Last Thursday, President Obama outlined his plan to put Americans back to work. Regardless of political affiliation or predisposition, there is one subject on which most Americans agree. We need to get Americans back to work. This Thursday, we can all do something to help achieve this objective.
My idea won’t cost the U.S. government one single dollar and it won’t require any sacrifice on the part of Americans. It doesn’t require an act of Congress or approval from any government body. All we have to do is to individually and collectively declare the fifteenth of each month “Buy American Made” Day (BAM Day).
It is a very simple concept. In the grass-roots tradition of our wonderful country, we can declare BAM Day into being by urging everyone we know to buy only U.S.-made products on September 15. It is easy to do. Every product we buy has a label of origin. Sometimes the labels are hard to find, so on September 15, if you can’t find a label, don’t buy it.
Here is the great part, BAM Day is a positive act. It is a stimulus for American-made products rather than a demonstration against foreign-made products. If you absolutely must have those grapes grown in Chile or that telephone set made in China, no problem, you can buy those products one day before or one day after the BAM Day.
Here is what eventually could happen if we can get enough people to participate in this effort. Merchants will recognize that buying patterns on the fifteenth of the month are different than any other day. They may even start stocking more U.S.-made items to meet changing demands, which means those products will be on the shelves the rest of the month for us to choose if we wish. Merchants may even start BAM Day promotions.
As a boy, the “Buy American” slogan was very popular. Then it became fashionable to buy anything but American-made products. Some people say U.S.-made products are inferior or too expensive, but whenever I have shopped I have found that U.S.-made products, when available, are highly competitive for price and quality.
Given the globalization of industry and the sensitivity of tariffs, this is a concept that cannot be advanced by large corporations, labor unions or government agencies. It can only come from us.
There was an old joke that was legendary in the 1970s. It was about a well-established dog food company with new leaders who wanted to increase market share. The new managers reformulated the product, developed a new name, re-designed the label and embarked on an expensive ad campaign, but sales dropped through the floor. After thorough examination, the cause of this decline could not be identified. Finally, during a leadership visit, a long-term low-level employee in the test kitchen was asked if he could tell why the product was being rejected. He looked at the assembled executives and said, “The dogs just won’t eat this stuff!”
The same applies to us. If we won’t eat it, they can’t sell it.
Henry Bassman has lived in Summit, NJ for close to 40 years. He has been married for more than 40 years and has three daughters who graduated from Summit High School. Henry retired from AT&T where he wrote about high-technology science and engineering. He now is affiliated with a small investment bank that specializes in biotechnology, medical devices and healthcare issues, about which he often writes. Articles by Henry can be seen on ABCNews.com and other business Web sites.