The Black Friday Challenge: Buy One American-Made Item

Posted by spaul on 11/21/2012

An op-ed by Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) Executive Director Scott Paul...

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American tradition. We (over)eat food that is mostly grown or raised here, share time--sometimes a little too much--with family and friends, and reflect on the things for which we are the most thankful--like NFL football games and the fact that political ads have now vanished from the airwaves.

The day after Thanksgiving, "Black Friday," is also an American tradition, albeit a more recent one. Shoppers sometimes maim and maul each other to find bargains at big box stores and shopping malls. It's ugly. And in a way, it represents the very worst of America.

Black Friday is also the most visible symptom of what's really dragging down our middle class: we consume too much from overseas, and we don't produce enough here to make up the difference. That burdens us with debt, and leaves us fewer options for jobs.

There is a solution, and it may sound quaint, but it's never been truer than it is today: this Black Friday, Buy American.

We know the concept is politically popular: the American factory was the most ubiquitous non-human feature of political advertising in 2012. In fact, 87 percent of voters support a preference for American-made products when the government is building infrastructure or buying goods and services. A strong majority of Americans believe the quality of American manufacturing is on the rise. Americans have warm feelings towards American-made products, and decidedly negative views of "Made in China."

But that doesn't stop us from buying those electronic gadgets, smartphones, plastic toys, and clothes all made in China. I'm not here to point fingers at why we got where we are today--big box stores, China, outsourcers, bad policy, etc. Believe me, there is plenty of blame to be shared.

I'm asking you to do one simple thing on Black Friday: buy just one American-made product.

There are plenty of options, even in shopping malls. And there are scores of options online. But you'll have to do a bit of research either way, and you'll have to look for items other than electronic gadgets, smartphones, or the latest fad toys.

There are options for hipsters, locavores, organizers, preppies, fashionistas, interior designers, jocks, and kids-- we've got the entire Breakfast Club covered, and then some. And there are countless resources to help get you started. We have many of them here.

Buying American sends important signals to the folks who have helped ruin our economy. To the outsourcers, it says "bring those jobs back." To Capitol Hill, it says "if you can't pass a jobs bill, we'll take matters into our own hands." To retailers, it says "we prefer American-made products." Those signals, taken alone, won't bring Made in America all the way back--but we'll be headed in the right direction.

Some advice: don't try to be pure. It's virtually impossible. And it will drive you crazy. Sometimes, the choice just doesn't exist. But, we can all do better. And we must. Our middle class depends on it. And so does our collective future.

Black Friday can be a force for progress if we paint it red, white, and blue. Can we count on you?

1 comment

Anonymous wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Buy American

Before you buy, check http://www.stillmadeinusa.com to find who in the USA makes that which you seek.

Related recent Blogs

@KeepitMadeinUSA on Twitter

  • The U.S. is competing without a manufacturing strategy, and the trade numbers show we’re getting our butts kicked. http://t.co/mtxfMmXMkq 9 hours 10 sec ago
  • So much for that "rising star" thing. http://t.co/mtxfMmXMkq 9 hours 44 min ago
  • What made @papergirlmacy cry while working on the book Factory Man? @NewsHour has the answer: http://t.co/R56dMJNgeF 10 hours 40 min ago
  • Love this! College's new mobile manufacturing training lab provides on-demand training in advanced manufacturing: http://t.co/hGsSIwqgKa 11 hours 46 min ago
  • "We were going to compete, and remain an American manufacturer, and from that time on, we never looked back." http://t.co/3PuYpsFqT9 12 hours 31 min ago
  • More buzz for Factory Man, this time from @NewsHour. "It’s the largest employer in town. But it wasn’t & isn’t easy." http://t.co/3PuYpsFqT9 13 hours 22 min ago
  • @RossiMachServ How wonderful! We'd love that. 13 hours 25 min ago
  • The U.S. might be a "rising star" in manufacturing, but there's still a lot of work left: http://t.co/b6c8JbKyEX 1 day 6 hours ago
  • If the United States wants to maintain its "rising star" manufacturing status, it must do a few key things: http://t.co/yVBTFyywYF 1 day 9 hours ago
  • That's right: the U.S. is a "rising star" in manufacturing. But there's more to do to increase our competitiveness: http://t.co/yVBTFyywYF 1 day 11 hours ago