made in USA Threads is a brand that is made in USA and is proud to show it.   When I wear these clothes, I wear them proudly.  So can you!

Visit www.MadeinUSAThreads.com today. 

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

Randy

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If there’s one thing Americans do very well it’s consume. We like shopping.  We like going to the mall or Target and coming home with whatever our hearts desire, regardless of where it was made. Although this kind of buying behavior can be damaging to our economy and our country, changing this behavior is easier said than done.

In the last year and a half of actively living and advocating a buy American lifestyle, I have learned a lot about what to do, and what not to do, in persuading those around me, like friends and family, to buy American.  Here are a few key tips:

1)  Never make others feel guilty about their current buying habits.  Whether it’s friends, family, coworkers, or anyone else, the key is to talk about the reasons you buy American with no judgment on others who currently don’t. Others will be much more receptive to the concept of buying American when using this approach.

2)  Be as committed as possible to buying American yourself.  When those around you see that you are genuinely committed to buying American they will begin to take the idea more seriously.  Few will be moved to consider a commitment to buying American if they think your commitment to buying American is a passing fad.  It’s got to be perceived as permanent to have an impact on those around you.

3) Blog, tweet, or make Facebook posts about buy American topics.  Social media are great tools to put out useful information about the topic of buying American.  These messages can reinforce other messages your friends and family are already hearing about buying American.  It is also a no-judgment way to talk about the personal and societal benefits of buying American.  The buy American movement depends on effective communication, and new media, like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, are the key to effective communication today and for the foreseeable future. Embrace these tools.

4) Let others bring up the topic of buying American with you.  When I first started strictly buying American and blogging about it, I told all my friends and family about what I was doing.  I asked them to follow my blog, follow my tweets, become a Facebook fan of Buy American Challenge, and that sort of thing.  After that, I backed off on bringing the topic of buying American up for discussion.  I found that friends and family started asking me about buying American instead of me having to bring it up with them.  If you want buying American to spread, my advice is let people know why you are buying American initially, then back off.  However, continue to keep the topic visible if you can.  I drive an American car, wear Made in USA clothing, and blog about buying American regularly.  Those who want to talk about buying American know they can bring it up with me anytime, and they frequently do.

5) Be a resource for those who have questions about buying American.  When folks first start to think about buying American, they have lots of questions.  Where can they find American-made products they need?  What about products not found made in USA anymore?  What about imported products they just can’t even think about giving up?  A good place to start in addressing these concerns is to give people the guidelines of the Buy American Challenge.  This is an easy-to-follow buy American program that anyone can follow.  I suggest printing out a copy and giving it to people who are showing interest as a suggestion of where to start if they decide to give buying American a try.  Additionally, offer to be available for advice on hard-to-find items.  If you ever get stumped, and can’t find a particular item made in USA, contact me and I’ll help you out.  Believe it or not, almost all products can still be found made in USA, you just need to know where and how to look for them.

Follow these five tips and you will be well on your way to spreading buy American through your social network.  Remember, for buying American to have a really meaningful impact on job creation in this country, we need to grow the movement. One person’s decision to buy American, though admirable for the principle of it, doesn’t mean much in terms of job creation.  It’s not going to create millions of jobs like we want it to.  But when thousands or even millions of people start demanding American-made products it will have a major impact on job creation. 

If you are committed to buying American yourself, commit to doing what you can to grow the movement as well.

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

Randy

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I have tremendous respect for everyone in the buy American community.  Anyone willing to spend time promoting the practice of buying made in USA out of a hope for a better future of our country is aces in my book.  I only wish we had more people willing to take the charge. But as buy American advocates, we need to be very cautious not to let the ugliness of politics seep into – and frankly, infect – our buy American message.  Because every time it happens, another person who would be a new buy American advocate gets alienated.

