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lady shoppingI was recently having a discussion about unemployment in the U.S. and how it relates to the $500 billion annual U.S. trade deficit. That got me thinking: just how much do Americans spend per month on imported goods and services?  Well I did a few calculations, and what I found was shocking.

I divided the total value of imports in the U.S.A. for 2013 ($2.74 trillion) by the number of adults in the U.S.A. (240 million), then I divided that by 12 (for 12 months in a year).  On average, each U.S. adult is responsible for over $950 in imported goods and services per month!

That is much more than I thought was even possible.  Can you imagine that?  Every month, every U.S. adult is responsible for nearly $1,000 in imported goods and services.  We have really let ourselves go!

But here is something equally amazing.  If we could get the average U.S. adult down to just $790 of imported goods and services per month (that should be doable, right?), we would have no trade deficit at all.  The trade deficit may seem insurmountable, but when you consider how much we are currently importing, we really don’t have that far to go.

In fact, if we could simply replace 17% of the imports we consume each year with U.S.-made goods and services, we would have zero trade deficit, and that would pump enough money into the economy (nearly $500 billion per year) that everyone in the U.S. who wanted to work would be able to find a job.

If more Americans will start to just consider where products are made in their purchasing decisions, we may really start to see improvements.  Please consider taking 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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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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2011 Ford Explorer

Cars.com is misleading the American public again with their conceptually faulty “American-made Index” that was just recently published by the website for 2011 model cars. 

These rankings, which Cars.com promotes as the most American-made cars on the market, lists the Toyota Camry the #1 most American-made car for the second year in a row.  That distinction should have rightly gone to the Ford Explorer.  The Ford Explorer is made in Chicago, Illinois and has more domestic parts content than the Camry.  In fact, the Explorer has the highest domestic parts content of any vehicle currently in production  which is still being sold through 2011 .  That means it beats the Camry on this website’s list of most American-made vehicles.  (Point of Clarification: the Ford Sport Trac has 90 percent domestic content, but was discontinued after production of model year 2010 was complete; however, it is reportedly still being sold in Ford dealerships through calendar year 2011.)

Please don’t misunderstand me; I am extremely pleased that Toyota chooses to produce many of their automobiles in the U.S., thereby creating American jobs.  But putting the Camry on top of a rating called the “American-Made Index,” is simply wrong.

Not only is Cars.com is using questionable methodology to reach their conclusion, they do not publish the methodology they use in developing the rankings.  If these rankings are going to be cited all over the place and regarded by many to be the list of the most American-made cars, the methodology should absolutely be made public.

According to Cars.com, the three factors that were considered to create this American-made index were: country of final assembly, American-made parts content, and volume of sales.

Wait a minute! What does volume of sales have to do with anything?  If I’m going to use the “American-Made Index,” I am going to use it to buy a car that is going to be the most American-made per car. The Toyota Camry doesn’t move ahead of other cars with higher American-made parts content, like many cars produced by Ford and Chrysler because more Toyotas are sold. 

The Camry is made with 80% domestic parts content.  That’s not bad at all.  But there are several other American-made cars with higher American parts content that got skipped on this list.  These are the cars that should be making headlines for being the most American-made.  In fact, two cars with higher domestic parts content that got skipped on this list compete directly with the Camry and the Honda Accord (which Cars.com dubiously ranked second on their list). 

The Chrysler 200 Sedan (remember the “Imported From Detroit” Super Bowl commercial with Eminem) has more American-made content than either the Camry or the Accord.  So does the dodge Avenger Sedan. Both are made in Michigan.

I don’t know what Cars.com’s motivation is in creating this misleading index, but it is very counterproductive to efforts to increase consumer patriotism in this country.  Stories like these create consumer confusion, which causes many people to just give up on buying American altogether. 

If you have some time, please let Cars.com know that their index should leave sales volume out of their methodology.  They should also publish precisely how their rankings are determined. 

Here is the email address of Patrick Olsen, editor in chief at Cars.com: polsen@cars.com

American consumers could really benefit from an American-made index that doesn’t “cook the books” for certain cars.  To be acknowledged as most American-made car, you should have to actually be the most American-made car. 

Once again, here is the full list of vehicles and their domestic parts content as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Laws+&+Regulations/Part+583+American+Automobile+Labeling+Act+%28AALA%29+Reports

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

Randy

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Tonight, ABC World News with Dianne Sawyer is continuing its groundbreaking series called “Made in America.” The series is shedding some much-needed light on the importance of buying American-made products in order to create jobs in this country.

World News Tonight airs at 6:30 PM Eastern Standard Time.  Please make sure you don’t miss it.

Thank you, ABC World News, for this terrific series.

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

Randy

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I thought it would be a good time to highlight some expert opinion about the extreme importance of addressing the U.S. trade deficit.  I mean, who cares what Randy has to say?  Not many, believe me!  But how about Warren Buffett, a man generally regarded as one of the world’s most successful investors, and a man genuinely concerned with America’s future?

