What Does “Buy American” Really Mean?


In 2003 I bought a new Mitsubishi Diamante.  It was the first new foreign car I had ever  bought.  Prior that I had owned Fords and Chevys and one Pontiac Firebird.  I had bought into the idea of buy American long before it was a saying.  I believed in American made goods and always desired to support them.  Last summer I bought a 2012 Ford Fusion thinking I was again buying American.  Much to my surprise, and dismay, I later found out that my car was actually assembled in Mexico with its engine manufactured in Canada.  That really irritated me.  My “American” car was really Mexican.  Upon some more research I found out that most of the popular Toyotas, Hondas, and a few other Japanese manufacturers assemble their car in places like Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.  So that Toyota Camry has a better American pedigree than my Ford Fusion?

Then yesterday I discovered that Levi jeans are actually made in Japan.  Nothing that has the Levi name on it is made where it was founded.  And it does not end there.  New Balance shoes, founded in Boston, only produces 25% of their products in America.  I have known for a long time that most of the clothing we buy here in America is made overseas.  America used to lead the world in textile manufacturing, no more.  That is also true of steel, aircraft, electronics, and so much more.

I want to support the American worker still but I am at a loss to know what purchases are doing that.  My Ford Fusion supported Mexican workers, Canadian workers, and corporate Ford.  My Panasonic television was manufactured in Ohio and assembled in California.  It is confusing.

The Sears brand, Craftsman, are all made in the USA.  Dell computers are made in the USA but Apple’s “i” line are made in China, as is the Kindle and Android.  Intel and Motorola processors are made entirely in the United States but everything else is made overseas.

It seems that if you want to support the American worker you have to purchase items with foreign names many times.  How do I buy American?

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