MADE IN AMERICA | Part IV
Imagine a little house full of the sounds of home. Think of mom baking a cake in the kitchen, or little Bobby and tiny Sue running through the white picket-fenced yard. The American Dream, well the nuclear family, but since the nuclear family age—the two have become synonymous. There are a few values that have always been key to the success of the American Dream’s existence. As far back as the frontiers days of this nation’s foundation every American has required life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. However, with the shift in industry and the increased consumption of import over domestic, this American Dream is finally, truthfully endangered.
Many have heard that the family unit is the cornerstone of our society. Unfortunately not many people realize how much the family unit also affects our economy. The lessons we teach our children aren’t limited to the classroom or to morality. We teach our children every day about making wise decisions but sometimes forget that we can also teach them a little about the economy and ensure their future’s economy is just as bright.
The modern American family doesn’t necessarily look at the production of a product as a key factor in their decision to buy it. Sure, they consider calorie value or fat content of a Twinkie before buying them for their child, but do they consider that clothing they buy for them can feed another local family or support a community reliant on the production of American-made goods? The answer is most likely rarely. However, the growing attention to what we are eating has also sparked a revival in care about what we are wearing, as a society.
The American consumer has been taught that everyday low prices are the basis for a smart economical budget for their families. While this might be true canned food, we need to remember that everyday low prices here are generally the product of everyday cheap labor somewhere else. The American family can only protect their right to the American Dream by protecting that which fuels it, domestic production. Domestic production, on any scale, keeps our economy stimulated and allows more job opportunities for our citizens. Whether you're buying a hand-sewn child's gown on Etsy or an American artisan-crafted pair of Red Wing boots, you are supporting the local economies of the factories and artisans, as well as the families of those artisans.
For several years now, the American economy has relied on the purchase of service goods to keep its domestically-produced economy afloat. Service goods such as haircuts by self-employed hairdressers, oil changes from the local fuel station or lawn maintenance by a neighborhood lawn service do stimulate the economy; however they could stimulate the economy at a larger scale of American production of automotive parts, lawn equipment, and beauty supplies rose.
The pioneer of the American Dream concept, Mr. James Truslow Adams said of the dream, "It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position." In these times of economic and social shifts, definitions have to grow and change. While the American Dream that James Truslow Adams has provided the groundwork for future generations, put generation's Dream needs motor cars and industrialism to save it. High wages aren't necessary for these positions; however it’s arguable whether this nation needs more doctors or more skilled laborers on assembly lines to save it. Everyone is familiar with the old proverb, 'Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day; Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for life.' It's time to teach a new generation of Americans that skilled labor jobs are the sustenance of our national economy, and educate them in the specialized skills that will allow them to feed it.
Foundations for small American communities are community colleges. Most people look at these establishments as quick starting blocks for technical careers in healthcare and the automotive industry. However, it is now at a pivotal moment in the American history books to take measures to change that. More programs should be opening to train interested students in arts that have been lost to outsourcing. A revival of apprenticeship programs for seamstresses, leather workers, and smiths should be created to reapply the American workforce with the skilled laborers it requires to rebuild the 5.5 million domestic manufacturing jobs and 25 million supporting jobs lost in the last 10 years.
However, this grassroots movement doesn't begin at factory jobs alone. Those jobs and products require a supplier of raw goods and materials to produce them. Though our government does support the agricultural industry, they don't support the industries of other supply materials that must be manufactured, such as refined metals, plastics, and rubbers. To build healthy and sustainable factories on the U.S. we have to be able to support both our supplier manufacturers and our goods manufacturers. Offering government programs for both of these programs as a stimulus effort for domestic production is an obvious benefit for our economy.
In the end however, it is the consumer who makes the ultimate judgment and casts their vote for a stronger economy built on domestic production. The consumer that goes out of their way to buy American-made goods is the one that is most dedicated to changing the economic climate of this country for the benefit of every American family's American Dream. Henry Ford, the grandfather of American industrialism and manufacturing said it best, “It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages."
Henry Ford understood the American pioneer spirit, he harnessed it, and he asked others to join him in creating an incredible machine fueled by skilled laborers, raw goods suppliers, and most importantly customers to come together to achieve nothing less than greatness. He summed this up by saying, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” It's time for the American nation to work together to transform the American economy into the great global power of days past. Bolstering 20% of the global economic demand and 30% of its consumer spending, there's no reason that a shift toward domestic production and consumption shouldn't show signs of immediate economic stimulus. All it takes is the American nation coming together to decide that they want to reclaim the glory that was the American Dream.