In 2003, Warren Buffet wrote a piece for Fortune Magazine called “America’s Growing Trade Deficit Is Selling The Nation Out From Under Us. Here’s A Way To Fix The Problem – And We Need to Do It Now.”  In this article, Buffett predicts all kinds of scary things for the future of our nation if we allow our enormous trade deficit to continue to expand (FYI, it has).  

In the article, Buffett describes the U.S. trade deficit this way: “In effect, our country has been behaving like an extraordinarily rich family that possesses an immense farm. In order to consume 4% more than we produce–that’s the trade deficit–we have, day by day, been both selling pieces of the farm and increasing the mortgage on what we still own.”

Better yet, I won’t summarize.  Here is the actual article:

America’s Growing Trade Deficit Is Selling The Nation Out From Under Us. Here’s A Way To Fix The Problem–And We Need To Do It Now.

By Warren E. Buffett

November 10, 2003

(FORTUNE Magazine) – I’m about to deliver a warning regarding the U.S. trade deficit and also suggest a remedy for the problem. But first I need to mention two reasons you might want to be skeptical about what I say. To begin, my forecasting record with respect to macroeconomics is far from inspiring. For example, over the past two decades I was excessively fearful of inflation. More to the point at hand, I started way back in 1987 to publicly worry about our mounting trade deficits–and, as you know, we’ve not only survived but also thrived. So on the trade front, score at least one “wolf” for me. Nevertheless, I am crying wolf again and this time backing it with Berkshire Hathaway’s money. Through the spring of 2002, I had lived nearly 72 years without purchasing a foreign currency. Since then Berkshire has made significant investments in–and today holds–several currencies. I won’t give you particulars; in fact, it is largely irrelevant which currencies they are. What does matter is the underlying point: To hold other currencies is to believe that the dollar will decline.

Both as an American and as an investor, I actually hope these commitments prove to be a mistake. Any profits Berkshire might make from currency trading would pale against the losses the company and our shareholders, in other aspects of their lives, would incur from a plunging dollar.

But as head of Berkshire Hathaway, I am in charge of investing its money in ways that make sense. And my reason for finally putting my money where my mouth has been so long is that our trade deficit has greatly worsened, to the point that our country’s “net worth,” so to speak, is now being transferred abroad at an alarming rate.

A perpetuation of this transfer will lead to major trouble. To understand why, take a wildly fanciful trip with me to two isolated, side-by-side islands of equal size, Squanderville and Thriftville. Land is the only capital asset on these islands, and their communities are primitive, needing only food and producing only food. Working eight hours a day, in fact, each inhabitant can produce enough food to sustain himself or herself. And for a long time that’s how things go along. On each island everybody works the prescribed eight hours a day, which means that each society is self-sufficient.

Eventually, though, the industrious citizens of Thriftville decide to do some serious saving and investing, and they start to work 16 hours a day. In this mode they continue to live off the food they produce in eight hours of work but begin exporting an equal amount to their one and only trading outlet, Squanderville.

To read the rest of this article (and I hope you will), click on this link: http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/growing.pdf

Our trade deficit is a serious problem that we need to do something about soon.  We can’t wait around for Washington to fix this problem because if they were going to take bold action to address this, they would have done something by now.  However, every one of us can do our part to address this problem by buying American.  Please consider taking 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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U.S. trade deficit balloons to $500 billion behind spike in U.S.-China trade gap.

Big news about the U.S. trade deficit was reported yesterday.  The Department of Commerce revealed that the U.S. trade deficit for goods and services was nearly $500 billion in 2010 – a 33% increase over the trade deficit for all of 2009.  Over half of that was due to a $273 billion trade deficit with China.  The United States has a job-stifling trade deficit that is growing, and growing fast!

The deficit is growing because as Americans are starting to increase their purchasing again after a thrifty 2009, they are buying imported goods more than ever before, often from countries like China.  In fact, the U.S. trade deficit with China in 2010 is by far the biggest trade deficit a country has ever had with another single country in history. 

The U.S. trade deficit is having a significant negative impact on job growth.  Experts estimate that every $1 billion in exports creates an additional 6,000 jobs in the U.S.  Yet, despite $163 billion more in U.S. exports in 2010 (which created almost 1 million new jobs), jobs still are not being created in sufficient numbers to get the economy going or increase employment largely due to offsetting increases in imported goods.  While increasing exports is a worthwhile goal, we cannot look for that to be the sole solution to our trade imbalance problems.  We need Americans to cut back our reliance on imports by buying American.

We can solve our country’s economic problem ourselves by changing our buying habits just slightly and buying American more often.

