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American products can save money

May 30, 2010
By LARRY RINGLER Tribune Chronicle

Unemployment is down, shopping is up - and regardless of the calendar, the Memorial Day weekend says it's officially summer.

Life is good again.

At least compared to this time last year, when General Motors Corp. was heading into its government-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 1, both the GM Lordstown Complex and the Severstal Warren steel mill were shut down and a 16.5 percent jobless rate made Warren the state's worst city in which to find work.

Aside from a financial meltdown in Greece and a military showdown on the other side of the world in Korea, it's understandable if Americans feel they have some serious shopping ground to make up after last year.

That's where things get dicey.

Think of this as a reset, a do-over, a second chance to do it right.

It's hard to resist the excitement we feel from whipping out the checkbook or credit card to buy some bling-bling, the latest computer or gas grill.

There may be a way both to help corral our urge to splurge and do some long-lasting good for the country at the same time.

Only buy American-made products as much as possible.

This isn't a ''My American-made product - good or bad!'' type shill. I know if people only bought American, we'd be watching "Dancing with the Stars" on a 12-inch black-and-white TV set instead of a near-movie theater-size big screen.

Instead, the idea is to get ''the biggest bang for your buck,'' and at the same time, help workers who could be your neighbors - or yourself.

I took the first hesitant step on my own American-made journey last week when I researched work boots. True, I don't need steel-toed boots for writing on a computer, but work boots were all I could find.

The American boots cost $216, which seemed a bit expensive until I saw boots made overseas also costing $216.

This seems like a no-brainer to me. Buying the American-made boots means jobs for people in this country, people who will pay taxes for their schools and community, people who will go to a restaurant, movie theater or something else to provide work for other people.

Plus, I have to wonder about how greedy is the company selling the foreign-made boots for the same amount as American-made. The company probably isn't paying American wages and benefits. You'd think it could price its boots less than the American competition.

I'm advocating buying American, but not blindly. Don't buy the American product if it offers less, has a bad quality reputation or costs exorbitantly more than the foreign product.

If it's within a reasonable price of the foreign product, even 10 percent to 15 percent more, remember that extra money is going to keep someone working in this country and paying taxes, raising a family and supporting a school. It'll also save tax dollars by keeping people off unemployment, food stamps and other government programs that cost all of us tax dollars in the long run.

If anyone has a story how they decided to buy American instead of foreign, e-mail me about it. I know it's hard to find American products, but we have to start somewhere, sometime. We didn't get into this bind overnight; it'll take a lot of effort to get us out of it.

Remember, no blind buying just because it's American. It has to be a decision-making process that's feasible for the general consumer.

This is our second chance at being smart shoppers - let's not waste it.



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