Let’s face it, Americans are passionate about politics, and while 10-20% percent of Americans may be on the fence on Election Day, the other 80% are pretty firmly entrenched in one camp or the other.  Those that do have strong political leanings generally do not like to hear or read about the political leaders and organizations they support being spoken about in a negative light.  Nor do they typically like to hear about the leaders and groups they do not agree with spoken about in a favorable light (although favorable discussion of any kind is more tolerable).  Discussing politics in any capacity simply has the potential to rub a lot of people the wrong way.  It is unavoidable.

That is precisely why it is best not to mix messages about politics and buying American.  The buy American message resonates with people of all different backgrounds and persuasions.  Individual Americans choosing to buy American is not a Republican or Democratic issue; it’s an American issue.  Buying American creates jobs and helps our economy.  Anybody should be able to agree with that, and the overwhelming majority of Americans do.  So why mix that buy American message that so many are receptive to with a political message that is certain to alienate many? If you genuinely want the buy American message to carry through, it’s just not a good idea to mix messages.

I believe one major reason that politics and buy American messages often get intertwined is that those who are passionate about buying American also tend to be fervent about politics, so it’s only natural for messages about the two subjects to get interconnected.  Once again, I believe one must make every effort to keep these the two separate.  The buy American movement needs to grow if it is ever going to be the force in this country that it could be.  As advocates, we cannot afford to be turning away support because of politics creeping into our message.

Let me make one thing clear: I am not saying that buy American advocates should avoid being vocal about politics.  Far from it.  What I am saying is that as a buy American advocate, you should do your best not to mix political and buy American messages at the same time or in the same venue.  What does that mean in practice? If you have a blog, website, or facebook page about buying American, don’t post political messages on there, and do your best to keep the political messages others post there to a minimum.  Try to be sensitive to the fact that your buy American supporters may lean opposite you politically.  If you want to talk politics, do it on a personal facebook page or on a separate blog.  You get the picture. 

My interest is the success of the buy American movement.  We only have so many real leaders out there, and we will all have more success if we can stay focused on communicating our buy American message free of politics. 

In a time of incredible political division in this country, buying American is one thing that still genuinely unites people of all different backgrounds and beliefs.  Whether you identify as a Tea Partier or a labor activist, there is a good chance you support buying American.  You’d be hard-pressed to find an area where you’ll find more common ground among staunchly opposed political groups and individuals. 

The truth is, when it comes to buying American, politics doesn’t matter, so let’s not let it get in the way.  Politics has ruined enough in this country; let’s not let it ruin our buy American movement as well.

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

Randy

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Last week, Julie Seedorf, a columnist with the Albert Lea Tribune in Minnesota wrote a column called “Support Businesses that Support USA.”  In her column, Seedorf referenced a number of plant closings that have occurred recently in southeastern Minnesota due to off-shoring, and called on the members of her community to buy American instead of resigning to the apathetic conclusion that each of us is powerless to keep jobs here in the U.S.A. 

“Let’s join together as Americans and make a commitment to our American workers,” says Seedorf. 

Read the entire column here: http://www.albertleatribune.com/2011/03/14/support-businesses-that-support-usa/

The specific recommendation Seedorf makes to her community is to go to the Buy American Challenge blog and take the Buy American Challenge.

“I found a blog by Randy in Arlington, VA. It is called buyamericanchallenge,” says Seedorf.  “He is challenging all of us to buy ‘Made in the USA’ products. I am going to join his challenge… I believe if we stick together and support our workers we can effect a change. Take the challenge. Challenge your friends and neighbors to do the same. And don’t give up. If it doesn’t work in a year, keep it going for two, three, four or however long it takes…”

Seedorf is right.  We can make a difference and keep Americans employed if we will make a commitment to buy more things that are made in the U.S.A.  It might take a few years, but if we will each make a personal commitment to do it, and be willing talk about it with those who are closest to us, we can put millions of Americans back to work and lead our country back to prosperity. 

Thank you, Julie, for challenging your community to take the Buy American Challenge, and thank you for walking-the-walk and taking the Buy American Challenge yourself.

We need more people like you willing to challenge people to make this important life change.

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

Randy

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