Buying American: Why “Made in the USA” Trumps Corporate HQ Location
General Motors is headquartered in a glass office tower called the Renaissance Center, located in downtown Detroit. The distance from this building to the Canadian border is measured in feet rather than miles; you could walk to Windsor in minutes if not for the existence of the Detroit River. Because General Motors was founded in the United States, and because business operations have been based within U.S. borders for the company’s lifetime, most people think of GM as an American car company.
The reality is that GM is a global manufacturing company, based in Detroit, selling cars, trucks and SUVs on every continent save for Antarctica. In fact, GM sells more vehicles in China than it does in the U.S., making China the company’s biggest market.
Chrysler, based just up the freeway from GM in Auburn Hills, Michigan, has had quite the star-crossed history since Germany’s Daimler-Benz ingested it too rapidly and suffered a bad tummy ache afterwards. Daimler regurgitated Chrysler, which became a ward of New York City-based private investment firm Cerberus Capital Management and almost crashed and burned before Italy’s Fiat S.p.A. rescued it by purchasing a controlling interest in Chrysler. Today, Fiat owns a majority stake in the Pentastar. Yet, most people think of Chrysler as an American car company. Is it? Or is it Italian now, after having been German before?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BUY AMERICAN?
Of course, GM and Chrysler don’t go out of their way to point this out to American consumers, the people whose allegiance to flag and country often drives them to choose a Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Jeep, Lincoln, or Ram even if something better might be available from a different automaker. “Buy American,” such car buyers proclaim, without considering substance and context.
I agree with that sentiment. The time has come for Americans to buy American as often as possible. We must shore up our manufacturing base, provide jobs for skilled labor, boost small-town economic revenues, and restore the American dream in the process. We must stop outsourcing everything we do to squeeze every last penny of cost out of production, or we won’t know how to produce anything but welfare recipients in the future.
QUARTERLY CORPORATE PROFIT TARGETS COME AT A LONG-TERM PRICE
Yes, companies must be profitable. I’m not advocating that a business operate at a loss. But one firm I used to work for felt that nothing less than double-digit net operating income would represent success. When you’re a $1B annual business, is making $100M in profit, or more, really worth stripping Americans of jobs and eviscerating the economy in the process? Only to Wall Street, which measures everything in dramatically shortsighted quarterly performance objectives.
BUY AMERICAN: THE NEW DEFINITION
In the globally driven economic marketplace of the 21st Century, we must redefine what it means to buy American. In my opinion, buying American should mean that the purchased product or service is made in the United States, by people who pay federal taxes, which fund our military, support our social safety nets like Social Security and Medicare, and pay for our schools. These American workers also generate state and local tax revenues, providing budget for fire and police departments, and shop at their local businesses, which keeps even more of our fellow Americans employed.
Taking this position means I’m advocating the purchase of a vehicle built in the U.S.A., and constructed out of as many domestically sourced parts as possible. This information is easily found on the window sticker of whatever car, truck or SUV you intend to buy. So check those window stickers, people. Buy something from an automaker relying on U.S.-sourced parts and domestic assembly — even if that happens to be a Toyota Tundra instead of a Ford F-150. Collectively, our goal must to keep America working, and by extension, keep the American economy the strongest and most resilient in the world.
– Christian Wardlaw
Full Disclosure: The author owns two vehicles that were assembled in Japan in the mid-2000s, and lately is feeling very guilty about it.
The Disclaimer: The views expressed in this opinion column are solely those of the author, independent of Speedy Daddy or Double Yellow Media.