The average adult consumes $700 per month in imported goods.  If we could reduce that to $517 per person per month, we would have no trade deficit at all. With no trade deficit, we would likely have 3-4% unemployment.  All we need to do is reduce our consumption of imported goods 25% to have jobs again in this country.  That will secure our long-term economic future (a.k.a. our children’s future). 

Can you cut 25% of the imported goods you buy and replace them with American-made goods?  If you will do that, you will have done your part to set our country back on the path to economic security.

That is why I am buying American.  Please 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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California Supreme Court Building

On January 27, 2011, the Supreme Court of California issued a ruling that is a huge victory for buy American advocates everywhere.  In the case, Kwikset Corp. had falsely labeled locks that the company manufactured as “Made in U.S.A.”  In her ruling, Justice Kathryn Werdegar wrote what many of us already know and have been saying for years: “To some consumers, processes and places or origin matter…In particular, to some consumers, the ‘Made in U.S.A.’ label matters.”  She is absolutely right.  The Made in U.S.A. label does matter to millions of people.  And if the integrity of that label is ever lost, it could make buying American with any degree of confidence all but impossible. 

Roger Simmermaker, author of How Americans Can Buy American (a great book, which I suggest you purchase immediately if you are interested in the topic of buying American), authored this analysis of the ruling’s impact: 

California’s Kwikset lesson: Don’t lie about “American made”

By Roger Simmermaker

February 6, 2011

Back in October 2009, I wrote a “Buy American Mention of the Week” detailing the potential danger to the integrity of the “Made in U.S.A.” label, which depended heavily on a future California Supreme Court ruling concerning Kwikset Corp.

That future ruling is finally here, and Buy American advocates have won big! As of January 27, 2011, four Southern Californian residents were granted the right from the California Supreme Court to sue Kwikset for falsely labeling locks as “Made in U.S.A.”

Here’s a quick history about how the Kwikset issue became such an important case with national implications. Back in 2000, handyman James Benson claimed Kwikset was selling locksets as “Made in the USA” when they actually contained screws from Taiwan and were assembled partly in Mexico.

Black & Decker-owned Kwikset was found guilty by a trial court, which discovered that 25 of Kiwkset’s products were illegally labeled (Kwikset admitted that two others were illegally labeled). But a court of appeal overturned that judgment on the basis of Proposition 64 (passed in 2004), which says that a consumer or business would have to prove they suffered a “loss of money or property” as a result of false advertising.

Because businesses and consumers could not show (in the eyes of the court) that the lockset products had any less market value due to the false “Made in USA” advertising, the court claimed no injury occurred. Essentially, the Court of Appeal held that the ‘Made in USA’ label has no market value and therefore consumers do not lose anything when they buy products falsely labeled as “Made in U.S.A.”

In my October 2009 “Buy American Mention of the Week” article, I made a call for patriotic consumer activism, urging American consumers and business owners alike to write an amicus brief to be submitted to the California Supreme Court, as the case sat before the supreme court at that time.

Hundreds of responses from concerned American were received, and I passed those comments on to the lawyer handling the case. The issue was important to American consumers who wanted to protect their choice to buy American, American businesses that have to compete with companies that engage in unfair competition by falsely advertising their products as “Made in U.S.A.,” and American workers who would see more of their jobs outsourced if the “Made in U.S.A.” label is stripped of its meaning and unenforced.

Handyman James Benson and three other citizens said they were patriotically motivated back then to buy American-made goods and would not have purchased the Kwikset locks had they been aware that the locks were not actually made in the United States.

The California Supreme Court has now ruled the buyers (Benson and the others) did in fact suffer economic harm since the product’s value – in their eyes – was diminished, and they paid a higher price for the Kwikset locks than they normally would have if the locks had been correctly and accurately labeled.

In her ruling, Justice Kathryn Werdegar wrote what many of us already know and have been saying for years: “To some consumers, processes and places or origin matter…In particular, to some consumers, the ‘Made in U.S.A.’ label matters.”

Thanks to not only those who responded with their versions of an amicus brief to the court back in 2009, but also to all those who take the time and effort to seek out and buy American-made products, awareness of the importance of “Made in U.S.A.” is again on the rise in America.

“Made in America” makes America stronger, and reflects a sound national strategy that transcends the false belief that says cheaper is better.

I’m reminded of the words of Republican President William McKinley, who had a few things to say about the word “cheap.” He said, “I do not prize the word ‘cheap.’ It is not a badge of honor…it is a symbol of despair. Cheap prices make for cheap goods; cheap goods make for cheap men; and cheap men make for a cheap country!”

We clearly do not want a cheap country. We want a country with high standards and values, and high wages for American workers so they can afford to buy the products made in their own country by other fellow Americans. We need our nation to reflect the vision of the founders, who advocated and emphasized self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and independence. These American traditions and values are consistent with what motivates many of us to buy American, so we can create wealth and retain prosperity within our sovereign borders and America can remain forever sovereign and in control of her own destiny.

Thanks Roger!

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

Randy

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